Davis steering Cable in the right direction

Those bemoaning Al Davis’ apparent “meddling” by telling Tom Cable to keep Jason Campbell at quarterback forget one thing: This time, Davis is right.

Backtrack a bit to the start of the season. Campbell, acquired in the offseason from the Washington Redskins, was a disaster. The Raiders’ offensive line couldn’t protect him, and the Oakland fans were chanting “Bruce, Bruce,” for Gradkowski, whom they got in the second half of the second game, against the Rams. Gradkowski rallied them for a win and remained the starting quarterback until he was injured in the Houston game.

For a time, Cable insisted that Gradkowski would still be the starter when he returned. But after Davis leaned on him last week, he announced that Campbell will be the starter in Pittsburgh on Sunday against the Steelers.
As he should be.

For openers, the Raiders have won three straight behind Campbell to move into a tie with Kansas City for first place in the AFC West. Equally important, the team has changed to one that can now win the division with Campbell at quarterback.

Campbell and Gradkowski are very different quarterbacks. Though Gradkowski can throw deep, he’s much more like Rich Gannon than Daryle Lamonica. His forte is moving around until he finds an open target. His style was absolutely essential when he’s played in the last two seasons.

But now, the Raiders have made significant improvements in their pass blocking. They’ve been able to seal up the left side of the line, protecting Campbell’s blind side, with Robert Gallery back and rookie Jared Veldheer playing surprisingly well at tackle. That’s given Campbell the time he needs to throw deep.

In the last game, against the Chiefs, Campbell also found an unexpected deep threat in fourth-round pick Jacoby Ford, who caught long passes to set up both the tying and game-winning field goals. Louis Murphy, another deep threat, comes off the injured list. They no longer have to pretend Darius Heyward-Bey is a deep threat. And Zach Miller, the team’s most reliable pass catcher, also returns this Sunday.

The Raiders’ surge hasn’t been all about offense. Their defense, especially against the run, has also been very sturdy.

But the offensive change has been the most compelling story, starting with the improvement in the running game.
Darren McFadden has turned into an all-purpose threat. It had seemed the Raiders might have to settle for using McFadden in a Reggie Bush-type role, getting him out into the open to catch passes or pitching out to him, so he could use his open field running ability. But McFadden has learned how to lower his head and drive for yardage between the tackles.

So, the play-action pass becomes a viable weapon, giving Campbell more time to set up and throw deep, the kind of offense Davis loves, of course. There are other ways to win, and most teams prefer the ball control type of offense that Bill Walsh pioneered. In fact, the Raiders haven’t won big with this kind of offense since Jim Plunkett was the quarterback.

But this year they have the right mix for it, so right now, Campbell is their best choice for quarterback.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.

Glenn DickeyRaiderssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett departs the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
GOP senators confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court in partisan vote

By Jennifer Haberkorn Los Angeles Times The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge… Continue reading

Curator Tim Burgard looks over a section of the galleries comprising “The de Young Open,” a huge, varied collection of work by Bay Area artists. (Photo courtesy Gary Sexton/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Bay Area artists jam-pack vivid ‘de Young Open’

Huge exhibition — with works for sale — showcases diversity, supports community

SF Board of Education vice president Gabriela Lopez and commissioner Alison Collins listen at a news conference condemning recent racist and social media attacks targeted at them and the two student representatives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Online attacks on school board members denounced by city officials

City officials on Monday condemned the targeting of school board members, both… Continue reading

Most Read