By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, May 13th, 2011 at 1:31 pm in Oakland Raiders.
It seems much of Raider Nation is pleased Jason Campbell has seized the role of team leader during the lockout.
Campbell said in two interviews he had a playbook and was organizing a workout at an undisclosed date and time along with Richard Seymour. Campbell would run the offense, Seymour the defense.
Jackson, a smooth operator when it comes to player relations, has apparently mended any fences that were in need of repair over Campbell’s benching in favor of Bruce Gradkowski last year in Week 2. It was Jackson who went to coach Tom Cable and requested the change, and considering the influence bestowed on the coordinator by Al Davis, the head coach had little choice but to comply.
It’s a nice bit of sleight of hand in that Cable was viewed as a Bruce Gradkowski guy. That may have been true, but the offense belonged to Jackson and he twice opted to have Gradkowski replace Campbell.
Now Campbell is saying all the right things about Jackson and vice versa, a good sign in that the offensive mind and the quarterback should operate as one. There are no more gray areas. In the brief span on April 29 when the lockout was lifted, go ahead and assume Jackson, in addition to shipping a playbook to Campbell, also made it clear what he expected of his quarterback should there be another shutdown.
Campbell, who has never played in the same system for two straight years, is taking Jackson’s request to be a leader to heart.
When asked about the qualities he looked for in a quarterback before the draft, Jackson thought the two most important attributes were leadership and accuracy _ the ability to complete big passes and keep drives alive.
The offseason without the coaches provides a unique opportunity for Campbell to make strides toward being a leader. As far as being the kind of passer Jackson desires, we won’t know that until training camp and the regular season.
Because here’s the deal with Campbell _ he has yet to demonstrate he can carry the Raiders offense on a day when the running game isn’t going well.
His season passer rating of 84.5 last year was the best since Rich Gannon won MVP at 97.3 in 2002, but achieved largely because of five games in which he had rating ranging from 105.5 to 127.9 during which the Raiders dominated on the ground. Oakland averaged 216.4 yards per game in those five games when Campbell’s efficiency was highest (71 of 111 for 1,114 yards, eight touchdowns, no interceptions for a 121.2 rating).
By contrast, Campbell’s rating was 65.7 (123 of 218 for 1,273 yards, five touchdowns, eight interceptions) outside of those five games when Oakland struggled on the ground and needed to control things through the air.
As much as Jackson is talking up Campbell, the fact remains that at the present time, the quarterback is not under contract past this year. Unless they sign him once the lockout ends as a show of confidence, he’ll likely be playing for that contract this year.
There was considerable buzz the Raiders liked Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King was in the 49ers’ draft room and reported San Francisco was convinced Oakland would have taken Kaepernick had they not traded up to get him.
Whether the 49ers were correct in their assessment, only the Raiders know for sure. If they were thinking quarterback in the second round, it means they weren’t necessarily sold on Campbell past this year.
The bottom line is Campbell can lead all he wants, but any designs he has on becoming Davis’ next Jim Plunkett will rest with him on occasion carrying the offense with the pass.