Josh McCown started last Sunday’s game between the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos 4 for 5, with a great touchdown pass to Tim Dwight. With McCown cheering on the sideline, Head Coach Lane Kiffin made the change to Russell. I thought it was the perfect time in the game, and no better place than in front of a sea of Raider fans.
Here are two of JaMarcus Russell’s completions that I caught on tape. I was in position to get a great shot of his first pass/completion, but some woman jumped into the isle I was filming from (twice). I had troubles with my video editor and couldn’t splice the clips, so instead I put them in this form.
(Don’t click on the View All Videos, cause there aren’t any others)
I was very impressed with Russell, but so was everyone. Keep in mind that Russell ran the offense well with the equivalent to a highschool quarterbacks playbook at his disposal. He moved well, didn’t telegraph many passes, and honestly, he reminded me of Carson Palmer. He’s athletic enough to avoid the rush and to scramble at an above average level, but one asset in particular that stood out to me was his height. In the picture to the right you’ll see Russell dropping back to pass while looking to the right side of the field, but what I was unable to find captured by any photographer was what followed. He lets the Broncos’ defense get as close to him as possible before dumping the ball over the much shorter D-linemen to an awaiting Justin Fargas.
Because Russell stands over 6 and a half feet tall, he’s able to see things that only a handful of other quarterbacks see (6ft 5in: Palmer, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger). It’s still early to tell whether he’ll become a great quarterback or not, but it’s not hard to see that he’s got more of the skills that resemble the All-Pro’s in the sentence before this, than the QB’s that have been chosen in the top 10 of the last several drafts (Eli Manning, Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Alex Smith). Leinart looks like he might never make a name for himself in this league (you’re pretty bad if you get supplanted by a 40 year old Kurt Warner, and no, no regrets about choosing Michael Huff over Leinart, at least not now), Young wants to run more than he wants to pass, and both Eli and Alex Smith continue to show a lack of arm strength that may keep them from ever living up to their first overall draft positions.
- Russell’s part-time job isn’t necessarily a regular gig.
- “We’ll have to go back, see how he played on film, we’ll look at it,” Kiffin said. “There’s a lot that goes into it and as far as how he played, going to Green Bay, it’s not going to be real warm there, it’s going to be a tough environment to play in. We’ll also look at the health of our quarterbacks.”
- Russell, as promised, played with a limited package of plays as compared to the ones presented to McCown and Culpepper each week. Kiffin said the call sheet was condensed.
- “For third-and-4 to (third-and-6), the other guys had six plays, and he had two plays,” Kiffin said. “For 25 yards in the red zone, the other guys had eight plays, he had one. That enabled us, if we could keep it to two series, that he could play well. The whole thing was we need this guy to play well. We wanted his first experience for him to do really well, and put the right things around him.”
- Warren Sapp’s priceless take on the development of Russell: “I can’t wait until they give him the whole horse and let him whip it and let him do what he do.”
- Russell said he has never played a game in severe weather either in high school or at LSU.
- Sounds as if Russell could be No. 3 this week if both McCown and Culpepper are ready to go, with Kiffin reluctant to play him in a bad-weather road game.