Was Jason Campbell the most talented aquisition in the league this offseaon? No. Will he be a Pro-Bowler in Oakland? Most likely not any time soon. But was there a greater upgrade made at any position this offseason? Definately not.
Filling Jamarcus Russell’s shoes in Oakland will be like sitting in for Bernie Madoff while he polishes of his life sentences. Anyone will do. The same is true in Oakland. Just surviving the Jamarcus Russell era means moving in the right direction.
Last I checked, Jason Campbell can count with his fingers and do coherant interviews. In fact, Campbell actually brings everything to the table that Al Davis drafted Russell for 3 years ago. He has a huge arm and a small ego. If Santana Moss actually kept his route 30 yards downfield, he could have added 300+ yards and 4-5 touchdowns to his season stats. Don’t believe me? Check the tapes. As a member of the live and televistion audience for every Redskins game last season (my wifes a ‘Skins fan), I know this to be fact. Moss put it in cruise control when he didn’t think the ball was coming. When released the ball, he downshifted and couldn’t catch up. If you wonder why Campbell overthrew so many receivers last season, try throwing a 40 yards bomb and trying to guess which gear the receiver wants to go after the ball with.
At this point, Oakland doesn’t have any receivers of the proven caliber of Santana Moss, but there is more than enough capable wide receiver talent on the team.
In 12 games last season, fans watched Jamarcus Russell play in 12 games. The Raiders should not have won any of those games. The fact that they battled with San Diego on the opening Monday Night Football and every game after (minus weeks 4,5,7) was a testament to the other 23 men on the field those days. How could any team win after turning the ball over twice inside the 10 yardline to the New York Jets in the first quarter. Jamarcus Russell stole the $200 per seat I paid to sit in the front row of the Black Hole that day. Who could forget the Redskins game when Bruce Gradkowski left with the score close? What an awful feeling watching Jamarcus jog out to rally the troops. Who will forget Raider lineman stomping on the ground in frustration – never knowing how many steps Jamarcus would drop back. He was never more than a turnover waiting to happen.
Meanwhile, Jason Campbell has a reputation of just the opposite.
Until last season, he never threw more than 11 interceptions in a season. Even last year he averaged less than a pick per game. In 52 games, he has fumbled 24 times. That seems like alot until you compare it to Russell’s 22 fumbles in 31 games. Oakland’s line has been far from reliable, but the Redskins didn’t exactly have the Hogs blocking for Campbell the last 3 years.
Imagine the Raiders chances last season if the quarterback position would have turned the ball over 50% less. Consider the Raider defense being given the opportunity to rest on the sideline for more than 4 plays. The trickle down effect of Jason Campbell will reach every man on the roster.
The Raiders don’t need an All-Pro at quarterback this season. They need competence. At 28, Jason Campbell is seasoned enough to learn yet another offense and young enough to still give the Raiders a career. With the young weapons he’ll have around him, the future should be something to look forward to.
Its safer to not get carried away with the expectations, but in an apparently weak AFC West its okay to dream big. The Bears, Ravens, Dolphins and Jaguars may have spent big bucks in the offseason, but for the price of peanuts, the Raiders grabbed the guy that will make the biggest impact.