I can only imagine the reaction from raider nation today after Carson Palmer’s abbreviated debut yesterday, ‘We gave up two first rounders for this guy! Is Jackson crazy? Do we have any hope left? Al is turning over in his grave!’ I know that’s definitely what the national media is reporting now. Well, yes, you did. And I’m going to tell you how it was worth it.
Wait, what? The guy who hasn’t thrown a pass in over a year, comes in, completes 33% of his passes and throws 3 bad picks, is worth two first rounders and completely blowing up the 2012 draft?!? Absolutely. In fact, for me Sunday’s game proved how vital that trade was.
The Raider’s season has been an up and down affair so far. Darren McFadden is finally living up to his potential, Al Davis passes, the emotional win in Houston, and the emergence of the speedy receivers doted on for so long with nothing to show for it. Finally, the Raiders looked to be back in the playoff picture despite a below average QB. It wasn’t ideal, but the ship wasn’t even close to sinking. Then, last Sunday, disaster struck in the form of a broken collarbone, sending the starting QB to the sideline and sending Kyle Boller into the game and the life of Raider’s fans, thus sending the Raider’s season into chaos.
I’m a Ravens fan and when I saw Boller come in to the game last Sunday, all I could think was, there goes the Raider’s promising season completely down the drain. I saw his “talent” displayed in Baltimore for years. The itchy feet, the inability to step up in the pocket, the big arm that constantly overthrew receivers. The only receiver who would have worked with Boller is DeSean Jackson, at least he couldn’t have overthrown him! He never got any better running an offense, no matter how much they dumbed down the system for him, and he remains the Ravens biggest draft bust in their short history. At the first gamebreak yesterday, the second I saw Boller under center I immediately thought, pick-six. And I wasn’t disappointed (actually, I was pretty proud of my prediction, however obvious it was). A change obviously had to be made to save the season.
I’ve always liked Jason Campbell, I’ve always felt he gave his team a legitimate chance to win, and was disappointed when the redskins traded him for the now older, perennial loser, McNabb. But let’s be completely honest and out in the open here, he isn’t a playoff QB. Jason Campbell wasn’t bringing the Raiders or anyone else to the Super Bowl. Go back and watch the tape from that emotional Houston win, Campbell was abysmal. I was shocked watching that game that the Raiders were able to pull it out. He looked extremely uncomfortable in the pocket, constantly looked to run, and threw off his back foot so many times you would have thought those were his mechanics. (Then again, maybe they are.) Teams have made it to the Super Bowl with below-average QB’s (See Bears: Grossman, Rex), but they always had premier defenses to back them up which Oakland does not. So Campbell wasn’t gonna bring them to the Super Bowl this year OR next. So long term, the Raiders had to change something.
So now, what are the Raider’s to do? They don’t have a defense who can carry the team on their own, and they need a quarterback who won’t just manage the game but win them (which, to be fair, Campbell did do this year). Plus, they know Campbell is not the one to take them to the promised land. So what options do they have? Terrelle Pryor? Troy Smith? Todd Bouman? Trent Edwards? No good options there. So Hue Jackson makes the biggest trade we have seen in the NFL in a long while, bringing in the guy he always wanted in Carson Palmer.
Let’s first look at who they got before we look at the price. Palmer is everything that Boller and Campbell are not. Again, I’m a Raven’s fan, and I watched Palmer torch the AFC North for years. He can stand in the pocket, take a hit, move the ball, he’s tough, knows how to run an offense, and if he hadn’t been saddled with a horrible defense in Cincinnati all those years, might have gone farther in the playoffs then he did. In his first playoff appearance, with probably his best team, Palmer was injured on the first play of the game in a loss to the eventual champion, Steelers. And before you go and say he’s washed up, look at the numbers, they have been the same year in and year out. If you ask me, he was washed up with Cincy, hence the lockout, retirement, and now trade.
So Sunday he stunk, true. But to be fair, he was without McFadden and Janikowski (cutting off the long range FG which has been a big part of the Raider’s offense this year. Wow, I think that shows how “good” they really are!), had a limited knowledge of the playbook, and with not having played football in a year. Plus, let’s face it, the Raider’s receivers are not that good. They can make big plays, but there is no move-the-chains guy like Houshmanzadeh, and no pure number one like Ochocinco. Palmer had a solid TE to work with and that was that. Even so, he made some very pretty throws on Sunday, and one of the picks wasn’t his fault.
So before the media and Raider fans hang Hue Jackson and cast aside the Raider’s season, know this. This trade is not just about this season or next season, it’s about having a legitimate QB for the next 4 seasons. Let’s see what happens in two weeks when the Raiders come off the bye and Palmer has learned the offense more by then. He might not recover in time for this season (though I think he will), but by next year, the Raiders will have their first solid QB since Rich Gannon, primed for a deep playoff push in a weak dvision. And for me, that’s worth the 2012 draft.