Position outlook: Quarterbacks

This is one story in a series of position outlooks for the Oakland Raiders. Today, a look at quarterbacks:

Looking back: The 2004 season was supposed to be one where any snap Kerry Collins took was a bonus – instead he took most of them. Collins was supposed to be the backup to Rich Gannon after the Oakland Raiders signed him as a free agent when he and the New York Giants parted ways.

Gannon and Collins each performed solidly in the preseason. Gannon, who was looking to rebound after struggling in 2003, saw his season end due to injury for the second time in as many seasons after cracking a vertebra when taking a hit from Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks. Before that injury, Gannon did not resemble the 2002 NFL MVP but he also did not look like the one who struggled in 2003 before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury.

Collins' season, meanwhile, was checkered but he looked more comfortable as the season progressed, throwing for 3,495 yards. Collins threw 21 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. In his first three starts, Collins threw three touchdowns and seven interceptions. He then rebounded with 19 touchdowns and just nine interceptions over the course of his next nine starts. Collins struggled in the season finale, a 13-6 loss to Jacksonville, but Collins looked like a good fit for head coach Norv Turner's offense.

Four years, meanwhile, have come and gone since the Raiders drafted Marques Tuiasosopo. Four years later, we still don't know any more about his ability as an NFL quarterback. Tuiasosopo has played two entire halves and mop-up duty in his four seasons.

Looking ahead: Although never entirely appreciated by Raider fans, it would be foolish to overlook that a lot of the Raiders success from 1999-2002 is because of Gannon. Last season, most people had Gannon all but ushered out the door before the Raiders brought him back. This season, however, it would be a big surprise if Gannon returned because can Oakland realistically expect the 39-year old stay healthy after injuries have ended consecutive seasons?

Many Oakland fans have been clamoring for Tuiasosopo but that is highly unlikely to happen with the presence of Collins. The strong-armed Collins can be erratic but looked like a natural fit for head coach Norv Turner's offense. The Collins experiment can work but Oakland needs to resign wide receiver Jerry Porter and get a stud running back to make Collins' job easier.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com

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