Raiders aren't doing JaMarcus Russell any favors


Russell is the QB of the future for a team stuck in the past.

JaMarcus Russell is at the crossroads in 2009. His second year as a full-time signal caller was hailed as his “make or break” season as a pro. Thus far, about all he’s broken is new ground on that ugly piece of real estate owned by Ryan Leaf. If Russell’s play continues to worsen, he’ll be riding shotgun with fellow Bay Area bust Alex Smith en route to the land most recently occupied by David Carr.

At the moment, Russell is standing in line at the ticket counter for a one-way ticket to Bustville.

With the way JaMarcus ended 2008, his play thus far is very disconcerting. Over the course of the final three games last year, Russell carved up NFL secondaries by completing over 60% of his passes, throwing 6 TDs and just 2 INTs. He seemed on his way up. His stock was getting ready to be given an all-out “buy” endorsement by Jim Cramer.

Three games into 2009, Cramer’s advice would be to “sell, sell, sell” all your JaMarcus holdings.

When a young quarterback enters the league with high expectations as a top pick, he is not alone in feeling the pressure. From the top to the bottom, all members of the organization are under the gun as their job security can be tied almost directly to the success of the quarterback.

This is where the Oakland Raiders have failed JaMarcus Russell. There is no sense of urgency coming from the top.

Russell did himself no favors by holding out and missing his first NFL training camp. He didn’t play in a pro-style offense at Louisiana State and therefore would need to go back to the basics in order to adjust to the league.

Two head coaches and some three different play callers later, Russell finally got the coaching he needed.

But was it too late or simply too much?

On any given day, JaMarcus has at least three different men in his ear. His head coach, Tom Cable, calls the plays. Ted Tollner was hired to “coordinate the passing game”. Paul Hackett is Russell’s personal coach, brought in to instruct JaMarcus in the nuisances of the game.

The thought of having three bosses brings images of Office Space to mind. Young JaMarcus sits in his cubicle, studying game tape, all the while being approached by Cable, Tollner and Hackett on separate occasions all reminding him that he forgot to put his cover page on that TPS report.


Cable started a “quarterback school” this off-season with the intention of getting Russell back to basics. JaMarcus participated, missing sessions only to undergo ankle surgery. Russell also participated in OTAs and every day of training camp.

The Raiders, in turn, drafted two rookie wide receivers and brought in Jeff Garcia. All moves were made with Russell in mind.

Garcia never pushed JaMarcus the way Cable envisioned. The veteran QB is now playing third (or fourth) fiddle to the injured Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.

As for those rookie receivers, well they’re still learning the ropes. Russell has been vocal about his young route runners and their NFL adjustment. No, he’s not going T.O. by throwing Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy under the bus. He’s just being truthful. Young receivers needs time to get into the flow in pro football.

Meanwhile, the $55 million veteran receiver brought in last year can’t even get a sniff of the field this year. Cable is slow to incorporate Javon Walker being that the ’08 free agent bust was recovering from a secret off-season knee surgery. Though Walker is healthy now, he still has suited up just once in three games.

The two receivers Russell did develop a chemistry with at the conclusion of last season are MIA. Chaz Schilens should return from his foot injury soon, but Johnnie Lee Higgins is nowhere to be found in the passing game this season.

While many are quick to call out Russell for a lack luster work ethic, consider the circumstances.

Russell might not be the workaholic that Rich Gannon once was, but he has done everything asked of him since last season ended. Whatever the coaching staff has fed Russell, he’s devoured with minimal complaint.

There in lies the problem.

Andrew Walter wasn’t drafted number one overall but his development in Oakland was a clear warning sign. The Raiders simply don’t have a game plan to bring along talent at the quarterback position.

This is why Russell has regressed. He’s back to square one again with new voices in his ear and new faces on the field. There is no continuity.

Imagine an ideal situation for any job. You’d love to be trained by a model employee. Someone who worked for the same boss, at the same company and in the same position as you. Someone who had success. Someone who can relate to you.

