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Campbell more comfortable in Year Two with Raiders

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Posted Sept. 30, 2011 @ 3:52 a.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Jason Campbell's first season in Oakland didn't go exactly as planned, as the quarterback struggled in 2010 for a variety of reasons. Playing under his ninth offensive play-caller since entering college (four coordinators in four years at Auburn, then a new offense in each of his first five years as a pro), Campbell had some difficulties adjusting to the calls of head coach Tom Cable and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. He also had to worry about losing his job, as he was benched midway through the season because Cable preferred backup Bruce Gradkowski.

Cable and Gradkowski have both moved on from Oakland, Jackson was promoted to head coach, and one of Campbell's former play-callers from his time with the Redskins, Al Saunders, was hired as offensive coordinator. All of these moves, according to a team insider, have led to a "rock solid" season from the Raiders' QB in 2011. Campbell has a greater understanding of his responsibilities and is much more comfortable with the plays being called, leading to much improved play from the quarterback and the offense as a whole.

Last season under Cable, the Raiders' offense was called using complex verbiage, which we hear Campbell struggled to pick up after coming to the team in a Draft Day trade. This season under Jackson and Saunders, the team moved to a digit-based system, much of which the quarterback already knew, based on his previous experiences with both coaches. The Oakland offense is also more "Jason Campbell-friendly" according to the insider, who said that the team is throwing more short passes, compared to the vertical attack owner Al Davis usually prefers for his team, because it fits the QB's skill set better.

The coaches are also allowing the quarterback to take greater control of the team, an increased leadership role that has served him well. In Week Three vs. the vaunted Jets defense, Campbell suggested a hurry-up offense to start the game, something the Raiders rarely do. Jackson allowed the quarterback to run the offense, and Campbell completed both of his throws on a five-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that took less than 2:30 off the clock. The quarterback seems to play better when he's moving faster, and now that he no longer has to look over his shoulder to see if a backup is taking his job, Campbell is off to the best start of his career.


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