Oakland Raiders: Turning Fat Into Muscle With Jason Campbell

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Oakland Raiders: Turning Fat Into Muscle With Jason Campbell
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There's a growing feeling in the Raider Nation that the Oakland Raiders are about to reverse their losses and become playoff competitor once more. Many point to the acquisition of Jason Campbell as a reason for this positive outlook along with a very good draft session.

Any assessment of Campbell's chances of contributing to the Raiders' success has to look at prior FA QB acquisitions, prior QB performance and what Jason Campbell brings to the table. Please keep in mind that the off season is just that, off season. No football has been played. However, there's no moratorium on enthusiasm in the off season. Let's see why we're happy.

 

Prior Free Agent Quarterback Acquisitions

Everyone agrees that the last successful QB for the Oakland Raiders was Rich Gannon, who played until 2004. However, injuries were responsible for a less than stellar performance by Gannon his last two years.

After leading the Raiders to the 2002 Super Bowl (and throwing for over 4,000 yards that season), Gannon started only ten games in the next two years while compiling a 4-6 record. He retired in 2004. His replacement was Kerry Collins.

 

Kerry Collins

Kerry Collins was a nine year veteran when he came to the Oakland Raiders. His history was one of inconsistency. No one doubted that Collins had an arm. Collins had thrown for over 3,000 yards the past four years and over 4,000 yards in 2002. Collins was cut to make room for Eli Manning and was coming off of a 4-9 season. 

While Collins was putting up some great numbers in pass yardage, he was also giving up the ball. He came to the Raiders with a negative TD/INT ratio: 144/149.

In 2002, he established a record for most fumbles (23) that was supplanted by yet another future Raiders QB (Daunte Culpepper). His Raider career was 41 TDs, 32 Int and 20 fumbles in 2 seasons. He did throw for over 3,000 yards for both seasons with the Raiders.

Collins epitomizes the phrase "You live and die by the Quarterback". When Collins has been good, he has compiled good records: 9-3, 12-4, 10-6 and 12-3.

When he has been bad, he has compiled equally lousy records: 2-9, 4-9, 3-10,4-11, 0-6. With the exception of his first two years (7-6 and 9-3), Collins has never ever had back to back winning seasons. 

In all fairness to Collins, the 2004 and 2005 Raiders had the most hideous defense in Raiders history. Collins did put up some decent numbers but there's no way you can have a team giving up almost 6,000 yards on defense and 442 points (as we did in 2004)  and still win games. 2005 defense was only slightly better.

 

Aaron Brooks

Brooks' legacy with the Raiders is demonstrated in our offensive ranking for the 2006 season. We were dead last out of 32 teams. Brooks never won a game for the Raiders and was pulled mid-season for homegrown product Andrew Walter. Brooks was a starter for the New Orleans Saints for five seasons before being supplanted by Drew Brees.

Brooks put up some good numbers for the Saints and had only two seasons out of five that were under .500. Coming to Oakland, it looked like a good thing.

The 2006 season was the worst season the Raiders ever had, suffering through a 2-14 humiliation. Much was made of Brooks 0-8 record.

However, it should be noted that Brooks suffered a shoulder injury in only his second game for the Raiders. Even after coming back, he never won a game again and retired after being released from the Raiders.

I've always considered Brooks an enigma, in terms of evaluation. In fact, I consider the entire 2006 season an enigma when it comes to evaluation. Randy Moss went from 1000 yards to 500. The offense stunk. The defense improve slightly, but it was a horrible experience all around.

It's clear that the coaching was at an all-time low. Those who lambast Cable for his playcalling obviously have forgotten about Art Shell II and Tom Walsh. Brooks clearly stunk in his role as QB but so did everyone else did that year. Walsh actually said that Randy Moss was a player with diminishing skills (prior to the New England trade).

Given the dysfunction of the 2006 coaching staff, players and organization in general, it is literally impossible to evaluate Brooks presence here. The shoulder injury also makes it difficult to evaluate but I will agree, he definitely was a bad QB for the Raiders.

 

Daunte Culpepper/Josh McCown

2007 found the Raiders using the two-headed approach to the quarterback dilemma. Both Daunte Culpepper and Josh McCown were starters in the 2007 season. Neither QB could produce a winning game and it wasn't surprising.

McCown was the starter at the beginning of the season. He did put up OK numbers and points but suffered from a horrible defense. In nine games (2-7 record), McCown scored over 20 points in four games and under ten points in two games.

The problem was the defense, who's lowest point total was 17 and gave up 30 points or more in four games.

Coming to the Raiders, McCown had started only one season in five years for more than six games (13 games in 2004 compiling a 6-7 record). He did not take a snap the previous year (2006).

