Perhaps Len Pasquarelli is unaware of just who it is he works for. Today, the ESPN columnist went rogue and actually – Gasp! – declared the Raiders acquisition of Jason Campbell as the steal of the offseason.
To be fair, the network that has taken Raider Hatred to Olympian heights has been very reserved this offseason. In fact, despite Pasquarelli’s praise of the Campbell deal he is still in the Disney minority of those that are picking the Silver and Black to be a surprise team in 2010.
The Raiders have been a chic pick by the pundits at this early juncture to be one of the league’s most improved clubs in 2010. I don’t yet share that view. But if the Raiders are among the NFL surprises this season, Campbell is likely to garner the lion’s share of the credit.
While Pasquarelli makes no attempts to hide his man crush on Campbell, he does point out the fact that the recent history of Raider QB’s more than helps his argument.
Not since 2002, when Rich Gannon connected on 67.6 percent of his attempts, have the Raiders employed a starting quarterback with a completion mark in excess of 60 percent. The last time an Oakland quarterback threw 20 or more touchdown passes was in 2005, when Kerry Collins recorded 25. And the Raiders have gone four straight seasons without as many aggregate passing yards as a team as Campbell rang up individually in ’09.
Yes, Campbell is an upgrade but to be fair Michael Bush could have taken snaps under center and he would have given the Raiders a better chance at winning than those we do not speak of (you know who, the Mardi Gras Codeine King himself).
Considering the ribbing the Raiders have taken for recent moves such as the Randy Moss debacle and the Richard Seymour deal just a year ago, this is a breath of fresh air for the franchise. However, this is all just pillow talk in July. Campbell still has much to prove.
In fact, as it stands now, JC isn’t even the opening day starter. He’s going to have to beat out Bruce Gradkowski for that honor and rest assured that the Big Gradkowski is not going to make this an easy decision for Tom Cable. After all, of all signal callers currently on the roster, Bruce is the proven commodity after breathing life into a stillborn offense in 2009.
It is still far too early for the city of Oakland to organize a parade in honor of Campbell but it certainly is not too soon to start expecting more out of the offense this season. Even if Campbell is not the long term solution, his professional approach and tireless work ethic is precisely what this team needs at the position of quarterback.