Can the Oakland Raiders Defeat the Steelers with a Red Zone Problem QB?

RaiderusMaxAnalyst IINovember 13, 2010

Holding onto the ball too long may  be why QB Jason Campbells losses his job to a rapid fire Bruce Gradkowski
Holding onto the ball too long may be why QB Jason Campbells losses his job to a rapid fire Bruce GradkowskiJed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Is Jason Campbell really the quarterback for the Oakland Raiders? Has Jason Campbell played as well as the media claims he has? Or is Jason Campbell riding on the talented Raider players around him?  Jason Campbell has definitely improved in the Oakland Raiders scheme of things, but for many he still needs improvement.

It's great that the Oakland Raiders are 3-0 against the AFC West. It's wonderful that the Oakland Raiders defeated the Denver Broncos 59-10. It's still amazing that despite the bad officiating, the Raiders were able to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime.

But has this been because of Jason Campbell's throwing ability, leadership, or the catching skills of a talented and hungry WR named Jacoby Ford? Can Jason Campbell get the Oakland Raiders into the playoffs?

Is Jason Campbell the right quarterback to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers after the bye week, when a healthy Bruce Gradkowski is ready to pick apart the Steelers?

Looking at Jason Campbell's present stats, he has 7 TD passes, 5 interceptions, 91 completions against 171 attempts, 1,252 yards and an 81 QB rating.

Although the passing yards look decent, it must be realized that Jason Campbell is less than 50 percent in the red zone.

Jason Campbell's accuracy is another factor. In fact, you may have noticed that Jacoby Ford actually took the interception away from CB Brandon Flowers when the Raiders were driving to get into OT. Prior to that there was the under-thrown ball that Ford came back to save the play. Had that interception not been saved by Ford, there a good chance Bruce Gradkowski would retain his job as starting QB against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Let's look at the Seattle Seahawks game, where the Raiders won 33-3. Was Jason Campbell the reason for the win? Focusing on the kicking of Sebastian Janikowski, you may notice Janikowski scored 13 points on field goals. Why are we making three-point field goals instead of TDs?

While RB Michael Bush ran in for a score, Jason Campbell completed two touchdowns to receivers Bey and Reece. How many times did the Raiders get in the red zone?

As a head coach, it seems to me that out of seven red zone opportunities to score, Campbell was only able to complete twice. This is not acceptable. Yes, the defense did stand up and hold the Seahawks to three points but that was defense. Of course, Seattle missed a few field goals, but in reality the defense of the Oakland Raiders actually won this game.

Next, lets' look at the recent Kansas Chiefs game. Simply put, in the first quarter Jason Campbell looked the same as he did when he handed the San Francisco 49ers their first win of the season. Thanks Jason.

In fact, it wasn't until the third quarter when Jacoby Ford ran 94 yards on a kick return that the Oakland Raiders got on the board. Then Jason Campbell was able to throw one TD to Khalif Barnes for another six points.

The Oakland Raiders were trailing 20-17 in the fourth quarter. Up until this point, it looked bad for the Oakland Raiders. Even worse was that Jason Campbell threw to CB Brandon Flowers, only to have it ripped away (saved) by WR Jacoby Ford. It was this play that saved Jason Campbells starting job and made it possible for Janikowski to make the tying field goal.

Of course, we all remember the 47-yard catch made in OT by Jacoby Ford to save the game. His catch allowed Janikowski to make the winning field goal kick.

It should be noted that Sebastian Janikowski missed a field goal attempt because Jason Campbell could not score on the red zone.

So I ask again, Is Jason Campbell riding on the talent of the players around him. Is Jason Campbell the new Jay Schoeder, riding on the talents of the running backs (i.e. Bo Jackson) and the defensive line?

I know many will say no, but in all reality, Bruce Gradkowski would have made the same pass to Ford. The difference is that Bruce Gradkowski would have doubled the throws in the first half and many would have been completed.

Jason Campbell will be starting against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a little more than a week. Luckily the defensive line of the Steelers is a bit banged up. But notice the time it takes for Jason Campbell to release the ball versus the time it takes Gradkowski. If the Pittsburgh line shows up, then Jason Campbell will get a lot of sacks.

Tom Cable and Al Davis really need to look at Jason Campbell's red zone stats. This has always been an issue for the Raiders, hence Sebastian Janikowski as the team's top scorer. Does the Raider Nation find it acceptable to have a QB that scores less than 50 percent in the red zone? If so, then Campbell is the man.

Bruce Gradkowski was able to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers last season because he has a much faster release and he gets into the red zone much faster. He also scores TDs.

Coach Tom Cable and even myself agree that up to this point you stay with the QB that is winning games. Jason Campbell is winning games and the Raider Nation is soaring in the clouds now.

However, it makes more sense to have a QB that can score in the red zone and get the team in to comfortable leads instead of having games as we saw Oakland when the Chiefs were defeated. Way to close for this fan. Plus, its huge to see the teams spirits elevated when Bruce Gradkowski is on the field.

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