That McCown actually won two games or managed to score 20 points in four of his starts is nothing short of startling. There was no evidence, either prior to joining the Raiders or since leaving, that this was at all possible. This accomplishment was made under a rookie coach (Kiffin) who prided himself as an offensive coordinator. To say that McCown was a mediocre journeyman would be an understatement.

Daunte Culpepper started the next six games of the 2007 season. Many wondered why Daunte was not named the starter over McCown and we soon had our answer. Culpepper stunk and stunk badly. He had an even TD/Int ratio five and five. He threw for a lot of yards in his six games (1331) but not for many points.

An evaluation of Culpepper prior to his move to Oakland shows that he had been 3-8 since an 8-8 season in 2004. Clearly, injuries and inconsistency now ruled his game. The writing was on the wall with Culpepper before joining the Raiders. He had one good season (11-5 in 2000) and was never above .500 again.

He had the hallmark evidence of declining productivity: limited recent starts (only 11 starts in the past two years before joining the Raiders). Remember, like Collins, this was his ninth season in the league. Culpepper is now 0-10 since leaving the Raiders and will likely retire soon. 

 

The Curious Case of Jason Campbell

Jason Campbell has played the last four years with the Washington Redskins, compiling a 20-32 win that included an 8-8 season in 2008.

In his last two years, where he has started 16 games each year, he has thrown for 3245 and 3618 yards respectively. His TD/Int ration is 55-38 for his career. Campbell has never thrown for more interceptions than TDs in any season. 

Jason Campbell definitely gets in the door by way of background. He's thrown for over 3,000 yards his last two seasons. He doesn't have a negative TD/Int ratio and he has been a starter in his last few years. The only question mark for Campbell is the losing record. A look at the Washington Redskins can quickly answer that question.

Jason Campbell went 2-5 his rookie year and 6-7 his second year. In his first 20 games, he passed for almost 4,000 yards (3,997) and had a TD/INT ratio of 22/17. Not great, but not bad for a newcomer. Averaging 200 yards passing is pretty good for a newcomer. His next year, the team goes 8-8.

Again, his division includes the Giants, Cowboys and Eagles so he doesn't get a free pass. 

The big question mark for Campbell is why did his team revert and go 4-12 last year?

The answer can be found in many areas outside of Campbell. Campbell passed for 3,600 yards last year so QB was not the problem. The first obvious answer is the absence of Clinton Portis who had run for 1400 the previous year and led the team in 2009 with 494 yards in eight games. Definitely not the running game they were used to. This will hurt any offense.

The other thing that stands out is the fact that the defense gave up more points. The difference between points scored/allowed more than doubled from 31 to 70. The defense also failed to get turnover and the team fell to the bottom five in that category. 

It must be remembered that the Raiders were not in a vacuum as a dysfunctional team in the last seven years. We have as a doppleganger, the Washington Redskins.

In four years, Campbell has been introduced to two head coaches and four offensive coordinators. Joe Gibbs was clearly an old school coach who started back in 1981 with the Skins. Campbell benefited under his tenure with Gibbs, but still had two different coordinators under his watch. Jim Zorn was a first time coach who brought in as many offensive coordinators as his predecessor.

The most prevalent argument about Campbell's lack of success can be found in the offensive scheme used by the Redskins: West Coast offense. Campbell was clearly not designed for this offense. Any criticism of his performance must be tempered by a recognition that he played reasonably well for an offense that he was not suited for.  

Now, getting back to that enthusiasm I was talking about. Because of all the offensive systems that Campbell has had to learn in the last four years, there's no doubt he'll benefit from the experience. He will have yet another offensive playbook to learn, but this will be one more suited for his style of play. He gets another coach with experience in QBs (Hue Jackson) but this time, he will not be forced to conform to the West Coast offense. He will be free to develop into the QB he always could be.

In addition, he is coming to the Raiders at an opportune time. Unlike the missed opportunities of the past, there is a consistent move on both sides of the ball. Collins may have brought the 3,000 yard seasons but the defense was content to give up 6,000 yards so we didn't stand a chance.

This time, positive moves are being made on both sides of the ball. With the addition of McClain and Houston as well as opening up the defensive schemes, Campbell looks to be in a good position to win games this year.

Campbell also comes to a team that's hungry to prove itself. The Raiders are a much better team than their recent history would suggest. It's difficult to single out a single individual responsible for the debacle of the team.

Suffice to say, there were some more responsible than others. The correct steps have been taken to address the mistakes of the past. Campbell has already demonstrated that he can survive in a changing organization and still be competitive. That's all any team asks of it's players.

The past seven years have been a mixture of misdirection, false hopes and nagging regrets. But it is clear that there has been a change in the direction of the team.

We should all be grateful for a chance to shine on the field once more. It's time to put aside petty differences about the reasons for the last seven years and concentrate on the success in the future. 

Rise Nation Rise!

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