Oakland Raiders: Raiders Need Jason Campbell Back for Playoff Run
The Raiders quarterback pair of Palmer and Kyle Boller threw six interceptions in the loss, including two that were returned for touchdowns.
After a week of turmoil following the Palmer trade and tons of media speculation over who would get the opening snap, Boller started for the Raiders. He lasted just into the third quarter and was pulled after his third pick. Carson Palmer didn't even need two full quarters to throw three interceptions of his own.
Luckily for the Raiders, they have a bye week coming up and it'll give Palmer a chance to become better versed in the Oakland offense. But if he struggles again come Week 9, it may doom the Raiders playoff hopes.
Oakland sits at 4-3 with a tough division to win. The AFC Wildcard spot may even tougher, with three teams ahead of Oakland for the last two playoff spots.
Campbell said before he had surgery last week that he hoped to be back in six weeks, which would bring him back around Weeks 12-14 if all goes well. But that may be too late for the Raiders to get into the postseason.
Let's take a look at the five reasons Oakland needs Campbell back if they hope to make the playoffs.
Carson Palmer May Be a Dud
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Certainly it's early to say much, but Palmer looked dreadful in the Raiders blowout.
You can blame it on lack of practice time, or the fact that Palmer hadn't played competitive football all season, but he sure didn't look like a guy who was worth a first round pick, let alone the first-round selection and a conditional second-round selection Oakland paid for him.
Palmer had three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. He completed only eight of his 21 passes for a dismal 38 percent completion. And worst of all, he just looked old—he struggled to move around the pocket and definitely showed that he's lost some of his athleticism.
Understandably, Hue Jackson trusts that Palmer will work out for the Raiders because he has such an extensive history with Palmer. But isn't this why coaches don't make personnel decisions?
Jackson was only thinking of the immediate future and pushed for a trade that sent a lot of value for a 31 year old player who hadn't played since January.
Still, it was just week one. Palmer could certainly turn it around after a week off to learn the system and get back into football shape. But even if the Raiders start winning games again, Oakland still needs Campbell back because...
Kyle Boller Is Not a Suitable Backup
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Boller didn't have Palmer's excuse of limited practice time. He'd had all season to work with the Raiders and looked absolutely horrific on Sunday. On the Raiders first drive, he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, and he added two more before he was finally pulled for Palmer.
Palmer is no spring chicken, at 31 years old, and he may take a while to get back into full football heath. What happens if Palmer goes down with an injury? Can Oakland really recover with Boller at the helm and keep their playoff hopes alive?
Definitely not if Boller is leading the offense. Raiders fans are hopeful for young Terrelle Pryor, but he's an untested rookie who wasn't exactly a fantastic quarterback in college.
Jason Campbell needs to come back, at the very least, for insurance purposes in case Palmer doesn't pan out or is injured.
AFC West Is Getting Tougher
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The Raiders loss and the Kansas City win just make the AFC West even more murky.
San Diego remains the immediate favorite, even with a loss in New York on Sunday. They sit at 4-2 but could run away with the division, especially if Phillip Rivers starts playing like the Phillip Rivers of old.
Kansas City, meanwhile, has now won three straight games and are just a game behind Oakland. They play in San Diego in Week 8, and no matter who wins that contest, it won't benefit the Raiders.
Denver sits at the bottom of the division, but Broncos fans are incredibly hopeful for the future with Tim Tebow at the helm. Denver will be Oakland's first test after their bye with a meeting in Week 9.
AFC Wild-Card Hunt Is Going to Be Brutal
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Under Campbell, the Raiders looked like a near playoff lock. Now, it's not so certain.
That doesn't mean, however, that the Raiders have to just worry about the Steelers and Bengals. The Buffalo Bills have the same record as the Bengals at 4-2 and are ahead of the Raiders for that wild-card spot.
The New York Jets have the same record as the Raiders at 4-3, but have just as difficult schedule going forward.
If Kansas City continues their impressive string of wins, they might have something to say about one of those wild-card spots.
The only lock for an AFC Wild Card is probably the Steelers, who sit at 4-2 on the season and are one game behind division leading Baltimore. The Steelers are just too good to count out of the playoff picture.
Still, with so many good teams competing for just two spots, Oakland can't afford to start losing now.
Oakland Desperately Needs Consistency
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Sunday's loss to Kansas City came amidst a perfect storm for Oakland. Palmer had been a Raider for just a few days, and the hype over the starting position would have been a hindrance no matter who started for Oakland.
The Raiders fans started chanting Palmer's name as soon as Boller threw his first interception, but Hue Jackson was more patient. Unfortunately for him, he should have been even more patient. He yanked Boller quickly into the second half but put out a quarterback (Palmer) who obviously wasn't ready and didn't know the system.
The Raiders have the bye week to recover and to teach Palmer the offense and the Raiders Week 9 opponent is Denver, so it isn't as if Palmer will have to play the NFL's best immediately.
But what if he struggles again? If he continues to prove the critics of the trade correctly? It's hard to feel that optimistic about his future when he gave up three inceptions in less than two quarters of work.
If Palmer can't bring that sense of consistency into Oakland, the Raiders playoff hopes are doomed.
If Campbell can return this season, Oakland needs him as soon as possible, if only as the best insurance against another Palmer meltdown.