That someone was just banned from coming anywhere near the Oakland Raiders. That someone is Rich Gannon. Jeff Garcia has made the most of his NFL career but he was never going to mentor anybody. Gannon has been trying to do so via radio, television and print.

For his troubles, the former MVP was told to stay away.

Everyday in the office must feel like a never ending up hill battle for Russell. He’s never going to be able to exceed expectations so long as those expectations change with each new coaching regime. At this point, he’s been a made man in the NFL. Going at this thing called “playing quarterback” with no father figure, no role model. Just Russell all by his lonesome.

JaMarcus might not ever reach the top of the mountain and he must bear the weight of that as all the blame will fall on his shoulders. The truth is that the burden of blame rests on the tired shoulders of Al Davis and his impatience in building a winner.

Every man marches to the beat of their own drum. The acclaim Matt Ryan got in a year, took Rich Gannon a career and a half to achieve. Once the journeyman Gannon got his feet under him, he did things Ryan might not ever do.

How long will it take Russell to reach his peak?

That we may never know so long a he’s playing for a different team every year even though he never changes jerseys.


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Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Alex Smith Andrew Walter Chaz Schilens Darrius Heyward-Bey David Carr Donovan McNabb JaMarcus Russell Javon Walker Jeff Garcia Jim Cramer Johnnie Lee Higgins Louis Murphy Matt Ryan Paul Hackett Rich Gannon Ryan Leaf Ted Tollner Tom Cable

  • mdEUCE

    This is a very good blog. I really hope the coaching staff reads this and takes heed. Jamarcus should’nt be a bust by all means. He’s shown his upswing but if the staff don’t get it together soon, he’ll wind up ‘ballin’ for another team in the future. BTW, to the defense – PLAY 60 MINUTES OF FOOTBALL!!!! i’m friggin’ tired of losing in the last 1 minute of a game! geeesh

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  • Reality

    61 yards passing. No touchdowns. 2 picks. He has no accuracy. I can’t even watch his horrific performances anymore. Stop blaming an old man and any reciever that gets on the field for Oakland. Players play. He’s just not very good. Gannon was a poor comparison since he was lucky enough to play with Rice, Brown, Garner and an awesome o-line. Jay Shroeder would have looked good in that offense.

  • Mikey G

    Excellent Article and I concur wholeheartedly. To take it a step further I ask you this:

    At what point does starting Jruss when it is OBVIOUS to everyone INCLUDING the Quarterback himself that he needs to be on the bench become counterproductive? The guy has TOTALLY lost his confidence, and continuing to run him out there is just going to make matters worse. You have heard time and time again that “Throwing a young QB to the wolves” is NOT a good Idea because thier psyche just gets destroyed to the point that it can never be rebuilt (See Andrew Walter in Tom Walsh’s offense).

    At some point we MUST go with another QB, it is obvious that he is regressing, it is a sign that his confidence is shattered and that he doesn’t believe in himself anymore–and his teammates don’t believe in him either. Sure they can all say that they still have faith, and Russell can say that it rolls off him like water off a ducks back, but that is the Bravado, the Macho tough guy talking, Not the real person that is JaMarcus Russell, if the truth was to be told he would probably say, “I have no buisness being on the field, and I am absolutely KILLING my teams chances at winning a game, someone else needs to give it a try because I don’t want to be the reason for another season flushed down the toilet”

    Al is forcing Cable to play Jruss at the detriment to the entire organization–This kids shattered psyche will fall directly on AL and entirely blame the coaching staff for not “coaching” him properly. He has one of the best QB coaches in the game today-The problem is Jruss is not ready and he has lost his confidence. AL is blind. Keep throwing him to the wolves, and he will be seeing a sports psychologist by the end of the year.

  • The Kraken

    You wrote all that to conclude that AL DAVIs is the culprit in all of this?

    Al Davis bashing at the end of your article gives no one any more insight.

    All owners are ultimately responsible… Duhhhhh….

