NFL Preview - Oakland (1-1) at Arizona (1-1)
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - So much for new beginnings.
Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell, treated to myriad coaches and schemes for the duration of a four-year run in Washington, headed to the left coast in the offseason in search of a change.
A stable offense to run. A discarded draft bust to replace.
And a team conjuring up decades-old tradition of vertical passing success.
It seemed the perfect mix.
And it lasted for all of 90 minutes.
The former first-round pick from Auburn saw his reign as the Raiders' No. 1 come to an end at halftime of Week 2, when he was passed by 2009 holdover Bruce Gradkowski - a career journeyman with five wins in 16 NFL starts since his sixth-round selection (194th overall) by Tampa Bay in 2006.
Campbell was chosen 25th overall by the Redskins a year earlier.
The Oakland job was left vacant by JaMarcus Russell, picked first overall in 2007.
"(I) made the switch at halftime at quarterback, basically to just give the team a lift," Oakland coach Tom Cable said. "(I) felt like we needed to change up a little bit and my job is to win games, and do whatever it takes to do that."
Toward that end, the Raiders rallied from a four-point deficit to beat St. Louis, 16-14.
Gradkowski was 11-of-22 for 162 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the final two quarters, after Campbell had gone 8-of-15 for 87 yards and an INT in the opening pair. He'd been 22-of-37 for 180 yards, a touchdown and an interception in a 38-13 Week 1 loss at Tennessee.
And though clearly frustrated, he was diplomatic in the aftermath.
"I was surprised. We were down 7-3," Campbell said. "We had been moving the ball. We just stalled when we got to the red zone. But at the same time, it was a decision that they made. I've got to do what I've got to do and just live with it and just move forward.
"I don't know what decisions have been made. My job is to come to work Monday and just work out and do what I have to do each and every week."
The quarterback circus heads this weekend to Glendale, where another merry-go- round has resulted in another deposed No. 1 pick and another 1-1 start.
The Arizona Cardinals, who were a Santonio Holmes toe dance from a Super Bowl title two seasons ago, completed a precipitous plunge last week when they gave up 31 unanswered points in a 41-7 road debacle against the Atlanta Falcons.
Seemingly long gone are the playoff-worthy days of retired veteran Kurt Warner, whose pre-ordained successor - former USC star Matt Leinart - was released during training camp in favor of erratic Cleveland washout Derek Anderson.
Anderson completed 17-of-31 passes for 161 yards and was picked off twice in the loss to the Falcons, a week after he'd gone 22-of-41 for 297 yards and one score while beating the Rams, 17-13, in another Week 1 road test.
Brigham Young product Max Hall came in for cleanup duty against Atlanta and completed one of two passes, prompting some chatter that he'd be in line for yet another in-season promotion.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, however, put that notion to rest this week.
"Derek has done a number of good things and made some good throws. And he's missed some throws," Whisenhunt said. "That's going to happen. As we go forward in this season, we are going to need to hone in better on what we do well and get better at executing those things. That's what we'll do. Derek is not getting enough help."
The Raiders have a 5-2 edge in their all-time series with the Cardinals, including a 22-9 home win when the teams last met, at the Oakland Coliseum in 2006. That victory, which came after the Silver and Black had started 0-5, was one of just two for the Raiders during their 2-14 season of '06. Oakland also won in its most recent trip to Arizona, a 41-20 triumph in 2002. The Cardinals' 34-31 overtime win in Oakland during the 2001 season ranks as their last win over the Raiders. The Raiders are 2-0 in Arizona all-time, and 3-0 in all road games against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals' Whisenhunt and Raiders' Cable will be meeting each other, as well as their counterpart's respective teams, for the first time as head coaches.
WHEN THE RAIDERS HAVE THE BALL
Regardless of who's handing him the ball, it seems running back Darren McFadden is finally becoming the weapon anticipated when he was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 draft. He posted the second 100-yard game of his career against the Rams, rumbling for 145 yards nearly two years to the day after he'd racked up 164 at Kansas City on Sept. 14, 2008. The Arkansas alum had gotten increased backfield time with the injury limitations on No. 1 back Michael Bush, who returned to full practice this week and could take back some of the carries. And for all his career travails, Gradkowski has performed well as a starter in Oakland, producing six TD passes against only one interception for an 89.7 passer rating. On the outside, receiver Louis Murphy emerged with a career- high equaling six catches against the Rams, while Darrius Heyward-Bey had 80 yards in receptions - his best total as a pro. At tight end, Phoenix native Zach Miller returns to his high school (Desert Vista) and collegiate (Arizona State) home.
Yards haven't been a precious commodity to Cardinals opponents through two weeks as Arizona has permitted an average of 384.5 through two games against St. Louis and Atlanta - including 444 in the loss to the Falcons. Three players - linebacker Clark Haggans, end Calais Campbell and safety Adrian Wilson - have recorded a team-best sack apiece while Wilson's pair of interceptions is already tied for the early-season league lead. He is one of 10 players in NFL history to have 20-plus sacks (21.5) and 20-plus interceptions (25) in a career, and he picked off a pass the last time the teams met. Other superlatives include tackle Darnell Dockett, who has 11 sacks in his last 13 games against AFC foes and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has a pair of interceptions and two forced fumbles in four games against the other conference. Newcomer Joey Porter has had career success against the Raiders, with 6.5 sacks and three interceptions in seven games.
WHEN THE CARDINALS HAVE THE BALL
The names are there for Arizona, even if the production hasn't been. Anderson was a winner in his last start against the Raiders while with the Browns in 2009 and posted a 90.6 passer rating, up significantly from the 66.8 number he's established in two games this season. Behind him is feature back Tim Hightower, who had an 80-yard scoring run last week - the franchise's longest since 1958 - and went for a career-best 115 yards on 11 carries. It was the third triple-digit game of his career, and he's hauled in 69 passes since the start of 2009 - tied for the best among NFC backs. On the outside, standout Larry Fitzgerald is the league's best with 475 catches since 2005. He's scored eight times in his last seven games against the AFC, including the Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh, and has 26 TDs in his last 23 games at home. Fellow wideout Steve Breaston, who's questionable with a knee injury, has 31 catches for 441 yards in his last five September games.
Unlike Arizona, the Raiders have been more statistically stingy on the defensive side, allowing just 277.5 yards per game through two weeks, in spite of the inflated Week 1 score by the Titans. Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley leads the team after recording a sack in each game, while cornerback Stanford Routt picked off his first pass since October 2007 against the Rams. Defensive tackle Lamarr Houston, taken in the second round with April's 44th overall draft pick, posted his initial sack against St. Louis as well. Strong safety Tyvon Branch, linebacker Rolando McClain and Wimbley are the tackles leaders through two weeks, recording 13, 12 and 10, respectively. The Raiders as a unit have combined for five sacks, five deflected passes, two forced fumbles and one interception.
For the Raiders, McFadden is a hot hand after the 145-yard game last week and Bush's continued questionable status. Through the air, both Murphy and Heyward- Bey emerged with the insertion of Gradkowski and could continue the success - if either are owned to begin with. For Arizona, Hightower is a statistical positive, but got most of his yards last week on one carry. Elsewhere, Fitzgerald is a proven league-wide performer still awaiting a breakout week.
After last week's embarrassment, this could be an important one for Whisenhunt given his decision to stay with an iffy quarterback in Anderson. It could be another struggle against a respectable Raiders pass defense, but the Cardinals nonetheless figure to have more talent - and more motivation - as they head home to Glendale. Just enough chaos in Oakland and just enough urgency for the hosts tip the scales.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cardinals 24, Raiders 14
09/26 03:01:03 ET