By Mark F. Gray
Somewhere Jay Schroeder and Rich Gannon are smiling as they get set to welcome another member into their select fraternity. When Jason Campbell was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a fourth round draft pick in 2012 there were groans of how he had been banished to the dark side of Alcatraz. Such was the thought process when that previous duo was purged after spending unspectacular time in the District as well.
Don’t feel bad for Campbell though. There are only 32 NFL quarterback jobs in the world and just because he will begin the next chapter of his career in Oakland does not mean he is in purgatory. Instead, he goes from a can’t win situation to one where he can’t lose even if the team stinks. In looking at the track record of those formerly dumped by the franchise, Schroeder and Gannon were part of Raiders teams that either played in or won the AFC Championship Game.
Who wouldn’t want to be in either position these days around here?
The Raiders are not as bad as their record 5-11 record from last year. Despite the distraction of head coach Tom Cable being under investigation for anger management and a couple of underachieving first round draft picks, if there was anyone under center who could manage a game they would have been a legitimate playoff contender in 2009. Campbell’s placid understated demeanor is perfect for a dysfunctional offense that has weapons they haven’t been able take advantage of.
Campbell failed in Burgundy and Gold because the organization failed him. They were malignant in addressing the problems with personnel and there was a revolving door of offensive coordinators. The front office never addressed an inept offensive line that allowed him to be sacked 43 times last year and never appreciated his leadership. He never complained though not always playing with a full hand being dealt to him.
Despite his 52 games as a starter a case can be made that the organization set him up to fail especially once Joe Gibbs II went back to his Sprint Cup Auto Racing team. It was clear that Campbell was never a favorite of noted quarterback evaluator and owner Daniel Snyder who forgot that Jeff George wasn’t coming off the involuntary retirement list. Once Snyder and Vinny “The Broadcaster” Cerrato hired Jim Zorn as head coach Campbell’s fate was sealed.
If there is a lesson for Campbell to learn from his time in D.C. is that popularity doesn’t necessarily equate to leadership. There was not a more revered player in the Burgundy & Gold locker room but that reverence never made it to the field. Field generals galvanize the huddle and help players reach another level. Campbell could never rally his team for a two minute drill or fourth quarter comeback to win games.
If Campbell plays as well as he did for the burgundy and gold next year in Oakland he’s got a better chance at making the playoffs than he did here. In a year that has seen good guys such as Antwaan Jamison and Caron Butler leave and make postseason appearances in the NBA don’t be surprised if Campbell joins them.
After all we’ve seen what was tossed as trash around here turn to other team’s treasure as they make championship runs.