Jason Campbell was good enough on Monday Night. He was good enough to beat the Broncos. That’s pretty much all that mattered for that contest. Going forward that likely won’t be the case.
It’s no secret that the Raiders are a throwback team in the modern era. As the NFL overwhelmingly becomes a passing league, run-first teams like Oakland are becoming rarer than a 5-inch steak cooked for one minute on each side. But if the legs of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush can carry this team to just winning, baby, then who cares about style points?
From here out each week will present a different challenge. To successfully navigate a 16-game slate in the world of pro football you’ve got to find different ways to win.
Some weeks the mega-leg of Sebastian Janikowski will be the key. In others the defensive secondary will have to up its game in order to notch another W. And eventually Jason Campbell is going to have to will this team to victory via his arm.
It’s hard to fault JC. Truthfully he’s every coach’s dream. You rarely see him forcing the issue. He plays within the confines of the offense, playing it safe by making the right decision even if that means gaining 5 yards instead of risking possession by forcing it deep for a 55-yard gain.
It’s that better-safe-than-sorry approach that has kept him as a starting QB in the league but has also held him back from becoming a franchise signal caller.
With the way he plays you’d think Campbell has an arm only Bruce Gradkowski would appreciate. Fact of the matter is Campbell can spin it with the best of them. Just call him the anti-Cutler. Instead of constantly relying on his arm strength to pull off miraculous plays, JC reserves his cannon for more sensible gambles.
That straight forward approach is ideal for Oakland’s offense. But eventually he’s going to have to cut it loose. Run-first teams are only effective when playing with a lead or when the game is close. At some point the Raiders will find themselves in a hole only Campbell can throw them out of.
In some ways you’ve got to feel for Campbell. Dude does everything right yet still gets much more criticism than praise. But that’s the life on any NFL quarterback not named Brady. Not even that dude with the neck problem in Naptown is above getting a healthy heaping of public scolding.
Of his 13 starts as a Raider Campbell has been a part of 8 victories. That is by far the best showing since Rich Gannon. It’s no coincidence that once the Silver and Black got a competent professional at QB that the tide was going to change. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves it would be a disappointment if this team didn’t make a serious push for the playoffs.
With that being said it’s not enough for Campbell to simply be good enough. If you want to really shoot for the stars and toss that Super Bowl phrase out there then JC is going to have to up his game to a level he has yet to reach as a pro. While Oakland awaits one of the young receivers to emerge as a legit #1 it will be Campbell’s play that can elevate the passing game and all its components to a higher plateau.
We know we can trust Campbell not to lose games. It’s time we start trusting him to go out and win them too.