On a meaningless play in a game in which the outcome was already decided, Tom Cable’s contrived quarterback carousel came to a halt. After sustaining yet another injury to his continually damaged shoulder, Bruce Gradkowski underwent an MRI on Monday and is now rumored to be done for the rest of the season…again.
This marks two years a row that Bruce Almighty has seen his season cut short. It also marks the second consecutive year in which Coach Cable has, supposedly, battled with Al Davis over who should be the starting QB.
While last year was a first round knock out given the primary competition was JaMarcus Russell, this year is a much different animal with the arrival of Jason Campbell.
Now, it is hard to defend Campbell and his QB rating of 75.8 but it’s even more of a task to argue a case for Gradkowski and his rating of 66.3.
Last season it made complete and total sense to let The Big Gradkowski take the helm. A seasoned vet that prepared himself every week as if he were the starter was in stark contrast to Russell using team meetings as nap time. Addition by subtraction yielded some impressive wins but overall it was clear that Gradkowski was not the long term solution.
This off-season, Mr. Davis went out and traded for a QB he thought could be his signal caller for the foreseeable future. So much so that Davis gave JC a contract extension before even taking a snap.
Campbell got little to no time to prove his worth as after six quarters of dismal football Cable fell back on his trusted thrower Gradkowski. The change worked as the Raiders managed to defeat the upstart St. Louis Rams.
That was the lone moment of glory for Gradkowski. A moment that Cable held onto more tightly than Andre Johnson did to Cortland Finnegan’s neck.
From there out it was Gradkowski’s job to lose no matter how he played. The one thing that can’t be accounted for is injury. Low and behold, the injury bug hit Bruce early against San Diego and Campbell was called in to clean up the mess.
JC got his shining moment by leading the Silver and Black to their first win over the Chargers in over half a decade. For his troubles he was informed that when healthy Bruce would take his job…again.
His inconsistent performances haven’t made Campbell a fan favorite nor is he favored among the coaching staff. Still, there remains a certain stubborn attachment to Gradkowski despite his play producing only one win this year.
No matter what the consensus on Campbell might be, there is one universal truth that screams as loudly as Jay Cutler in the midst of a hissy fit: Bruce Gradkowski is not the long term solution.
Bruce gets credit for being a true professional who is always ready to play and has gotten the most out of his talents. Yet his limitations are many and his health concerns are growing. Just check Sunday’s game tape and you’ll see that his arm strength and accuracy dip when he’s asked to make plays in the pocket. Now, get him outside the tackle box and allow him to improvise and you’ll see magic. While that is good for the short term it can’t work for the long haul. Not with the Raiders still seeking to play vertical and not with Al Davis watching from his view on high.
For Cable, he can be proud of his ability to gets wins amid chaos. But now is the time to turn the page and officially end the Gradkowski era. If he were the clear cut choice, the numbers would reflect it and Mr. Davis would have never been tempted to trade for Campbell. Keep in mind, Mr. Davis was no fan of Rich Gannon either but the results were undeniable.
For better or worse, this is Campbell’s team now and no matter how he plays nothing can be gained in the future by keeping Gradkowski in this senseless rotation.