It is safe to say, that Jason Campbell did not start off on the right foot in 2010. His performances were sporadic to say the least. In Week 1, Campbell looked nervous and unease at the quarterback position. In Week 2, he looked like a quarterback that was trying too hard to prove himself in front of a home crowd. Keep in mind, that he had a rookie left tackle playing out of position at center in Jared Veldheer, and probably one of the worst left tackles in the National Football League in Mario Henderson (yes, I am a Raider fan, and yes that is my opinion of Henderson).
Before I get into the point of this article, let me just say that I have always been a Jason Campbell supporter, even when he was in Washington. I despise the Redskins, however I think the fanbase and franchise both put too much blame on Campbell. So when the Raiders traded for Campbell, I supported the acquisition 100 percent. So to some, this may make me biased to his performance, but it is just my opinion.
The quarterback carousel of 2010 was actually very similar to the quarterback controversy of 2009. A fiery quarterback in Bruce Gradkowski against a quarterback with superior measurables in Jason Campbell. The biggest difference this time, however, unlike JaMarcus Russell, Campbell had professionalism and a quality work ethic.
The question on Bruce Gradkowski was whether or not he could be a starter for 16 games. Was his performance in 2009 really that good, or was Russell really that bad? Personally, I feel we have answered that question. Bruce Gradkowski is a quality backup quarterback, whose heart and fiery personality can uplift a team when things aren't going smoothly (i.e. injury).
The Oakland Raiders offense is better when Jason Campbell is under center. End of discussion.
Campbell has really shown his toughness in my eyes this season. More toughness than he ever showed in a Redskins uniform. He has been battling a stinger all season long, ever since the preseason, when Mario Henderson (there's that guy again) got beat by a 49ers defender. However when Campbell is down, he is not out. Campbell comes out with some quality performances after being hit.
I think another aspect of an elite quarterback is taking over a football game, not just managing it. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars he did just that. He did not just manage that game, that game belonged to Jason Campbell. Yes, Darren McFadden had two big runs to keep us in the game, but those two runs were audibles by Campbell. It is just too bad that the defense and special teams let him down. If he scores on that final drive, I think Campbell would have had all of Raider Nation's votes.
Being elite also means improving as a game goes on. Every quarterback in the National Football League has sloppy games, and sloppy first halves. It is what you do after those sloppy periods that make a team believe in you. Jason Campbell has done that on multiple occasions against divisional opponents. Particularly against the Chiefs and Broncos.
So again, I ask: Is it such a stretch to say Jason Campbell can be elite?
Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub. Those are the Top Five quarterbacks in the league in my opinion. All of them have one thing in common. A No. 1 receiver with an above-average receiving corps.
Manning has Reggie Wayne. Brady had a dynamic receiver in Randy Moss, but his best game, comes with Deion Branch. Rodgers in my opinion does not have a No. 1 receiver, but his receiving corps as a whole is the best in the NFL. Matt Ryan and Roddy White look like the next Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin and they have the stats to prove it. Schaub has an absolute monster in Andre Johnson.
Who does Jason Campbell have?
Louis Murphy isn't having the season we all expected him to have. But with Darren McFadden breaking out, mixed with Murphy's injuries, I don't think we talk about his performance too much. Darrius Heyward Bey has improved, and is probably our most physical receiver as a blocker in the run game, but still is not what we need him to be just yet. My issue with him isn't so much his hands, but his lack of separation from defenders.
Chaz Schilens broke my heart with his most recent injury, I was expecting big things. Jacoby Ford has done more than expected of him in his rookie campaign, but he is more the doom of Johnnie Lee Higgins than he is the doom of our other receivers.
I still have faith in all four of those guys, including DHB and especially Schilens (a bit of a man crush but that's a whole other article).
Campbell is not elite right now, and he may never be, but he is showing flashes of a quarterback that you can build a team around, and in result, get elite performances. I respect every Raider fan's opinion, so please respect mine.
Can Jason Campbell be elite? I say, why not?