Carson Palmer, Al Davis, Aaron Curry and the Direction of the Oakland Raiders

Armando MartinezCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2011

It is the dawn of a new era for the Oakland Raiders - for better or worse.
It is the dawn of a new era for the Oakland Raiders - for better or worse.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

So what did I miss?

Since my last article on Bleacher Report, Raider Nation suffered a great loss with the passing of Al Davis. That Sunday, the Raiders pulled off an emotional come-from-behind victory over the Houston Texans.

The next week, the Raiders traded a seventh-round pick in 2012 and a conditional pick in the 2013 draft for Seattle Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry. Curry was immediately inserted into the starting lineup for the game against the Cleveland Browns, a 24-17 win.

That victory did not come without a cost, however. In the second quarter, quarterback Jason Campbell landed on his throwing shoulder. The diagnosis was a broken collarbone. With surgery, the injury typically takes six-to-eight weeks to recover. Without surgery, Campbell would be out for the season.

Enter Kyle Boller. Boller beat out Trent Edwards for the backup quarterback spot in training camp, probably due to his grasp over Hue Jackson's offense from working with him in Baltimore. Boller finished the contest against Cleveland going 8-of-14 and gaining 100 yards. Those who watched the game saw a quarterback that was inconsistent and rusty.

With Boller at the helm, defenses can stack the box with eight players. Campbell kept opponents honest.

We have no idea how the team will fare under Boller's command long term, and it looks like we will never find out. On Tuesday morning, the Oakland Raiders were able to pry Cincinnati Bengals' hostage Carson Palmer for the team's first round pick in 2012 and a conditional pick in 2013. The conditional pick is a second rounder that can turn into a first round pick if the Raiders reach the AFC Championship game in either of these next two seasons. 

AFC Championship game? Raiders? Are we in the year 2001?

Suddenly, that notion doesn't seem that far-fetched. Sure, that's a lot of talk for a team that has not had a winning season since 2002, let alone a playoff berth. But if you listen to head coach Hue Jackson speak, he will have you drinking silver and black Kool-Aid.

The truth is that the sky is the limit for this team. Suddenly, everything is possible.

In a worst-case scenario, Palmer's elbow can prove to be more problematic than has been let on and the offseason did not fully heal him. In that case, the Raiders may struggle to hit .500. After all, anyone who has watched him the past few seasons knows he has a penchant to throw pick-sixes—quite the shift from the conservative play of Campbell.

But if Palmer's time off has healed him and he is able to regain the form he had when he led the Bengals (the Bengals) to two division titles, this will be an upgrade from Campbell. 

You've heard this phrase many times today: only time will tell.

What is known is that the remaining schedule for the Raiders has very winnable games, in addition to two games against the San Diego Chargers and games against the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

With Kyle Boller, the team would be lucky to be a playoff contender.

With Carson Palmer, who knows. And that's what the team needs right now. Not draft picks, as they have had plenty of those over the past few years. The pieces are in place.

No, it is time for the return of the Oakland Raiders. What better way to honor Al Davis than to just win, baby. 

As I mentioned before, this could completely backfire and Palmer may very well not be the answer. But I will say this, as a fan, I can't wait to see what the rest of this season has in store. The Raiders are relevant.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue,  and whether or not you think the Raiders gave up too much is unimportant. The team has sold out at home the past three home games and have provided ticket discounts to ensure further sellouts. They held a moving memorial service for Al Davis.

What the team needs now is fan support. They have shown a dedication to try and stir things up and improve their team and coaching staff. The final piece of the puzzle is all of us.

This is the most exciting it has been to be a fan of the Raiders since 2002. I know, I for one, can't wait to see what this season and the future has in store.

The first test comes against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. This is the beginning of a new era in Oakland Raiders football.