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Unless you’ve managed to avoid football banter for the last week, you’ve probably heard about the Raider’s Jason Campbell going down with a broken collar bone, prompting head coach Hue Jackson to trade a first round draft pick and a conditional second rounder to the Bengals for their retired-but-still-under-contract-ex-franchise quarterback Carson “Trade me or I Quit” Palmer. Despite Bengals owner Mike Brown’s apparent reluctance to trade the former number 1 draft pick out of USC, Brown conveniently became willing to give up the 3 time pro bowler when the price was right, in what may have been the slow-play/bluff of the decade.
Not surprisingly, the biggest question being shot at the Raiders is “How much of a gamble did the your coach just take on a potentially washed-up QB?” The media’s immediate response has been “a big one”; unless the Raider’s 29th ranked defense in yards allowed improves, they won’t win many games without a well balanced offense. Carson is better suited for the balancing act than any Kyle Boller or Terrelle Pryor out there, but at least these guys have been getting familiar with the playbook for more than a week. But is this really the big all-in for the Raiders? Weren’t they already mostly all-in by the time Al Davis had given up picks 2-4 in next year’s draft?
The men in silver and black haven’t made a playoff appearance since the ’02 Super Bowl loss to Tampa. One aspect of this postseason drought can be explained quite easily: despite winning their two matchups with San Diego last year, the Chargers had won the previous 12 meetings in a row. The Chargers are also off to an uncharacteristically good start (5-2) and the Raiders don’t have an Eskimo’s chance in hell at making the playoffs if they can’t beat their in-state rivals, but this isn’t news to head coach Hue Jackson, who has been pushing since July for the Palmer trade. To sum up the state of things, if the new “California Cannon” can’t lead the Raiders to a victory or two over the Chargers, followed by a playoff run, Jackson’s first major move since the passing of Al Davis’ Raiders will go down as a bust.
So how about his first game in Oakland? After throwing 3 picks and no TDs in the second half of a 28-0 loss to the Chiefs in his first game, optimism among Raiders fans seems to have dropped closer to where it was before the trade, when Campbell first went down. In Palmer’s defense, McFadden left the game early with a foot injury, limiting the play calling and reminding everyone of the sorry state the Raiders appeared to be in during the 0-4 McFadden-less preseason. After the game, Palmer said “I didn’t know I was going to play until 10 minutes before I was in,” and admitted to knowing only “10% of the playbook.” So things can only get better from here, right? With consecutive games coming up against the Broncos and Chargers after the bye, Raider nation certainly hopes so.
As a Bengal’s fan, I have a vested interest in the Raiders making playoffs: my dream is clearly to see the Raiders give up their 1st round pick in the ’13 draft by making the Conference Finals but then losing to the new Cincinnati “Red-Rifle-Green-Machine” Bengals. Unlikely as the scenario seems, Hue Jackson has taught me that if nothing else, you have to believe. Palmer’s stats vs. the Chargers might make believers out of all of us:
Against San Diego, Palmer has thrown for an average of 231 yards, with 9 TDs compared to just 1 interception, a 72% completion percentage to go with a stellar QB rating of 134, but has only managed one victory in three tries against the Chargers. With a healthy Run DMC and a little more help on the defensive end, anything close to these numbers by Palmer will give the Raiders a great chance at making the playoffs. The Bengals may be forever doomed to mediocrity, but if Palmer can live up to expectations, Hue Jackson and the Raiders just might make it deep into the postseason, giving to Al Davis nothing short of the farewell that he deserves.
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Welcome to Not Your Father’s Water Cooler!
You know those mind-numbing water cooler discussions about weather, pets and weekend activities? That soul-crushing small talk would be far less demoralizing if it included something you actually cared about.
Founded by two hoops addicts, NYFWC brings you the kind of water cooler chatter we dreamed of: a dialogue centered on hypothetical trades, basketball debates and of course, humor.
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