There is no quarterback controversy in Oakland

JaMarcus Russell is the starter. Jeff Garica is Russell’s backup.

End of discussion.

No matter what you might hear discussed by Disney sportscasters. Despite the blurbs in Sports Illustrated, one thing remains as clear as the glass case housing three Lombardi trophies in Oakland: This is JaMarcus Russell’s job to lose.

Tom Cable assumed the coaching reigns in Oakland with an old school mentality. He’s building his roster through competition. Somehow his philosophy of competition has been confused with controversy.

Russell was the youngest starter in the NFL during the 2008 season. As the number one overall pick in the 2007 draft, JaMarcus was promised to be the face of the franchise and the arm with which the Raiders will attempt to pull themselves from the basement of the AFC West.

After a string of inconsistent performances, Russell hit his stride late in the season helping the Raiders to win three of their final six games. There was a sense of accomplishment and a foundation to build upon was laid.

Then, the Raiders made a shrewd move to acquire a veteran backup. All of a sudden Jeff Garcia’s one-year contract and a couple of unimpressive off-season performances by Russell had the football world talking of a burgeoning war in Alameda with the job of calling signals for the Oakland Raiders on the line.

Lost in all the faulty headlines and knee jerk reactions are the facts that it is only June, Garcia is in town for just one year and Russell is still learning on the job.

By all accounts, JaMarcus had his best off-season performance in Wednesday’s OTA and he continues to improve while showing more and more emotion on the field. Meanwhile, Jeff Garcia – who was openly campaigning for his job after one workout – was absent from the Alameda facility for the second time in as many weeks. While the reports are Garcia’s absence was excused, it does not change the fact that Russell has attended every OTA and is growing even without his mentor looking over his broad shoulders.

JaMarcus has been a fixture around the team facility this off-season. After Cable’s comments at the owner’s meetings were again confused with controversy, Russell chose to listen to his coach, ignore the media and instead just show up and continue to work.

Young JaMarcus is growing up before the eyes of Raider Nation. He is rising to the challenge issued by his coach.

Jeff Garcia appears unwilling to embrace his role of mentor in June. Come September, when JaMarcus is calling signals and Jeff is on the sidelines wearing a hat and not a helmet, the roles will be obvious to the world. When Russell has a bad moment, the flames will be rekindled and perhaps Garcia will get a chance to play. Just keep in mind that Garcia is living out his final days and Russell is taking his first steps.

Garcia is not a threat, he’s an insurance policy. What he insures is that JaMarcus Russell will have the starting job by proving it instead of simply being promised it.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: JaMarcus Russell Jeff Garcia Tom Cable

  • Mike

    I am lifelong Raiders’ fan here in NJ and the negative comments from people at the sports bar about Jamarcus Russell get to me. I think he is going to silence some people this year. I think the Raiders have a very good shot of being this year’s surprise in the NFL if everyone can stay healthy. JUST WIN BABY!

  • Raider Joe

    Thanks for this insightful column. I agree totally. There is not now nor has there ever been a QB controversy in Oakland this offseason. Picking up a veteran like Garcia as a back-up was a smart move. Important move. And he has a lot of knowledge and experience he could impart to a young player like JaMarcus. I am not sure that is going to happen.Jeff certainly doesn’t seem willing to do so thus far.His idea of mentoring has bedn ‘he will learn by watching me play, I don’t have to actually say anything’ is just BS.The truth is Garcia ultimately signed with Oakland because at 39 he failed to get a job as a starter anywhere in the league.And he needed a job.But that is his deal, he wants to start.Period. And probably somehow believed,mistakenly,that he had a shot to be the #1 guy if he could beat out Russell in an open competition.Assuming the Raiders coaching staff/owner intended to open the QB position up like that.They didn’t and won’t.Jeff Garcia NEVER wanted to be a mentor to ANYONE.And has never done so. I still do not believe he is interested in mentoring Russell.And I bet JaMarcus knows it. It seems that he views Russell as his rival, not a guy he should take under his wing.Fact is Garcia was in negotiations to be the Raiders starting QB in 2007.Almost signed. Why didn’t he? He wanted it guaranteed in writing that Oakland would not use their #1 overall draft pick on a QB in 2007. Al Davis refused stipulation and rightfully so. Garcia walked. I am glad he is the #2 should something happen to JR, but he has kind of irritated me. All this bogus “QB controversy” has been, in part, stirred up by Garcia himself.He has fanned the flames in interviews.More BS.As I see it, Garcia probably won’t be much of a mentor to Russell.He has no interest in mentoring. Because he probably sees it as in his best interest if the kid struggles.

  • Aaronraider13

    I have never seen the media want a young man to fail as badly as they want Jamarcus to fail. When do they mention his age? Never. He was 23 last year. How many 23 year old QB’s have been to the Probowl? Zero. When Garcia needed to win one game to make the playoffs what happened? He lost to Russell and the Raiders. He may be the best back up QB in the league, but that is all he is. A backup. he can’t stay healthy for 16 games. What really pisses me off is these so called raider fans that want this china doll to start over the obvious future of our franchise. We wanted Garcia 2 years ago and he crapped on us. Now he is here flapping his gums about giving the team the best chance to win? Get real dude. You are a backup. Deal with it!

  • Aaronraider13

    The best thing about Jeff Garcia is that hot wife he has at home.

  • JSpicoli

    JGarcia, Mr. Team, has been missing since Cable publicly declared JRuss is the starter, as he should be. Where is Mr. Team and Cap’t Involvement now? Besides the fact that Russell is our QB and is where he should be in his development, Garcia should be showing more dedication than this.

  • Aaronraider13

    Dumbass beleived all of the nonsense BSPN and SI were saying about Jamarcus and thought he could steal a starting job. Sorry buddy. Just be ready to play in case our guy gets hurt.


    It’s pretty simple if you ask me..
    Garcia thought if he played nice, he’d be able to come in and sit down the QB, that got him fired…
    How it must feel… Holding the clip board for the QB, that made you look foolish, and ultimately cost him, and Gruden their Jobs. Gruden landed on his feet at ESPN. Maybe he’ll remember his Raider Pedigree and we’ll have an ally with the bobbles.. Garcia, well Garcia landed at Russell’s feet.
    Life must suck for Garcia. Bang that wife like a Chinese gong, suck it.. and play some football.

  • Chris Shellcroft

    Spicoli, Big Raid, Aaron and Mike!

    Nail on the head! All of you!

    Garcia has shown his hand before the flop came down and he wasn’t even holding a pocket pair.

    This is Russell’s team for better or for worse. JaMarcus has the skill now he just needs to add the intangibles to become the leader of this team. I have faith and even if Russell is not the man for the job we know that Garcia is not for sure.

    The talent is there on offense. Marshall needs to get the run defense in shape and I’m positive that the Raiders are poised to take a giant step in 2009.

  • Pingback: Final Thoughts on Raider OTAs | Just Blog Baby | An Oakland Raiders Blog