Tom Cable has yet to name his starting quarterback for the clash in Cleveland this Sunday. According to reports, Cable is waiting until he gets word on the health status of both Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye before deciding on a signal caller.
Needless to say, JaMarcus Russell’s heroics in Denver were not enough to earn another chance to start. Despite leading the Raiders to a dramatic win over the Donkeys, Russell is likely to be standing on the sideline once again unless the two journeymen in front of him are unable to go this weekend.
Want a snap shot of how this season has gone for JaMarcus Russell? Consider the following.
Twice this season Russell has led the Raiders to victory on game winning drives against divisional opponents on the road. When you toss in that 56-yard bomb against the Chargers on the Monday Night opener, Russell has actually given his team the lead late in the fourth quarter on three separate occasions.
Hardly the stuff that gets guys with $60-million contracts benched.
Of course having a QB rating (49.6) that is just barely better than your completion percentage (47.8) is hardly the stuff of which franchise quarterbacks are made.
Russell’s lackluster work ethic has led to this quarterback conundrum.
The supposed face of the franchise seems only to be motivated by do-or-die situations. Perhaps Cable is just hedging his bets by benching Russell to ensure his closer is ready to go should the game in Cleveland be close going into the fourth quarter.
The Frye Guy was anything but impressive in Denver. That Cable still values him over Russell says a lot. Frye’s decision making was shaky at best and his lame duck INT should be a serious warning sign for Cable to consider before completely closing the book on Russell.
Gradkowski, on the other hand, had injected new life into the struggling Oakland offense. No doubt this is The Big Gradkowski’s job if he is healthy.
However, choosing Frye over Russell at this point seems spiteful. Either Cable is trying desperatly to inspire his young quarterback or he’s just trying to punish him through public embarrassment.
Russell doesn’t need Cable’s help. He has proven quite capable of embarrassing himself via his on-field performance alone.
Cable’s motivation stems from his uncertain job status. Since he’s paid to win games, he has to continue to do so in order to keep collecting those Al Davis endorsed checks.
As a mobile quarterback, Gradkowski needs a healthy set of knees in order to be at his best. How effective can he be with two MCL strains?
As a game manager, Frye needs a clear head in order to be at his best. How effective can he be after having suffered a concussion?
As a supposed franchise quarterback, Russell needs the confidence of his coaches and teammates in order to be at his best. How effective can he be if two injured quarterbacks are being considered ahead of him?
Certainly Cable doesn’t want to get into the habit of playing musical chairs with his quarterbacks but he’s already had three different signal callers start for the Silver and Black in ’09.
If this is about winning, then the players who give this team the best chance at victory should be playing. If this is about sending a stern message to Russell, then Cable should just go for broke and do the most disrespectful thing possible by giving J.P. Losman the nod if Frye and Gradkowski are unable to go.
Update: Jerry McDonald reports that both Zach Miller and Charlie Frye were on the practice field today. Their involvement with the team would indicate that both have been cleared to play in the wake of concussions suffered. Gradkowski, however, was not at practice.
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