Through the season’s first six weeks, the Raiders were on the way to their best season since reaching the Super Bowl in 2002. Then quarterback Jason Campbell went down with a broken collarbone, and the Raiders hit the panic button. Instead of being patient, the team sold the future for a quarterback who has been barely above-average in recent years.
Campbell supposedly could be back in six weeks. With the bye, that would mean the team had to face just five games without its starting quarterback. With games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings, going 3-2 in that span was very plausible. Even 2-3 would keep the playoff hopes alive.
I know what you're thinking: "They would have to rely on Kyle Boller, and look how he imploded last week." Boller has a cannon and can make all the throws required of an NFL quarterback.
If the Raiders pound the ball with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush and there is little pressure put on a confident Boller, he could have gotten the job done.
When the team brought in Carson Palmer, Boller’s confidence went out the window, and his throws sailed into the opposing defensive backs’ hands on against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Even if the Raiders imploded with Boller, the worst-case scenario was no playoffs. The team would return in 2012 with a strong, young corps and a new talent via the middle of the first round.
Now the team is left without a first-round pick this year and without a second-rounder next season. All the best teams in the NFL are built through the draft. Even the Raiders had been following the model lately, and it led to their revival.
With Palmer being thrown into the fire, they barely have a better chance of making the playoffs than holding pat with Boller and hoping Campbell will be back. The team has all but said goodbye to the quarterback who was perfect for its system.
Campbell is a game-manager with a cannon to find the Raiders’ speedy receivers deep. Palmer has always been the focal point of the offense and does not have the gun he did when he was an All-Pro.
Campbell had the mobility to make something out of nothing when the Raiders’ line broke down. Palmer is a statue.
In their respective careers, has Palmer been the better quarterback of the two? Absolutely. Will he be better for the Oakland Raiders? I doubt it and certainly not in 2011. And after all, isn’t that what this trade was all about?
The Raiders were a great story this season, and it really was a shame to see Campbell go down. With this trade, Oakland just took a huge step back in a long and ugly rebuilding process.