  • Tired

    JR needs to ride the bench… 2 head coaches and 3 play callers..They are the same plays people!!! We didnt change the whole O… That is just stupid to keep making the same crap up because this kid isnt good.. He wasn’t good in College and he is worse in the pros.. If that was Quinn out there looking like JR he would have been benched along time ago.. Cable is ALs puppett and so is all the coaches on the team.. How do we go thru different D-COORDS and we still run the same D??? Cause its ALS!!!! Rush 4,drop the LBS back 8 yards and make sure not to blitz!!! JS is sssooo coddled by this coaching staff and media,you would think he has done something to deserve all that money!!!

  • Max

    So the point is all you hatesayers are wrong is saying Russell is undeserving of his #1 draft pick status inspite of the fact that he shows no fire, is overweight, misses wide open receivers, and carries himself with no sign of distraught even when the Raider offense is thoroughly ineffective.

    Yes you are right. The Quarterback is NOT a Leadership position.

  • http://PissedRaiderFan Ted

    Sweet! now if we can get that lazy ass Russel to pull his fat ass weight around and play football maybe we will start winning some games again. I was a supporter of Russel until the Denver Donkeys game, now I can agree with the rest of Raider nation he is a bust ,a fat ass money sucking BUST! We should bench his ass and let the other two QB’s show what they can do, can’t be any worst than his sorry ass…………..TED angry Raider fan

  • Ted

    Sweet! now if we can get that lazy ass Russel to pull his fat ass weight around and play football maybe we will start winning some games again. I was a supporter of Russel untill the Denver Donkeys game, now I can agree with the rest of Raider nation he is a bust ,a fat ass money sucking BUST! We should bench his ass and let the other two QB’s show what they can do, can’t be any worst than his sorry ass…………..TED angry Raider fan

  • oc

    Going into this season I felt very strongly that if we weren’t 2-2 after 4 games that Russell would be benched and Garcia would play out the remainder of the year. With that in mind, I felt the Raiders were ready and built to win and actually make a run at a wildcard. With Garcia gone and JaMarcus playing horribly that alternate reality is but a fantasy. I disagree that he hasn’t been given the confidence by the staff – Garcia’s release, Cable’s very verbal commitment week after week since preseason that Russell is “our guy. . . the future of the franchise. . . etc” and the unshakable belief that Russell is going to be great as put forth by everyone that has a job in the Oakland organization, players, coaches, and media is 100% behind the guy. And yet his performance is dismal. But let’s not forget that NOBODY showed up for Oakland against the Broncos. Needless to say, the Raiders will do better on the road this year than at home because the fans hate Russell and boo him at every step of the way. How the hell are you supposed to gain confidence in the league when your whole fan base hates you and boos you in your own house?

  • Max

    Gotcha. It’s the Raidernation’s fault for losing confidence in Russell.

    Just because he has a 35% completion rate, is overweight, shows no fire, and parties after a loss is no reason to boo him.

  • Lewis

    Can anybody say MARC WILSON?
    I’m not saying that Russell does not have the skills, he just does not have the skills YET. Not ready, not ready, not ready…

  • alex

    Lets not forget J Russ lost his uncle (who he described as his father) in the offseason. I am the same age as J Russ and lost my father in june. I cannot imagine handling the pressures and responsibilities he has to right now… although $60 million might help me relieve the stress. I am not say poor J Russ, but it seems that no one is giving the least bit of slack for this…

  • Rockshow

    I don’t care who he lost! I lost my dad and still do my job……he fails!

    JR = BUST!

    I’m sick of being a Raider fan!
    I wish I could change teams!

    Not gonna waste my Sundays anymore!

    Al…..kill yourself!

  • eks

    losing your dad and going to the “office” everyday doesn’t compare to playing football in the nfl. at least you get to sit on your fat ass and eat chips while punching the key’s. he’s gotta perform at a high level at a leadership role with all that weight on his shoulders. sorry for your loss, but it is not the same.

    If you are to tell me then “you don’t know me” “how could you make a comment like that”…. then I say the same in defense for Russell. you don’t know him. everyone deals with situations in their lives differently. lay off the guy.