When Jason Campbell arrived at the Oakland Raiders camp in April following his acquisition during the NFL Draft that eventually led to JaMarcus Russell's release, he was supposed to be the man.
Campbell's poor showing in the first two regular season games, however, brought head coach Tom Cable to the conclusion that Bruce Gradkowski was the right man to lead the Raiders to a victory against the Rams. Yesterday, Cable said, “it's all about winning."
Gradkowski knows how to lead Oakland to victory, and Raiders fans knew Gradkowski was their leader as well—he walked off the field to the chants of "Bruuuce!" that echoed throughout the Coliseum for most of the second half.
Gradkowski proved to be Oakland's spark early this season, leading the Raiders to their first win and creating questions about who the starter will be down the road.
Gradkowski replaced an ineffective Jason Campbell after halftime and led Oakland to three scoring drives and a 16-14 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the home opener on Sunday.
The question is whether to start with Campbell or Gradkowski at quarterback in Week 3. According to Coach Tom Cable, he hadn't made any decisions just yet.
The fact that he made the switch just six quarters into the season after waiting a half-season to bench JaMarcus Russell showed how desperate Cable and the coaching staff were for a spark.
To really excite the team, Gradkowski threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy. Darren McFadden also ran for 145 yards on a career-high 30 carries and Sebastian Janikowski kicked three field goals to give Oakland (1-1) its first win in a home opener since 2004.
Gradkowski never got the chance to win the job this season as Oakland traded for Campbell and made him the starter. Gradkowski tore a pectoral muscle in the offseason and injured his groin early in training camp.
He played well in two exhibition games, but Campbell opened the season as starter, even drawing comparisons to two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Jim Plunkett from owner Al Davis.
Campbell struggled in a 38-13 season-opening loss at Tennessee and was pulled at halftime of this game. He was 8-for-15 for 87 yards and an interception on his final pass, as Oakland then trailed 7-3.
During the Rams game, Gradkowski completed his first three passes. His 26-yard completion to Murphy set up a 41-yard field goal by Janikowski that made it 7-6.
After the Raiders stopped the Rams on a three-and-out the next possession, Gradkowski drove Oakland 83 yards to a score on the floater to Murphy.
The offensive success appeared to give a boost to a defense that struggled to slow down Steven Jackson in the first half.
Not bad for a team that was hurt by the injury bug early in the season. The Raiders were without three key injured players for their home opener against the St. Louis Rams: Defensive tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring), running back Michael Bush (left thumb), and offensive lineman Robert Gallery (hamstring) all were on the inactive list for yesterday's game. Other inactive players for the Raiders included linebacker Travis Goethel, defensive backs Walter McFadden and Hiram Eugene, and receiver Chaz Schilens.
Now the Raiders are back on target, and for the first time since 2005, they gained over 400 yards, proving they could have scored even more points against the Rams.