Wanted: consistent quarterback play

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 21: Jason Campbell  of the Oakland Raiders has the ball stripped from his hand by James Harrison  of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Oakland Raiders offense hit the brick wall of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense and could not get out of their own way as they were held to 182 total yards and three points.

The prime mover of the Raiders offense this season has been their running game, and more specifically Darren McFadden. McFadden only had 14 yards on 10 carries and team total of 61 yards on the ground, which was well below their average.

With the running game choked off, it was up to Jason Campbell to win the game for the Oakland Raiders. It didn’t happen. Campbell was 7-19 for 70 yards and four sacks with two fumbles no touchdowns and an interception before he was benched for Bruce Gradkowski late in the third quarter. Gradkowski used his mobility to get away from the pass rush and was able to move the team, but he couldn’t put any points on the board. He had the Raiders knocking on the door in the third quarter and looking to make a game of it, but he had a miscomunication with Jacoby Ford that resulted in an interception by Troy Polemalu.

The Raiders need more consistent play out of their quarterback position if they want to return to winning games. The Steelers run defense is on a historically good pace, but other teams will stack the box against the run and force the Raiders to win trough the air. The Raiders don’t have the horsepower to mount a sustained passing attack.

When he is getting good protection, Jason Campbell can make the throws, but once he is under pressure he gets rattled. When Campbell gets rattled, he becomes mistake prone and starts to crumble. This is where Gradkowski is the superior quarterback. Gradkowski is much better at scrambling and making things happen when under pressure. Gradkowski showed that on his very first play from scrimmage where he eluded a pass rusher and connected with Johnnie Lee Higgins for a fiveyard completion.

Tom Cable has already given the nod to Jason Campbell as the starter on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. He said, “There is no issue there. As we could all see, it didn’t make a lot of difference.”

There was a difference between the two. Gradkowski brought urgency to the offense that Campbell didn’t. Gradkowski also brought an additional elusiveness and an ability to make things happen that Campbell didn’t have.

This is Campbell’s second straight poor performance. In the second half of the win over the Chiefs, Jacoby Ford was able to make plays and cover for Campbell’s mistakes. In the loss to the Steelers, the mistakes were incompletions and one became an interception. Campbell had a second interception called back after a roughing the passer call on James Harrison. That would be Campbell’s last drive.

The Raiders need to get better play out of their quarterback position. If a team can’t generate any type of passing game, they are not going to win a lot of games.

About Patrick A. Patterson, Senior Writer

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