The Oakland Raiders have been struggling since their Super Bowl loss in 2003. They have compiled a record of 53-123 since then, going 4-12 in five of the past eleven seasons.
Their biggest problem is a lack of leadership and skill at the quarterback position since their franchise quarterback, Rich Gannon, retired in 2004. Gannon was a back-to-back Pro Bowl MVP and NFL MVP in 2002 when the Raiders went to the Super Bowl.
Since Gannon’s retirement, the Raiders have been searching for the next great franchise quarterback. Most Raiders fans blame former owner Al Davis, Sr. for picking up so many older, more seasoned quarterbacks to attempt to restore the Silver and Black’s playoff status. Davis acquired QB’s like Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks and Daunte Culpepper, all of whom had passed their prime- or had been released by previous teams- by the time they joined the Raiders.
The only chance Davis ever took on a QB prospect was former LSU quarterback Jamarcus Russell, and that turned out to be a mistake. Russell lacked the work ethic and intelligence it takes to be a successful professional starting quarterback, which is why he only lasted for two seasons. In both seasons that Russell started, the Raiders went 5-11 and didn’t make the playoffs.
After Russell was released, Davis went back to his old ways and picked up Jason Campbell after he lost his starting spot for the Washington Redskins to Donovan McNabb. After sitting out early in the season, Campbell actually proved himself to be effective. He was benched for a three-week period, and the Raiders lost all three games. Campbell then came off the bench and ended up leading the Raiders to an 8-8 record, though still short of the playoffs.
In 2011, Carson Palmer was acquired from the Cincinnati Bengals. Palmer and Campbell both worked to duplicate another 8-8 record, yet they still missed the playoffs.
Most recently in 2012, Terrelle Pryor was drafted from Ohio State. He was supposed to be the next franchise QB for Oakland, but that has not been the case. Pryor has battled right knee issues throughout his career with Oakland, making it hard for the Raiders to get back to at least a .500 season.
During this offseason, the Raiders made moves to acquire QB Matt Schuab and to trade Pryor for a seventh-round draft pick. I think Schaub is the answer to the Raiders’ leadership problems. However, some might argue that this is another typical Raiders pickup: acquiring a veteran QB while getting rid of a young prospect.
I would disagree. Unlike Pryor, Schaub has something to prove. He is a very intelligent, strong-armed quarterback who is hungry for playoff victories, especially after having the worst season of his career last year with the Houston Texans. Regardless of last year’s stats, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns, Schaub has the leadership the Raiders need to add discipline and structure to their offense.
Plus, now without Pryor, the Raiders have a seventh-round draft pick where they can pick up a much-needed defensive player.