The honeymoon has long since concluded for JaMarcus Russell. The let’s wait and see outlook has been replaced by a let’s see how much weight he’s put on mentality.
This week alone has been a perfect snapshot of where his NFL career currently stands.
Just plug his name into a Google search and you’ll see what I mean.
Everything from his taste in jewelry to Rich Gannon’s take on his perception in the Oakland locker room is delivered in easily clickable links within a matter of seconds.
Then, buried in blurb regarding Tom Cable’s job status in a report on ESPN.com is the following.
Meanwhile, Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell is training in Arizona. The word is Russell has already shed some weight and he is working on improving his mechanics. It is Russell’s goal to show up for the Raiders’ off-season program in the spring in better physical shape and improved as a quarterback.
This is a good first step for Russell. He is likely entering his last chance in Oakland and he seems to be taking the situation seriously.
His performance in 2009 spoke for itself. After finding success late in 2008, Russell assumed he had hit his stride and finally found a rhythm in the NFL. What he failed to realize is that while the player adjusts to the NFL, the league also adjusts to the player.
No excuses needed, his lack of preparation shone as brightly as the links around his neck.
Playing behind an offensive line incapable of protecting themselves from getting wet if they had umbrellas didn’t help. Neither did the Houdini act pulled by the running game nor the rookie wide receivers learning on the job.
But hey, when you’re supposed to be the franchise quarterback expectations are that you’ll raise the team’s level of play. Not stoop to it.
From his aloof demeanor to his Vegas vacation to his coronation as the king of Mardi Gras and finally the public display of his diamond fetish. All would indicate an individual who simply rests on his laurels feeling no guilt for a less than exemplary work ethic.
Then a brief paragraph appears hidden in an innocuous non-update on the Cable situation.
JaMarcus has done himself no favors with a QB rating of 50.0 in ‘09. Bruce Gradkowski played behind the same O-line and posted a rating of 80.6 while also breathing life into the walking dead that was the Oakland offense.
There are clearly some not so subtle derogatory tones taken by many when criticizing Russell. His jewels are lampooned while Matthew Stafford being fondled by women for the sake of selling shampoo is largely ignored.
Make of it what you will. Only one thing can reverse this tide of negativity levied against Russell. The ball is in his court.
2010 is shaping up as the final chance to prove himself as an NFL caliber signal caller. Never mind franchise status. He’ll have to first prove himself better than Gradkowski first before any discussion of living up to his draft status can ensue.
Otherwise, Russell can forget about any positive news about him being nothing more than a footnote. His career will be one.
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