Since the Raiders lost to the Cardinals on Sunday and actually since the beating the Raiders took in Tennessee, there have been many articles on bleacher report arguing for and against Bruce and Jason. Most of them are favoring Bruce as of late, for obvious reasons, but I do just want to take a moment to have you look at both sides of the coin.
Bruce Gradkowski, for all of his hype, pep, fire and desire is not the long term answer for the Raiders. I would be willing to let him start the rest of the season but that's about it. Just like all the other QB's in the league, he has a different skill set than the other QB's on the roster. He's mobile. He has a pretty quick release. He makes a decent effort of going through his reads. But the other two things that really contribute to him being a starter right now have nothing to do with skill sets...the fact that he's been in "the system" longer than Campbell and therefore has a better feel for how the offense works does much to help him and also....HE HAS NOTHING TO LOSE! A guy coming in off the bench and then being named as the starter when he knows that (1) the owner doesn't want him to be the starter and (2) he doesn't have the durability or the measure-ables to be a long term NFL starter is basically playing it for what it's worth because he realizes that he is working on borrowed time. Don't get me wrong, a guy playing like he has nothing to lose isn't a bad thing. In this case, is actually a good thing. The problem though is that he will eventually lose what he doesn't fear....his starting job.
Before I go any further, let me be clear. I am not a big fan or a hater of any of the QB's on our roster (not yet at least). I don't care who is under center as long as he wins games. My point, however, is to get many of you Gradkowski lovers and Campbell haters to understand some real issues and think about how BEST to solve them (if you had the power to do so). Campbell is not a bust, or a scrub or an incompetent QB or any of the negative names we have referred to him as. He does have some deficiencies to work on for sure but there is no way that a QB who's stats have improved every year that he's been a starter all of a sudden comes to Oakland and is a bum. In retrospect, even though he had his own issues, JaMarcus really wasn't as bad as we made him out to be either. You'll see why I said that below.
I said the same thing when Jason Campbell came that I said when we drafted JaMarcus..."These are strong arm QB's who need time to throw the ball down field." Since our O-Line can't give them that time, these guys were doomed from the start. As I stated above, one of the major reasons that Bruce is successful is that he is a scrambler and because of that, he avoids potential sacks that Campbell probably would have fallen prey to and keeps the play alive longer. Those are good traits in any QB but how often do you see Tom Brady or Peyton Manning scrambling for their life? Not often! Those quarterbacks have good O-Lines. What's my point? If we weren't going to seriously address the O-Line, we should never have never invested multi-millions on a rookie, big arm, pocket passer and expected immediate results nor should we have picked up a veteran QB who has similar traits (albeit better accuracy and better stats) and expected a playoff berth. We should have just picked up some veteran QB's with quick feet and quick releases to work the dink and dunk pass game until we spruced up the O-Line. What really good pocket passing QB in his right mind wants to be under center for the Raiders? Come one!
I hear Tom Cable and Hue Jackson repeat the same line week in and week out, "We want to win and we want to put the guys on the field that give us the best opportunity to do so." That sounds good but what about putting the TEAM in the best position to succeed? I realize that a wasted $30+ million dollar mistake was a hard pill to swallow but could we not have picked up a some better options for the O-line or even at wide receiver? If not, then at least why aren't we running more 3 receiver sets with Heyward-Bey, Murphy and Higgins at the same time? Higgins has been and still can be a play maker.
If you think that I'm just rambling or presenting problems or bad mouthing our team, look at what we have.
- An O-line that can't pass block well and certainly not long enough to let deep plays develop
- A Head Coach who thinks that the O-line is actually doing a pretty decent job at pass blocking and wonderful run blocking job so you know he isn't getting in their ass like he should. (see the Monday Press Conference)
- A skill position player who can't stay healthy (Chaz Schillens) but is "supposed" to be our best receiver.
- Under used weapons on offense
- A new offensive coordinator who is still being pretty vanilla in comparison to what many of us were hoping for however it is improved over last year.
- Ownership and coaching that fails to put the "team" in the best position to be successful by addressing definite weaknesses.
- Less than desirable in-game coaching and clock management
I didn't make this stuff up and I doubt that I'm over exaggerating but these are some real issues and at least some of them can be corrected quickly. I don't think that we need something as drastic as a coaching change but we need BETTER implementation from our staff. Everything isn't all bad though and the season is definitely not lost by any means. They can still have at least an 8 - 8 season if the team can truly "get over the hump"because contrary to Tom Cable saying that they are over the hump now, their actions and results have not proven it yet.
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