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Gutierrez: Raiders 2010 Review -- quarterbacks

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Gutierrez: Raiders 2010 Review -- quarterbacks

Jan. 26, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

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

RELATED: Raiders depth chart roster stats

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.

Following surgery, Raiders activate former second-round pick off PUP list

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AP

Following surgery, Raiders activate former second-round pick off PUP list

Raiders defensive lineman Jihad Ward injured his foot during the team's offseason program and hasn't seen the field since. Last year's second-round pick had it surgically repaired, and missed training camp rehabiltating. 

He's finally ready to go. He passed a physical on Monday and was removed from the physically unable to perform list. The team had a walk-through on Monday. Ward should be active for Tuesday afternoon's practice, the first back at their Alameda practice facility. 

The Illinois product had 30 tackles in 13 starts last season, playing significant snaps with Mario Edwards Jr. out due to a hip injury. He'll have to compete for a spot in the rotation, even after working with the first unit during the offseason program. Rookie third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes has played well in his absence and could be a three-down player inside. 

Ward was a raw, yet athletic talent capable of playing several techniques across the line. The teams sees great potential, though Ward must continue to develop as a player. 

In addition, the Raiders activated tight end Cooper Helfet off the non-football injury list.

Khalil Mack ready for regular season, but Raiders defense is not

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AP

Khalil Mack ready for regular season, but Raiders defense is not

OAKLAND – The Los Angeles Rams assigned two blockers to Khalil Mack, a common practice against the reigning defensive player of the year. Sometimes it works. This time it didn’t.

The Raiders edge rusher split the double team, found his target and pounced. Jared Goff stood zero chance. There was no evading this one. Mack brought last year’s No. 1 overall pick down with authority, claiming a sack that ultimately won’t count in his 2017 total.

The sacks highlighted a dominant performance that also included three quarterback pressures, four total tackles and two for a loss. All that in three series.

Mack’s clearly ready for the regular season. As a whole, the Raiders defense is not.

Saturday’s 24-21 loss to the Rams at Oakland Coliseum proved that point. A below average offense had no trouble scoring on a starting unit that looks a bit lost.

“I thought our defense was poor, in particular early when we started the game,” head coach Jack Del Rio said in a postgame press conference. “We’re going to have to get a whole lot better there.”

It has to happen quickly, with the regular season bearing down and the Raiders still trying to correct the same old thing. Making proper reads and improved communication has been an emphasis this offseason as coaches work to get this defense playing better together. It’s still preseason and there’s time to teach and coach and fix problems, but the defense isn't quite right.

“I think we’ll go a long way when we clean some of those things up,” Del Rio said. “The things that we’ve talked about for too long in terms of communication errors, eye violations and things like that that just keep you from ever being really good on defense. Those just have to get cleaned up.”

Issues are present in the front seven but more obvious in the back, where explosive pass plays continue to plague the starting unit. The Raiders allowed two plays over 20 yards on the first series and six plays of 10 or more yards in three series on Saturday, when the full starting unit was active. The Rams scored 14 points – Mack’s sack squashed the lone non-scoring drive – in those three series.

Del Rio was bothered by misreads and “eye violations,” in coverage, which make things easier for an opposing offense.

“When you see them, it’s not a good thing,” Del Rio said. “Yeah, I mean it’s really simple. You don’t have your eyes where they belong and you’re playing man? You’re playing man or even in zone. If you’re not seeing what you need to see, it makes it hard.”

Fixing these problems could improve execution and make life harder on opponents. It needs to happen this summer or the Raiders will have to win a lot of shootouts.

“Obviously, I identify what the problem is,” Del Rio said. “Getting it fixed is the challenge.”