In 1980 the Oakland Raiders lost starting quarterback Dan Pastorini in the fifth game of the regular season. Backup QB Jim Plunkett stepped in and led the Raiders to six-straight victories and eventually all the way to a Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Is history about to repeat itself?
There are definitely some parallels when looking at Plunkett and current Raiders backup, now starter Kyle Boller. Both have the big arm Al Davis coveted. Both were drafted in the first round and couldn't, for whatever reason, get it done for the team that drafted them. Also the make-up of the teams they're stepping in to start for were (are) very similar.
In 1980 the Raiders were coming off a 9-7 season which was good enough for third place in the AFC West. In 2011 the Raiders are coming off an 8-8 season which saw them also finish in third place in the AFC West.
In 1980 the Raiders had a rookie QB in Marc Wilson who was considered too raw and not ready to help the team win yet. In 2011 the Raiders have a rookie QB in Terrelle Pryor who is considered too raw and not ready to the team win yet.
In 1980 the Raiders had a legitimately good running game with Mark Van Eeghen and Kenny King. In 2011 the Raiders have an even better running game built around Darren McFadden and Michael Bush.
In both seasons they drafted a Penn State player in the second round who started immediately. Matt Millen stepped in at linebacker just as Stefen Wisniewski has this year at guard.
Both Raider editions featured solid offensive and defensive lines. An edge to 1980's offensive line which featured Gene Upshaw and Art Shell, but an edge to this year's defensive line due to the presence of a resurgent Richard Seymour.
In fact, the only thing that was vastly different for the two teams was Lester Hayes. Hayes had arguably the greatest season ever for a defensive back in NFL history. Hayes actually intercepted 18 passes in the 19 games the Raiders played that year and scored two touchdowns.
Getting back to Plunkett and Boller though, one could say that Boller is already off to a much better start. Plunkett stepped in after Pastorini's injury and tossed a cool FIVE interceptions in helping the Raiders lose 31-17 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Boller at least was able to shake off the rust well enough to not turn the ball over or cost the Raiders the game.
So the question is do you, me or the Raiders decision makers (Hue Jackson? Amy Trask? Mark Davis?) think Kyle Boller can lead them to the Super Bowl? I can't speak for you or them, but speaking for myself, I can say yes and no!
Let me explain, what I actually think is that due to the easy schedule Boller can do well enough to keep the Raiders in contention until, hopefully, maybe Jason Campbell returns. He definitely has way more weapons then he did as a starter with the Ravens. Much like Plunkett did as opposed to what he had in New England and San Fransisco.
So in my opinion, the best move is to roll with Boller and sign someone (Trent Edwards?) to back him up until J.C. is ready. "Next man up!"
Also, if Hue could maybe find another Lester Hayes? Yeah, that might help too!