Jan. 26, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul Gutierrez
Theres no question quarterback is the most important position on the football field. And with JaMarcus Russell reduced to a bad memory, the Raiders upgraded under center with the draft weekend acquisition of solid-if-not-spectacular Jason Campbell, the return of folk hero Bruce Gradkowski and the dismissal of Russell.
Still, then-coach Tom Cables magnificently bad mismanagement of the position -- we understood his man-crush on Gradkowski; we didnt understand him acting on it so frequently -- defined the season and set in motion the Raiders QB Carousel. Cable turned Campbell into a sympathetic figure, Gradkowski into a teachers pet, designations neither man wantedor deserved.
As a team, the Raiders passed for 3,471 yards and completed 56.8 percent of their passes with 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. It was only the 21st-ranked passing offense in the NFL in 2010 so new coach Hue Jackson, who will maintain play-calling duties, has something to work with besides continuity. Besides, owner Al Davis is watching.
A look back, then, at Oaklands signal-callers as we continue our Raiders player-by-player review
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Jason Campbell -- It took all of six quarters for Campbell to wear out his welcome and for Cable to flip the switch on the QB Carousel. Pulled at halftime of the home opener against St. Louis, Campbell was shellshocked. He did not reclaim the starting gig for good until Gradkowskis season came to an end with a trip to I.R. on Dec. 2 and Campbell did not look back, winning three of the final five games with passer ratings of 105.5, 127.6, 69.1, 90.5 and 91.2. For the season, Campbells numbers fell from his steady ascent of the previous three years in Washington, but thats what happens when you get benched three times and start 12 of the 13 games in which you appear. Campbell had a season passer rating of 84.5 (a tick below his career-best 86.4 in 2009) after completing 194 of 329 passes (his lowest completion percentage since 2006) for 2,387 yards (ditto) with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Seemingly constantly nicked up with stingers, he was also sacked 33 times. And just in case you harbored any questions on if Campbell is the unquestioned starter heading into next season, Davis erased any doubts at his epic media conference on Jan. 18. Davis reiterated his comparison of Campbell to two-time Super Bowl champion and Raiders icon Jim Plunkett while saying Campbell was better coming out of Auburn in 2005 than current Heisman winner Cam Newton is this year. (I) saw in Jason Campbell someone down the road who can really throw the football, can run, and there are some things we have to do with him, Davis said, but I think the guy (Jackson) whos going to be handling him in the future knows what to do and how to do it. Plus, Campbell is the only Raiders QB still under contract for 2011. With Jackson calling plays, at least hell be able to play in the same offensive system in consecutive seasons. A rare luxury for him dating to his college days. In my opinion, Jackson said, over the last seven, six weeks of the season(Campbell) played flawless. He played almost as good as you can play as a quarterback in our league.
Bruce Gradkowski -- The QB formerly known as Bruce Almighty deserved better than this. Gradkowskis legacy as a folk hero in the streets of Raider Nation after his wondrous comeback victory at Pittsburgh the year before gave Gradkowski much capital. But Cable flushed it all away with his mismanagement and Gradkowski did not do much on the field to keep the throaty chants of BRUUUUUUUUUUCE from turning into BOOOOOOOOOOOOS. Sure, Gradkowski came off the bench to lead the comeback victory over the Rams. But he lost consecutive games against Arizona and Houston and, later, at home to Miami. Gradkowski appeared in six games, starting four, and had a season rating of just 66.3 (a massive drop from last years 80.6) after throwing for 1,059 yards on 83 of 157 passing (52.9, lowest in seasons with at least four games played) with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. No doubt the fiery Gradkowski showed he is best coming off the bench as a sparkplug, a fact not lost on Davis. I also realized that as good as Gradkowski is for a single game, we cant hold up the injury factor from happening, Davis said. He incurs injuries, and that worries the hell out of me. Gradkowskis 2009 season ended prematurely when he sprained both knees in the seasons 13th game. He tore his left pectoral muscle in an offseason weightlifting mishap before enduring a groin injury in training camp. He went down with a right shoulder separation in the seasons fifth game and re-aggravated it in his next start, seven weeks later. And despite his insistence he could again return for a playoff push, he was summarily shut down, literally and figuratively.
Kyle Boller -- the former Cal star and NFL starting quarterback in Baltimore was the quintessential No. 3 QB solid, dependable, ace studier in the QB Room until injuries forced him into action. Boller appeared in five games, all in relief, and mostly handed the ball off until the starter was ready to come back in. He had a passer rating of 30.2 in completing two of his four passes for 25 yards with an interception and a sack. At one point early in the season, it appeared as though the Raiders were setting up Boller to start against Koming. Instead, he played at Denver, at San Diego, at Jacksonville, home against Denver and in the season finale at Kansas City.
J.T. OSullivan -- Signed as a free agent on Dec. 2 in the wake of Gradkowskis trip to I.R., the Pride of UC Davis never appeared in a game. And that was probably a good thing, considering the lack of preparation time at his disposal.
Charlie Frye -- A former starter for the Raiders who started the final three games of the 2009 season, Frye spent the 2010 season on I.R. after undergoing surgery on his koming in training camp. His leadership qualities and acumen portend a future in coaching.