Oakland Raiders quarterback, Jason Campbell, has made no bones about it this offseason – he wants to do everything in his power to help the Raiders put a winner on the field in 2011. And I’m not talking about a winner as in the “not losers” sense applied by former front man Tom Cable. Campbell has been a man on a mission this offseason and by all accounts, he is looking to become one of the NFL’s highest paid QB’s in 2012, when his current contract is up.
Campbell has been working hard with his wide receivers since early on this offseason. He recently sold the property he owned in the D.C. area and made Oakland a more permanent station this offseason. He also took strong initiative in the accumulation of contracted players to the Atlanta Georgia site where the Raiders held a makeshift offseason team activities session in late May. Campbell played the role of quarterback, as expected, but also played the role of offensive coordinator and play caller. That is going above and beyond the call of duty – the type of maneuver that will have his offensive mates believing in him down the stretch of the regular season.
His new head coach, Hue Jackson, has instilled full confidence in the eighth year quarterback out of Auburn. And rightfully so because Campbell definitely earned the job through his struggles last year and became a more complete quarterback by the end of the season. His 84.4 overall quarterback rating in 2010 included six games with a rating higher than 105.5 and two additional games where he was rated above 90. Six of those games were in his final nine starts of the season.
At the end of last season, Campbell admitted he had gotten away from tucking and running when the play broke down as he started to get a little bit older, but over the course of the final six games Campbell moved the chains admirably with his legs more than once. "I used to be a runner when I first got in the league but I kind of got away from it,” Campbell said. “Right now it's all or nothing. You just try to go make a play, that's the main thing, make a play and keep us on the field and move the ball.”
Right now, it’s all or nothing for Campbell in his career. This is the time to prove that he has what it takes to be legitimate and help his team get to the next level. This will be the first time in his professional or collegiate career that he will have the same man as last year calling the plays on offense when he takes the field. Whether you want to admit it or not, that turnover has had a negative effect on Campbell’s career thus far. But it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for not only Jason Campbell, but also for the Oakland Raiders.
For Campbell, he has the opportunity to play for possibly the best skill position coach in the league, Hue Jackson. The Raiders will have an opportunity to take yet another first round draft choice from another team and mold him into a special player in his prime. There is no doubt that if the Raiders make a serious playoff run this season it will have a lot to do with Jason Campbell having the best season of his pro career. Previously he has shown tiny flashes of what he could become. Up until last season, his completion percentage had risen every year of his career. Last year it dropped off a bit, but that could be credited to the lack of veteran wide receivers as well as undeveloped chemistry with his new team and poor pass protection.
This season there are no excuses for Campbell to use as a crutch. The receivers have more experience and the offensive line should improve with all of the recent draft choices and a little solid free agency strategy. Everything appears to be in place for this once undefeated collegiate passer to prove that there really is a winner in him and that he can get the job done at a higher level.
At Auburn Campbell had a couple of talented tailbacks in Ronnie Brown and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams to support him in the backfield. In Oakland, Campbell has Darren McFadden and Michael Bush to provide the same type of presence. He also may have a couple of young budding stars for wide receivers in Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford. There is no question that this will be the most talented, and quite possibly the best coached, group of skill players Campbell has played with in the NFL.
In Campbell’s own words, “As quarterback you always want to know that it is your team.” This season Campbell will have the opportunity to prove that it is his team. So far in the second half of last season and in the current offseason despite the labor dispute, Campbell is proving that he is prepared to make his eighth season his best one. Some say that the Raiders need a young quarterback who they can develop under Hue Jackson. That may be true, but they also may find out that they already have a guy who can be the quarterback that they want. After only playing in seven NFL seasons, Campbell still has an opportunity to put a lot more mileage on his wheels.
Consider that Campbell won’t even turn 30 until New Year's Eve. He still has a lot to prove and a lot left in the gas tank to do as such. Wouldn’t it be a sweet birthday present for him to rest the final week of the regular season and prepare for the playoffs?
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