No seriously, next Sunday JaMarcus Russell will try to out play one of the best quarterbacks in football. Well maybe he won’t try to out play Peyton Manning, but if the Oakland Raiders are going to have any chance of winning this game, he needs to play well. I am kind getting ahead of myself, because Head Coach Lane Kiffin hasn’t decided how much time JaMarcus will play, but he did say that Russell won’t start. We all knew a few weeks back that if Russell played against the Denver Broncos, his time was going to be limited. There’s no word yet on how much time Russell will play against the visiting Indianapolis Colts, but frankly I don’t expect Kiffin to tell anyone out side of that locker room how much time the 1st overall pick will play anyway. There’s so little to lose right now that it’s almost stupid for Russell not to play the better part of the rest of the season; especially because a loss to the Super Bowl Champs this weekend could actually come to benefit the Raiders.
The Raiders are right in the middle of a mess of teams at the bottom of the NFL standings. I could be wrong, so someone correct me if I am, but I’m pretty sure a loss to a team with such a good record strengthens your schedule. In other words, if the Raiders don’t win another game (could easily happen, facing the Colts 11-2, the Jaguars 9-4, and the Chargers 8-5), and every other team right behind the hapless Miami Dolphins ends with 4 wins, then the Raiders would have the 2nd overall pick. I say that because of the article I clipped below. April 11, 2007, ESPN.com:
"Kicking the Raiders while they’re down: The Raiders finished with the NFL’s worst record and were rewarded with the hardest schedule in 2007."
The Raiders could lose the rest of this season and it would be alright with me; as long as JaMarcus Russell’s playing in at least half of each of those games. He needs the time to learn, and I’ve got to believe he’s learned all he can from holding a clipboard (at least until he’s got something new to right on it). He can only continue his growth by comparing what he’s been taught to what he experiences on the field. After he gets his half of playing time (I’m thinking he needs to play in the 2nd & 3rd quarters of the remaining 3 games) he can then spend time on the sidelines comparing what he went through against the opposing defense, and what he learns from the man who replaces him. Plenty of playing time for young J-Russ is one thing I want for Christmas, so he can learn a few things about what it’s going to take to be an NFL quarterback.