Going Nuclear on JaMarcus

As anyone who reads anything I write, I’ve been pretty even-keeled about my approach to JaMarcus Russell. I’ve managed to stay away from the early hate that he has received in order to give him a chance to succeed before I labeled him a bust.

I still don’t think booing everything he does it productive, it shows how unknowledgeable Raider Nation can be. The Raider fans should only be boo-birds when Russell does wrong, because otherwise the fans are creating some of the poor production. Even when Russell throw an interception it is ALWAYS his fault.

Russell’s confidence has dropped off the map. Confidence is key for any quarterback and Russell’s is quickly evaporating.

In a rare move I am going to agree with Lane Kiffin’s strategy. Kiffin realized Russell wasn’t ready for the team to jump on his back and he rode the running game hard and kept Russell’s throws simple. Unfortunately is hamstrung his success. Cable in large part kept it that way for all of last season with mixed results.

This strategy puts huge pressure on the defense. At times the defense was masterful, but expecting the defense to carry the team consistently is a pipe dream in today’s NFL.

Coming into this season the coaching staff and undoubtedly the owner decided it was time to turn the big fella loose and see what he could do. It turns out not a whole lot. The more he was given, the more he struggled.

It was the only way to win more games and what was a great plan by the coaching staff crashed and burned with bad luck and bad decisions.

- Schilens broke his foot
- Garcia asked for his release
- Gallery broke his leg
- Higgins gets his brain scrambled
- Walker was permanently benched (although I’m not sure I disagree with this one).
- DHB and Murphy are starters

You certainly could make a case for the above impacting JaMarcus and I am sure it did. It contributed to his poor performance. It will likely be the reason Russell gets one more extended shot.

That said, it wasn’t hard to see the difference with Bruce Gradkowski at Quarterback. It had less to do with Bruce’s ability as a passer and more with his ability as a leader and scrambler and his ability to read a defense.

I’ve heard it over and over again. At some point a young quarterback has that switch come on. If it doesn’t happen in the first three years, the team usually starts looking in another direction. In rare circumstances, Eli Manning as an example, four years are given.

Al Davis is one of those special cases and as such Russell is going to get another shot.

JaMarcus to this point is a BUST. However, like the next guy, I love the underdog.

There is nothing Raider fans can do to prevent Russell from getting his shot again, possibly as soon as next week due to Gradkowski’s injury.

So instead of booing him, I’ll be cheering for him. Not because I like what I see, but because I love an underdog and I don’t believe Russell is a bad person. That switch just hasn’t come on for him. You can tell the game hasn’t slowed down for him yet when you watch him in the pocket.

So what are the characteristics of a Russell 180?

Controllables:

1. Get his confidence back – If he has confidence, so will his offense.

2. Become a fiery guy – Gradkowski raised the offensive performance based on this alone. His throws weren’t always great, but his players had confidence because Gradkowski was cramming it down their ear canals.

3. Take accountability – For the first time yesterday, Russell took some responsibility for his mistakes. Maybe there is hope for Russell on this one. He needs to take responsibility for everything even sometimes if it isn’t a mistake he makes.

4. Hold others accountable – If I was Russell, I would have had a few words for the offensive line yesterday. At times Russell didn’t have even one second to throw. There is a fine line between this point and the last. In general, missed blocks, incorrect routes, basically all mental errors would be grounds for being held accountable. All others can be addressed on film and as such the quarterback should take responsibility for it, as stated in point 3.

5. Work Ethic – There has been conflicting reports to his work ethic, but it needs to be top notch and it is something he needs to make sure he does.

Uncontrollables:

1. Get the switch to turn on – Maybe it never will, but JaMarcus is easily a smart enough guy for this to happen. This isn’t disputable. The question is will he work hard enough and will it happen within a certain amount of time.

2. Playcalling – Despite what the coaches have claimed, the playbook changes when Russell enters the game. Why? It could be because Russell lacks mobility. Still, you have to wonder why the shorter routes disappeared when Russell entered the game.

3. Fire Paul Hackett – Everything he has done has made Russell worse. Explain to me why he is such a quarterback guru? Are Chad Pennington and Rich Gannon the only examples? I don’t know the inner workings of the Raiders, Al Davis may be more attached to Hackett than he is Cable. In my opinion, Hackett needs to go and Cable needs to stay. Coaches need a full two or even three years and the ability to hire their own coaches. Hackett is not a Cable hire and he may be one of the primary reasons for Cable’s demise. Sure Hackett may be able to teach fundamentals, but Pennington and Gannon already had the leadership ability that Russell lacks, but they lacked the raw talent Russell has. Hackett has no credentials handling such a player and may have permanently ruined him.

4. Creative playcalling – What happened to the Cable playcalling we saw at the end of last season? I have only seen glimpses of it so far this season. Why is McFadden just now being used in the slot? How come DHB isn’t getting any screen passes? Bootlegs? Rollouts? What happened to the creativity and nothing to lose attitude?

5. Players around him – They need to help him out to cover up some of his deficiencies. Their success is hitched to Russell at least for a little while longer.

There is a lot that needs to change for Russell to have a chance at success.

B enched
U nimportant
S econd chance
T hird chance

Russell is a BUS, he has been benched, became unimportant, given his second chance and now he is on the verge of gaining his T.

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