Now we can cut to the chase on who'll make or break the Raiders next season: Their quarterback.

Changing coaches every season or two provides mesmerizing theater from Raiders owner Al Davis. But the root of on-field evils are instability and inefficiency at quarterback.

The Raiders have deployed twice as many starting quarterbacks as head coaches since they returned to Oakland in 1995 (18 quarterbacks, nine coaches).

Jason Campbell didn't prove in his first Raiders season that he is the stopper in that QB cycle.

He might be. He might not be.

That uncertainty translates to his lame-duck status. He is signed only through the 2011 season, a $4.5 million extension tacked onto his contract upon an April trade from the Washington Redskins.

"I know everybody says it took me awhile to buy into Jason. I've always bought into Jason," Hue Jackson said Tuesday, after his promotion from offensive coordinator to coach. "Sometime until Jason truly understands the dynamics of his teammates -- exactly what they're capable of doing -- do you really know. Sometimes it takes people a little bit of time to adjust.

"Boy, once he got very comfortable, obviously we saw him play some of his best football of the season."

Campbell played as perfect as a quarterback could in the first half of a December loss at Jacksonville.

But he played poorly enough to merit a halftime benching in the Raiders' home opener against St. Louis in September. Jackson claimed afterward he ordered that move, casting doubt on his coexistence with Campbell.

Campbell welcomed Jackson's promotion.

"It gives us an opportunity as a quarterback and young receiving corps to be on the same page another year. That's very important," Campbell told Comcast SportsNet. "Stability in the NFL is something you have to have, definitely when you're dealing with a young group. The guys made a lot of strides this year."

Davis is sticking by his pre-2010 comparison of Campbell and Jim Plunkett circa 1980.

"There are late bloomers, and there are early bloomers," Davis said Tuesday, also referring to Steve Young and John Elway winning Super Bowls in their twilight. "What I'm saying to you is that if you take most of the quarterbacks and take a look at them, a lot of them don't get started right away."

Campbell will be entering his seventh NFL season. He didn't play as a rookie with the Redskins, who drafted him 24 slots below the 49ers' No. 1 overall selection of Alex Smith and one pick after Green Bay took Aaron Rodgers.

This past season, Campbell went 7-5 as a starter and ranked 18th with an 84.5 passer rating. More important in Davis' end-zone oriented world, Campbell ranked only 22nd in touchdown percentage (4 percent, 13 touchdowns in 329 passes).

How can the Raiders be convinced in Campbell?

Campbell comes off as quite average. He packs the pizazz of a librarian: calm, composed, studious and of admirable integrity.

Can an average quarterback win a Super Bowl for a franchise constantly engulfed in coaching turmoil? Plunkett won two Super Bowls, both with Tom Flores as coach.

JaMarcus Russell was supposed to end the Raiders' quarterback quandaries. Instead, he continued them. Drafted first overall out of LSU in 2007, he bombed so badly -- not just personally but professionally -- that no other team signed him after his release last spring.

"It hurt us a great deal," Davis said of Russell's failure. "But you have to go on. You have to overcome those things, and we almost did this year."

Asked if Campbell or running back Darren McFadden is more important to the Raiders offense, Jackson replied: "Everything we do goes through the quarterback. Obviously we have good players around him. That's the key to any quarterback, have good players around him."

If Campbell isn't good enough, who is? Davis praised Bruce Gradkowski's one-game ability but fears his injury history.

The Raiders don't have a first-round draft pick to use on a quarterback, and Davis favors Campbell over another Auburn product, Heisman-winner Cam Newton ("Kim Newton," Davis called him). Trading for Vince Young from the Tennessee Titans is an intriguing option once the labor talks are settled.

For now, the Raiders are all about Campbell, eerily similar to how the 49ers over-committed last season to Smith.

"We're going to create an environment for the quarterback here to be great," Jackson added. "We're not totally there yet but we're working to get there."

Greatness? At quarterback? It's as overdue as a Raiders winning season.

Contact Cam Inman at cinman@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/CamInman.