The Oakland Raiders have found success this year by riding the coat tails of running back Darren McFadden. As a result of McFadden's immense success, the play of Jason Campbell has been overlooked for the most part. After struggling to find consistency and success in his first year as an Oakland Raider, Campbell has looked much improved this season. Coming into the game against the Patriots, Campbell had played well. He has protected the ball and avoided the pit falls of trying to do too much.
One of the biggest improvements that the Raiders have seen in Campbell this season is his decision making when a play does not go the way it was supposed to. In the past, Campbell would make poor decisions with the ball that often resulted in a sack, a fumble or an interception.
This season, we have seen Campbell show a lot more confidence in his ability to scramble should protection break down and, perhaps more importantly, we have seen Campbell throw balls away and live to play another down, rather than attempt to make a play when there is no play to be made.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Campbell regressed in his play on Sunday against the New England Patriots. Campbell threw two costly interceptions at key points in the game, both times, attempting to make a play rather than playing it safe.
Campbell's first interception came at the end of the first half as the Raiders were trailing 14-10. Oakland had the ball at the New England six yard line. It was second down with under three minutes left in the half. In a scenario like this, the worst that the Raiders should come away with is a 14-13 half time deficit. However, on second down, Campbell found himself with a collapsing pocket and no open receivers. However, rather than try and make it into the end zone himself (he appeared to have several clear running lanes) or throw the ball away and live to play third down, Campbel inexplicably threw the ball right in between the numbers of Patriots safety Patrick Chung. The Pats then drove down the field for a first half ending field goal that put them up 17-10.
Campbell's second interception came in the fourth quarter as the Raiders were driving down the field. With right around ten minutes left in the game, and the Raiders trailing by three scores, Campbell threw an interception to defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. At this point in the game, the interception ensured that there would be no late comeback by the Oakland Raiders. Again, the play was broken at the time Campbell threw the interception. Campbell was moving around a crumbling pocket, and rather than run for a few yards or escape the tackle box and throw it away, Campbell attempted to get the ball to Darren McFadden, who was lost amidst a slew of lineman. Needless to say, it was yet another very ill advised throw by Campbell.
If the Raiders want to make the playoffs this season, Campbell cannot make these kinds of plays at the most crucial times in a game as the Raiders are simply not good enough yet to overcome such mistakes.