Quarterback of the future

Oct 10, 2010; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell (8) throws a pass during the game against the San Diego Chargers at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 35-27. Photo via Newscom

The atmosphere surrounding San Diego will be intense this Sunday as the Chargers and Raiders square off in a battle of divisional rivals. Phillip Rivers is having another great season at the helm of the San Diego offense, while their defense is atop the league and shut down Peyton Manning and the rest of the Indianapolis Colts’ offense just a week ago.

The Raiders have had controversy with their recent moves regarding quarterbacks and are having trouble finding their balance on offense since their bye week. This week some players admitted they came out flat against Miami. Coach Cable expressed his concern, “We kind of traded with them a little bit,” he said. “But that’s not good enough when you have a chance to take over a game and we didn’t. We got taken over.”

This was the second week in a row the Oakland Raiders have been taken over. Now it will be in Jason Campbell’s hands to try and change that.

In the past, I have not had much faith in Campbell. I think he has a tendency to hold the ball too long and is too timid to take a chance with the wide receivers. He has got to learn to trust his instincts and pull the trigger. If he could do those two things he would have a hell of a shot at being the Raiders’ quarterback of the future.

When I watch Jason Campbell play football, I am always left wondering why he doesn’t throw to the wide receivers more. One could make the argument that the receivers are young, inexperienced, and not well coached. But I believe the reason Campbell is not throwing the ball to them is because he doesn’t want the stigma of the costly turnover. I think he doesn’t like the pressure put on him when he makes a bad throw and thus he tends to not take the chance. The result is he holds the ball too long looking for the safest bet.

Unfortunately for him, the usual safest bet on the field, Raiders’ tight ends Zach Miller, hasn’t been his usual self of late. In Campbell’s last start against Pittsburgh, the quarterback hit five out of his first six passes only to have Miller drop four passes and Louis Murphy fumble away a first down just as the Raiders looked to be gaining some momentum. Campbell came off looking like he had a poor performance, but that wasn’t the whole story. Campbell had verfy little help from his teammates. He actually didn’t have that bad of a game, but he can’t throw to himself out there.

Still, what happened to that guy who completed 65 percent of his passes last year? So far in Oakland, Campbell’s completion percentage has dropped significantly. But that can be directly attributed to learning the tendencies of his new teammates.

As I said, I have not had much faith in Jason Campbell in the past. However, I am here to say that is no longer the case. I think Jason Campbell is ready to have a nice five game stretch. I’m not saying that because he’s the guy now either. I’m not guaranteeing wins, I just think Campbell will become more efficient and make Bruce Gradkowski and Kyle Boller expendable in Oakland during the offseason.

Imagine for a second that Miller doesn’t drop those four passes against Pittsburgh. And let’s take away the Louis Murphy fumble. I think if you do that and Jason Campbell doesn’t get pulled from the game, then maybe get the run game going with more sustained drives, and the offense actually scores some points against Pittsburgh. You can’t have your trusty receivers dropping clean catches and turn the ball over and still expect to be productive. 

But instead, Cable pulled Jason Campbell when the pressure started to get overwhelming and potentially, unknowingly, saved their season by saving Campbell’s health for a later date. That said, I think it was foolish to put Gradkowski back in as the starter. But now, without Gradkowski as an option, there is no choice in the matter.

The Raiders are Jason Campbell’s chance to rejuvenate his career and the talent level is one he did not have when he was a Washington Redskin. Now that Campbell has started consistently for…well…almost since the last San Diego game, I am anxious to see what else he has to offer when he knows the offense and is accustomed to the players around him.

The coaches have got to show more faith in him though. I don’t believe his confidence is shaken at this point, but if they start playing games again like pulling him at halftime for Kyle Boller or J.T. O’Sullivan then he might start to resent them. That would not be good. Gradkowski is understandable competition for Campbell, but I don’t think the other two are.

Jason Campbell has the right ingredients and just needs to cut it loose and take shots to his wide receivers. Open up the offense Jason. The benefits of believing in your abilities far outweigh the negative attention garnered when you throw an interception. I want to see more balls thrown like that touchdown pass to Marcel Reece, and Jason Campbell can deliver that.

Now, if he could only get those pesky receivers to catch for him…

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