Going into Thursday night’s Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders game, one can’t help but remember the fact that both teams made moves in the last two seasons which brought in veteran quarterbacks in hopes of challenging for an NFL title. The Raiders trade for Carson Palmer in 2011 has failed miserably while the Broncos signing of Peyton Manning in the off season has been an unquestioned success. Why this has happened can easily be explained in two words, organizational stability.
Last season, the Raiders thought that they had a good enough team to win the AFC West. They began the season with Jason Campbell at quarterback, but he was lost to injury in week six.
Oakland decided to trade two draft picks to the Cincinnati Bengals for the rights to Palmer, who had abruptly retired. Oakland thought that they not only had someone that would lead them to the post season in 2011, but could take them to greater heights in the future.
Palmer did have the Raiders in the race for the division title in December with a 7-4 record. Since then, the team has gone 4-13.
Despite winning the West in 2011 with Tim Tebow at quarterback, the Broncos felt that they needed to make a change. In a surprise to many, they were able to sign Manning after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts. Manning had spent 2011 recovering from neck fusion surgery. He has stayed healthy this season and been everything that the Broncos had hoped for. Denver has clinched the division title with a 9-3 record.
Though Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL one could make a case that if he switched places with Palmer, Manning would struggle with the Raiders. One could, also, make the case that Palmer would be doing much better in Denver than in Oakland.
The Raiders have not had stability in their organization since Jon Gruden was their head coach at the turn of the century. Oakland has not made it to the post season since 2002. The Raiders have gone through numerous head coaches. Palmer is playing under a new General Manager in Raleigh Mckenzie and a first year head coach in Dennis Allen. If there is one thing that the late Al Davis did not do it was leave Oakland in great shape when he passed away last year.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have been building a solid team for some time. They brought in John Fox to be their head coach last season and he guided them to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Denver knew that they had a good enough team to make a serious title run, but could not do it with Tebow. So they traded him to the New York Jets and signed Manning. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Broncos and Raiders are two teams who felt that they needed to find a good quarterback and succeeded in getting one. However, they are going in opposite directions with Denver going up and Oakland down.
The play of Palmer and Manning has something to do with each team’s plight, but the stability of their organizations has done more to determine their fate.