Oakland's never-ending search for a franchise quarterback

Oakland's never-ending search for a franchise quarterback
April 2, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Carson Palmer had as many starts as Jeff Hostetler, one fewer than JaMarcus Russell and one more than Jeff George. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Therein lies the real problem, averaging less than 11 starts per starting quarterback per year for a decade is not a good sign.
—Ray Ratto

It is wrong that Carson Palmer has been snatched from the bosom of the Raider empire so soon. We hardly had enough time to figure what things he was not responsible for that we could make his fault.

When there was Marc Wilson, there could be outsized finger pointing. And Jeff George. And JaMarcus Russell. And Kerry Collins. And even for some clinically insane factions of the fan base, Rich Gannon.

With the Raiders, when the winning was taken for granted, the method of winning could be occasionally questioned. The last decade, though, has pretty much meant that if the Raiders had won, they would have cheerfully accepted Carson Palmer. Or Carson Daly.

[NEWS: Raiders ship Palmer to Cardinals]

Palmer, though, managed by merely turning up to be the instrument of his own demise. He came at the behest of Hue Jackson, who gave him outlandish money and the Cincinnati Bengals badly needed draft picks just to say he could build an empire out of a quarterback in administrative jail.

And that blew up, because Jackson couldn’t keep his job as the New Al. And it blew up because new coach Dennis Allen tried a blocking scheme that essentially negated what things the Raiders could do offensively while leaving the miserable defense largely untouched. And it blew up because the new regime had to demolish the joint to try and figure out a way to rebuild it.

In short, Carson Palmer had fewer than 900 throws in a year and a half to prove himself, and in those managed to amass 35 touchdowns and 30 interceptions to go with 43 sacks and about 700 hurries. He was doomed on arrival, which is more than we can said for maybe any other Raider quarterback ever.

Okay, Andrew Walter.

Not that Palmer should have been granted more time just out of the kindness of Reggie McKenzie’s heart. The NFL is Darwin on crank, and McKenzie is not believed to have a lot of time to finish demolishing the old place and starting on construction of the new one. Hell, depending on Mark Davis’ mood, he may still have a crowbar in his hand when his own hammer falls.

But 24 starts is an unfair barometer when it comes to determining how much of the Raiders’ current shame is Palmer’s. The real answer is, as we said, “doomed on arrival,” but the answer that satisfies is still hard to come by because there is no way to figure out what 1½ seasons comes to. Russell had 25 starts. Collins, 28. Jason Campbell, 18. Walter and Josh McCown, 9. Aaron Brooks, Bruce Gradkowski and Rick Mirer, 8. Daunte Culpepper and Donald Hollas, 6. Charlie Frye, 3. Marques Tuiasosopo, Kyle Boller and Terrelle Pryor 1.

And maybe therein lies the real problem, averaging less than 11 starts per starting quarterback per year for a decade is not a good sign of anything except “Bring Us Your Poor, Your Tired Huddled Masses Yearning To Get Their Brains Kicked In,” etc.

And before Gannon’s four years of stability, there were another seven in four years, meaning that since the Raiders have returned to Oakland, 23 starting quarterbacks have averaged barely three quarters of a season of starts. And maybe that’s the Palmer legacy. He was one of a bunch. He had as many starts as Jeff Hostetler, one fewer than Russell and one more than Jeff George. He is fourth in quarterback longevity in the Second Oakland Era.

Which makes him not part of the problem, or part of the solution, but just one of the symptoms. Can't do much blame delegation with that.

Now comes Matt Flynn, the 24th Raider starting quarterback in 19 years. God help him.