Season review: Raiders QBs

Season review: Raiders QBs
January 6, 2012, 9:02 pm
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The rallying cry of an overachieving 8-8 season in 2010, after seven straight years of at least 11 defeats: We're not losers anymore. So said Tom Cable, on his way out the door.The most memorable line of an underachieving 8-8 mark in 2011, after the Raiders' pratfall in the season finale when they would have won the AFC West by defeating San Diego: I'm pissed at my team. So said rookie coachde factor general manager Hue Jackson.The truth of this past season, though, was more realistically somewhere in between.
Speaking solely of the starters, it was the most talented Raiders team since the Super Bowl season of 2002. But the gap between the front-line players and the second- and third-stringers was too great. Just take a look at the toll the injuries took on the team and the challenges they brought to Jackson.One week, Jackson's boss, the iconic Al Davis died, leaving a power void atop Raider Nation. The next week, Jackson not only swung a trade for linebacker Aaron Curry but lost his quarterback when Jason Campbell's collarbone snapped. Then he made the trade for Carson Palmer and summarily lost his best player, Darren McFadden, in the next game while his most consistent specialist, placekicker Sebastian Janikowski, was hobbled with a strained hamstring.Three weeks, three franchise-turning moments.The offense was solid, ranking ninth in the NFL a year after being 10th. The defense was atrocious, ranking 29th, after being 11th, and the team gave up 433 points, third-most in franchise history.With all of that as a backdrop, we begin our season-ending position group analysesstarting with the quarterbacks...QUARTERBACKSIt is often, and correctly, said quarterbacks get too much credit when things are going well, too much blame when it all goes to pot. That was never more evident than for the Raiders this season. Yes, quarterback is the most important position on the field, but with so much drama going on around the Raiders' QBs this season, it's hard to hold them solely responsible for what what wrong -- and what went right -- for them this season. Truly, the mid-season change from Jason Campbell to Carson Palmer, with a dash of Kyle Boller and Terrelle Pryor, changed the identity of the team. For the better, though? Yes. If only injuries had not ravaged the rest of the roster. Grade: CCarson Palmer -- Really, when you consider what Palmer accomplished after being acquired out of semi-retirement and off his couch in October, it's pretty amazing. No offseason program. No familiarity. A seeming resentment from a receiver or two. Not a single snap with running back Darren McFadden. And still, Palmer had the Raiders one game away from winning the division. It took a while for the Raiders to get Palmer up and running -- he did, at times, try to do too much, hence his high number of interceptions -- but if you extrapolate his stats from his nine starts over 16 games, they come out to 4,688 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and, gulp. 23 interceptions on a 62.6 percent completion rate. Imagine what he could accomplish with an entire offseason with which to work, and a more accommodating receiving corps. At 32, he answered questions about his right elbow by making throws very few quarterbacks in the NFL could make.Jason Campbell -- The Washington Post referred to Campbell as the Wile. E. Coyote of the NFLthat every time he gets close to catching the Roadrunner, an anvil drops on his head. Such was the case this season, when Campbell, often solid if not spectacular, was off to the best start of his career, and in a contract year. Then came the anvil in the form of a broken right collarbone on Oct. 16. Two days later, Campbell's career with the Raiders essentially came to an end with the acquisition of Palmer and Campbell again became a sympathetic figure. There have been rumblings that he might want to return and Jackson said he would welcome him back, but that would only be inviting more potential divisiveness. Kyle Boller -- Chosen to be the backup over Trent Edwards following training camp, Boller was thrust into the spotlight when Campbell went down against Cleveland and he was able to hold on for the victory. But some 48 hours later, Boller had a disastrous start against Kansas City, throwing three interceptions before giving way to Palmer in the second half. Jackson trusted Boller enough to be a backup, but not enough to be the starter, which makes it hard to imagine him returning for a third season next year.Terrelle Pryor -- Perhaps Al Davis' final stand, Pryor was selected with a third-round pick in the supplemental draft, and perhaps against the wishes of Hue Jackson. Pryor's NFL career got off to an inglorious start, what with that five-game suspension the NFL said was for skirting-the-draft issues. And when he did get on the field, for one snap, it was for some Jackson trickery, going in motion from the slot and setting up under center while Boller was in the shotgun. Alas, Pryor was called for a false start. So his lone on-field contribution was in, well, contributing to the Raiders' setting single-season team penalty records. He is still a project heading forward and should be the No. 3 QB again next season.

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