The Oakland Raiders and the QB Carousel

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Published: March 11, 2013

Terrelle PryorIt seems like two things always held true for recent Raiders teams. First, Darren McFadden will get hurt, always in new and exciting ways. It was just a matter of what the injury was and for how long he would be out. Second, the Quarterback position has always been a question mark, either as a result of horrific play, (cough) Jamarcus Russell (cough), or injury. Not since the Rich Gannon era has a Raiders QB started 2 full seasons. In the past ten years, 17 quarterbacks have started under center. That’s not a typo, I do mean 17. While some of this can be attributed to another carousel in Oakland, the coaching carousel, you simply can’t ignore the recent history of Quarterback play.

In the 2007 draft, the Raiders took Jamarcus Russell with the first overall pick. This at the time seemed like a really good decision, but we all know better now. After a combined 7-18 record over three seasons as a starter, which actually looks better than his stats would suggest, it was time to move on. In 2010, the Raiders traded a 4th round pick to the Redskins for Jason Campbell. Campbell helped lead the Raiders to an 8-8 record that year. Even though Campbell wasn’t extremely impressive in the numbers area, he was winning games and that’s what counts. Campbell also started the 2011 season leading Oakland to a 4-2 start before injuring his collar bone. The injury forced the Raiders and coach Hue Jackson to make a desperation move, trading a 1st and conditional 2nd round pick to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer. As the Raiders starting QB, Palmer has a record of 8-16, which looks oddly familiar to another QB listed earlier. As the team looks toward another season in the increasingly difficult AFC West, they again are forced to sit down and look at their options at QB.

Quarterbacks Currently on the Raiders Roster:

Carson Palmer – There is a rumor floating around that the Arizona Cardinals are just waiting for Oakland to drop Palmer. Palmer has not been able to keep the stats in the QB 1 territory for the Raiders. He is also owed 13 million dollars in base pay for 2013, which is a large sum of money when you consider that Peyton Manning will be the only QB to make more in base pay next year at 20 million. That means that 28 other starting QB’s have less base pay than a quarterback who ranked 17th in fantasy production in 2012. At this point, Palmer is looking to be a mistake, someone who was picked up at the wrong point in his career for the wrong reasons.

Terrelle Pryor – In four NFL games, one as the starter, Pryor has totaled 3 TD’s (one rushing) and one interception. When I say four games I really only mean one. In three other games, he wasn’t the starter and threw only a total of two passes. So let us look at the one game as a starter a little bit closer. Pryor went 13 for 28 for 151 yards, 2 TD’s and an INT. Not that impressive right? Well, let’s take a look at what he did on the ground. He had 9 rushing attempts for 49 yards and a touchdown. That’s 5.4 yards per carry. In this new era where rushing QB’s are becoming a hot commodity, it may be time to give Pryor his chance.

Matt Leinart – Here is a list of available quarterbacks that are worse than Matt Leinart: Vince Young, Derek Anderson, the Mccown’s and Tyler Thigpen. Now some available quarterbacks who are better: David Garrard, Matt Moore, Jason Campbell and Byron Leftwich. Matt is not an option for the Raiders, even if he is on the roster come September.

Outside Quarterback Options for the Raiders:

Matt Flynn – The Raiders could attempt to pick up a QB from another team. There are a lot of guys out there that could make a difference, but my favorite is Matt Flynn. A lot of people forget about Flynn because he has been playing second fiddle to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and Russell Wilson in Seattle. Somehow people forget about the game he started for the Packers back in the 2011 season. In January, Flynn got the nod because the Packers had already clinched the #1 seed. Flynn went on to light up the Lions in what turned out to be a close 45-41 victory. Flynn threw for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns, setting all time Green Bay records in the process. It was one game, but if you saw that game, you were impressed, period.

Geno Smith – The rookie out of West Virginia has a natural passing ability and is athletic enough to deserve a shot at the pros. He is noted as being extremely competitive and has a quick release that can cover any part of the field. The big problem for Smith is his footwork. He needs to be placed in his movement before he has a chance to showcase that quick release.

Jamarcus RussellMcDonaldsJust kidding. But seriously, don’t call it a comeback; he’s been eating at McDonald’s for years.
The bottom line is this, if the Raiders are hoping to make the playoffs anytime soon, they need to focus on reinforcing the most important position on the field and the one that has been lacking for years. If it were my decision, I would cut ties with Palmer, give Pryor a chance, free up a little cash and invest in a QB like Matt Flynn. If they do decide to take another gamble in the draft, I say wait until the third round. Why not Geno Smith? It is glaringly obvious that the Raiders have more important needs, i.e. the pass rush, which will require the number three overall pick. Since the silver and black gave away their second round pick to Cincinnati, they have to wait till round three. With that third round pick, they could try to take a guy like Zac Dysert out of Miami (Ohio), who could develop in a nicely and challenge for the starting spot in a couple years. Either way the Oakland Raiders go, it is time to fix this colossal issue and try to get the quarterback position solidified for not just 2 seasons, but for many seasons to come.

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