NFL

JaMarcus Russell Comeback Would Be Perfect for the New York Jets' Circus

JaMarcus Russell is expecting to make a return to pro football's gridiron.
JaMarcus Russell is expecting to make a return to pro football's gridiron.Jamie Squire/Getty Images
John RozumCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2013

JaMarcus Russell, one of the biggest NFL draft busts in league history, was of interest to the New York Jets.

Per Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger:

More recently, after Tannenbaum was let go, members of the organization had some very exploratory, informal discussions regarding former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the 2007 No. 1 overall pick who flamed out of the NFL after the 2009 season. Russell recently decided to mount a comeback in hopes of returning to the league next season.

That, however, has since been updated according to Orr in the same piece:

According to a person with knowledge of the Jets plans, there is no interest in JaMarcus Russell. We wrote down below that recently, members of the organization engaged in very informal discussions regarding the QB.

The thought of Russell getting under center for the Jets, though, makes perfect sense.

For one, the Jets are in dire need of a starting quarterback and they might as well be open to anyone. Mark Sanchez's play has increasingly regressed dating back to kickoff of the 2011 campaign, which has played a key role in New York missing two straight postseasons.

Secondly, Russell claims that the knocks on his return will be used as motivation.

Given Gang Green's quarterback situation and other needs to complete the rebuilding process, why not bring in Russell?

Looking back, the former No. 1 overall pick threw 13 touchdowns to only eight picks with a 53.8 completion percentage in 2008. That's not entirely awful given the heat Russell has taken since his initial departure from pro football.

And his production that season isn't far off from Sanchez or Tim Tebow.

Factor in the weaker quarterback draft class compared to 2012 and New York is limited on options this April. Rex Ryan's defense struggled mightily against the run and lacked considerably when backed inside the red zone (allowed a 58.54 red zone touchdown percentage, ranked No. 25).

Include aging linebackers and an inconsistent pass rush, and the Jets need to focus on defense during the 2013 NFL draft. Offensively, it's really just the quarterback.

Shonn Greene and the ground game proved effective (ranked No. 12), and any average NFL signal-caller would have taken advantage by setting up a stronger play-action. If there's one thing Russell provides, it's a strong arm to make every throw.

Unfortunately, thereafter anything can happen as his accuracy, decision-making and pocket awareness were incredibly horrendous during his brief NFL tenure. The same, however, can be said of Sanchez regarding recent seasons.

For certain he fared well in 2009 and 2010, because Ryan presented a great defense to win the field position battle and generate turnovers. It was Sanchez's job to manage the game and feed the ground game.

Now that the defense needs some retooling, the offense's weaknesses became increasingly transparent. Having Russell at the helm would not make things worse, as a fresh change away from Sanchez is needed.

Call the previous consideration of Russell desperate, but it's also at least thinking of a new direction.

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