Raiders' Offense Soars Without JaMarcus

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Darius Heyward-Bey is flying high with a new quarterback.

    If you're an obsessed enough Oakland Raiders fan that you actually sit and read Twitter updates the moment they are posted by Raiders beat reporters observing voluntary team practices on a weekday afternoon in late May, you love what you are reading so far in the post-JaMarcus Russell era.

    "OMG . . . DHB can catch!," tweeted the Oakland Tribune's Jerry McDonald Wednesday afternoon, from the Raiders' off-season organized team activities.

    "Best looking passing sequence in a few years," McDonald remarked on the Twitter, just hours prior.

    It appears to be no accident that these rave reviews coincide with the Raiders' cutting of JaMarcus Russell, their starting quarterback for the past two five-win seasons, and adding ex-Redskin QB Jason Campbell.

    With Campbell's disciplined play calling and improved accuracy, even some of your previously-disappointing Raiders look much sharper.

    "Now I can get adjusted as to where (Campbell) steps up in the pocket," tackle Mario Henderson told the Contra Costa Times, for an article about how much less lost and clueless Henderson now looks with a new quarterback. "I know he's accurate, as far if it's a seven-step drop, I know he'll take seven; if it's five, I know he's going to take five. That's good to be accurate."

    "(Darius) Heyward-Bey was the best receiver on the field Wednesday," said the Trib's Jerry McDonald, using a sentence I am certain he has never typed before in his career. "He caught everything thrown his way and if he even bobbled the ball once, I didn’t see it."

    What gives? You know exactly what gives.

    "Jason Campbell has pocket presence, incredible accuracy and nice touch on his ball," David White writes in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Everything JaMarcus Russell lacked."

    This is not to say that success at voluntary practices in May portends to success in the regular season. It does not.

    But in the Russell era, stinking the place up in the month of May did portend to stinking the place up in the regular season. That dynamic, at least, has changed.

    Could it be that just by adding an average starting quarterback, the Raiders are now a potential playoff team? Or could it be that Jason Campbell is actually a far better-than-average quarterback, who's just been previously stuck with an even more insane and dysfunctional franchise than the Oakland Raiders?

    Could be that neither is true, and these could be the same, dismal five-win Raiders again. But these questions are a lot more encouraging to debate in the off-season than whether your starting quarterback has actually ballooned to 300 pounds.

    Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who even blames his unpaid taxes on JaMarcus Russell.