Jason CAmpbell to the Raiders
There was plenty of blame to go around in Washington last season. Jim Zorn was first up on the chopping block, and once the new regime arrived in town it was just a matter of time until Jason Campbell got the hook as well. The Redskins’ trade for Donovan McNabb highlighted the writing on the wall, and shortly after the NFL draft wrapped up the Raiders acquired the former first-round pick for a 2012 fourth-rounder.
Campbell enters a crowded situation in Oakland, which has a failed first-rounder of its own in JaMarcus Russell as well as former Ravens first-rounder Kyle Boller, Bruce Gradkowski, and Charlie Frye. Campbell was quickly placed at the fore of that group and barring something unusual he should enter the season as Oakland’s starting quarterback.
It’s easy to write off Campbell as he’s sucked into the Black Hole; after all, the Raiders have ranked 29th, 32nd, 31st, and 31st in touchdown passes over the past four seasons and Oakland quarterbacks ranked 30th in fantasy points in 2009. In fact, not since 2005 have the Raiders ranked higher than 24th in passing attempts, passing yards, or touchdown passes. The list of quarterbacks who have started in Oakland over that span includes Andrew Walter, Aaron Brooks, Josh McCown, and Daunte Culpepper, as well as Russell, Gradkowski, and Frye.
But while Campbell may not at first seem to be a significant upgrade over that group, his numbers say differently. Campbell ranked 14th among NFL quarterbacks in fantasy points last season—directly behind Donovan McNabb and ahead of Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, and Matt Ryan, among others. He also brings something to Oakland that Raider receivers might not be overly familiar with: accuracy.
Not since the Super Bowl season of 2002 have Raider quarterbacks completed more than 57 percent of their passes, and in five of the seven they completed 54 percent or less. Campbell, on the other hand, has a career 61 percent completion rate—including 64 percent last year. Certainly, some of those numbers can be attributed to a difference in offensive philosophy—the Raiders throw the ball downfield, the ‘Skins have tended towards the dink-and-dunk the past couple seasons—but Campbell still averaged two yards more per attempt in Washington’s WCO last year than Russell did in the Raiders’ vertical game. In other words, you’re looking at potentially a 10 percent increase in completions—and that’s a conservative estimate.
And it’s not as if Campbell is taking a giant step backwards in quality of receivers. Zach Miller had 59 catches for 759 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games, numbers that hardly pale in comparison to the 77-841-8 Fred Davis and Chris Cooley combined for in Washington. And while Santana Moss is unquestionably the best wide receiver on either team, Louis Murphy (34-521-4) outscored Moss and put up numbers similar to Antwan Randle El (50-530-0) while Chaz Schilens (29-365-2 in eight games) has easily outperformed classmates Devin Thomas (25-325-3) and Malcolm Kelly (25-347-0). A full season from Schilens, further development from Murphy, and the relay team of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Johnnie Lee Higgins, and Jacoby Ford going long give Campbell serviceable receivers—or about what he’s used to throwing to.
No one should be banking on Campbell as the quarterback to carry them to a fantasy title this season. But considering he put up numbers worthy of a fringe starter in larger leagues while dinking and dunking in Washington, he at least has the potential to be a serviceable backup and occasional spot starter helming the ship in Oakland.