The Oakland Raiders announced on Wednesday four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia signed a one-year contract with the team.
While Raiders executive John Herrera stated, "We're not going to say anything about a role", it is clear what Garcia's "role" will be: To mold and tutor JaMarcus Russell.
For those familiar with Garcia's career, it may come as a surprise he has accepted a role as a backup/tutor to the Raiders' quarterback-of-the-future. The 10-year veteran forced his way into the league by his exemplary work ethic and unwavering self-confidence.
Garcia also developed a sizable chip on his shoulder after he was forced to play in the Canadian Football League at the conclusion of his stellar college career at San Jose State.
He only received his NFL shot when his father impressed the late Bill Walsh with game tape of his son’s play in Canada and college. Walsh recommended him to the 49ers and then-coach Steve Mariucci.
Garcia got the try out and eventually the starting job. He was driven to prove he belonged in the NFL.
Garcia played for the 49ers for five seasons and was selected for the Pro Bowl three times. After his success in the Bay Area, Garcia bounced around the league, landing in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. Garcia enjoyed success with the Buccaneers, starting 24 games over the last two seasons.
Even at 39, Garcia still has plenty of talent and drive left to play the game. How he will accept a role as backup is still in the air.
One may wonder how suited the 6'1", 205 pound mobile Garcia is to tutor Russell who is a mountainous 6'6" and 260 pound pocket passer. One may wonder that is, until they consider what Garcia is being asked to do.
At the NFL owner’s meeting last month, Raiders coach Tom Cable reiterated his belief that JaMarcus Russell has room to improve as the leader of his team by “working more, working harder, working longer than everybody else, accepting the responsibility that his teammates look to him as the face of the organization, that he has to go above and beyond almost on a daily basis.”
Who better to help Russell embrace his role as the leader of the team than the quarterback who only made it into the league by working more, working harder and working longer than everybody else?
In my last article, I made the case that Russell needed to act more like Rich Gannon. However, while Rich Gannon was putting the Raiders on his back by outworking everybody else, the Bay Area was blessed enough to have Jeff Garcia on the other side of the Bay doing exactly the same thing.
So, while Rich Gannon isn’t available to tutor Russell due to his desire to spend more time with his daughters in Minnesota, Jeff Garcia is available and has now signed a one-year agreement.
It is no accident Jeff Garcia came to the Raiders. Paul Hackett, the Raiders current quarterbacks coach, helped Garcia reach the Pro Bowl in 2007 when he was the Buccaneers quarterbacks coach.
Ted Tollner, the Raiders passing-game coordinator, was Garcia’s quarterbacks coach for his final two years in San Francisco.
Both coaches are extremely familiar with Garcia as both a person and the consumate professional, and surely endorse him as Russell’s tutor.
Garcia’s work ethic and approach to the game will be on full display for Russell to see each and every day. Indeed, it was reported Garcia was on the Raiders practice field within moments after signing his one-year agreement.
With Garcia’s signing, the Oakland Raiders have continued to improve and are positioning themselves to finally retake the AFC West.