There are two specific trains of thought on the recent news that JaMarcus Russell has dropped weight and altered his throwing mechanics.
- Wait and see…
- JaMarcus will still stink (He isn’t smart enough, no way he got wise, this is just good PR, etc.)
There isn’t much expected of Russell and taking the “weight and see” approach to his new found dedication provides the opportunity for Russell to surprise and opportunity for fans to jump back on Russell’s bandwagon.
A much bolder approach is that JaMarcus is JaMarcus and that he will not change and he will not succeed. He will continue to be horrible because of deficiencies in his character.
I’m not willing to be so bold, for fear of Russell actually proving me wrong; even if the chance of that happening would seem to be small. The wait and see approach allows for this decision to be made at a later time.
Russell’s on the field success is directly proportional to the amount of extra work he is putting into film study. Knowing when and where he can take a chance and the ramifications of that chance are part of where Russell has failed miserably.
Russell’s issue last season was two-fold. His receivers dropped everything and he missed them the rest of the time.
These five areas will dictate his success:
Work ethic: Is he putting in the extra work in the film room and on the practice field?
Mobility: Dropping weight will allow him to move around better in the pocket.
Throwing Mechanics: Dipping his shoulder and holding the ball too low have contributed to poor accuracy and fumbles.
Footwork: The prime reason for his poor accuracy. He seems to thrive in the gun, because it masks his poor footwork.
Leadership: He must re-gain the respect of his teammates.
Russell needs to address these major areas and it may also help his receivers by osmosis.
If he shows up early, leaves late and his weight loss is reality, Russell may have addressed two of the five areas of weakness.
If his throwing motion is actually improved, he has addressed three.
If his teammates again believe in him again, he has four.
The one thing I haven’t heard anyone discuss since last season is Russell’s footwork, but I believe Hue Jackson will be doing everything he can to get Russell’s footwork on track.
It is quite a tall order for anyone to correct 5 character/football flaws in one offseason. It requires an incredible amount of focus and mental toughness, which I am not sure Russell possesses.
With only Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye on the roster to oppose him, there is a good chance Russell will start again, even if he is only 80% successful in addressing his flaws.
I know this isn’t popular, because Gradkowski has become the defacto savior of Raider nation, but Gradkowski definitely is not a savior. He is a backup quarterback lucky enough to be competing for a job that Russell should never have relinquished.
It isn’t a condemnation of Gradkowski. I love the guy’s work ethic, grit and leadership qualities. He just has below average talent, even for an NFL backup. It is more a condemnation of Russell, whose limitless talent dwarfs Gradkowski, but yet yields less fruit.
If Russell is the farmer with fertile soil and acreage, Gradkowski is the guy with a rocky backyard vegetable garden. I respect Gradkowski’s ability to produce so much from so little, but if Russell plants and waters, the Gradkowski farm will not even be competition.
I’d imagine we will have a decent idea of how many of these flaws Russell has actually improved upon by training camp. Wait and see. I’ll make my decision at the start of the season.