Many articles have been written since the Oakland Raiders have signed QB Jeff Garcia in Free Agency to back up JaMarcus Russell. Many of the articles have implied that the Raiders are not happy with their young quarterback and that the 2009 season will be a make or break season for the young and talented QB.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Articles have taken Coach Cables remarks when answering a question regarding JaMarcus Russell at the owners meeting, and have twisted his words to fit their conclusions.
And with the Raiders bringing in Jeff Garcia, many are mistakenly reading that the Raiders are hedging their bets with regards to JaMarcus Russell's future as a franchise quarterback. Another pie in the sky assumption.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Does JaMarcus Russell have work to do to become the quarterback the Raiders know that he can be? Sure he does. Do the Raiders want him to mature as the leader of the team and work as hard as he can to become the best he can be? Sure they do.
The Oakland Raiders also realize that they drafted JaMarcus Russell coming out of LSU as a junior. JaMarcus Russell, while at LSU, took the majority of the snaps from the shotgun formation and was very seldom under center.
In other words, the Oakland Raiders knew that even though JaMarcus was the No. 1 pick in the draft, he would need some work to overcome his youth and inexperience.
Mr. Davis and the Raiders have always been a little different then many teams in the NFL through the years. When Mr. Davis believes he sees potential greatness in a young athlete, he has never been afraid to take some time to nurture and develop that talent. Nnamdi Asoumgha is just one small example of Mr. Davis at work in this manner.
Do they all work out? No. But when they do, they can be something special. I am getting off track, back to Russell.
Russell's development has been hindered by the trouble with getting him signed and causing him to miss all of camp and the preseason, the mistake of bringing "Lance" Kiffin in as head coach.
Also, the trouble at the tackle positions and protecting Russell, the lack of production at the wide receiver position and no stability in a play caller have and will add to a delay in the young quarterbacks development.
Once Coach Cable had been made the head coach and had time to get his feet under him, you could start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Over the last six games of the season, you could start to see why the Raiders used their first pick in the draft to take JaMarcus Russell.
As JaMarcus Russell started to have better protection, Coach Cable decided to start some of the younger wide receivers and you could see JaMarcus Russell start to settle in and play better.
Having a coach that was willing to pull the trigger with the play calling and call some plays that let JaMarcus throw the ball helped. The young wide receivers started to make some plays and the Raiders offense started to score some points which had been lacking for some time.
As a matter of fact over those last six games JaMarcus Russell had a higher completion percentage and quarterback rating than many of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. You started to see JaMarcus completing many passes between 15 and 30 yards and he was making it look easy.
One could always see that he had the talent just by the way he would hook up with his tight end, Zack Miller. And that was with every team the Raiders played knowing Russell was going to go to Miller.
My point of this article is that NO, the Raiders will not be pulling JaMarcus Russell a few games into the season and replacing him with Jeff Garcia. All teams would love to have an experienced Pro Bowl quality QB coming towards the twilight of their career as a back up in the NFL.
Especially if they were trying to groom a young franchise QB.
That is why Jeff Garcia was brought in to Oakland to give the team a quality back up quarterback. The Raiders also know that it will only speed up JaMarcus Russell's development to be around a quality Pro Bowl veteran such as Jeff Garcia.
Jeff Garcia is going to do all he can to show the Raiders he can be the starter and the competition in camp can only help Russell. Russell will be able to see the work ethic and the time a quarterback must put in to become the best.
Should Russell become hurt and cannot play, the Raiders will have someone that has shown they can step in on a moments notice and lead the team.
Last year was JaMarcus Russell's first year as the full time starter of the Oakland Raiders. With all the problems I have listed above, JaMarcus has shown that he can handle adversity. What I love about the kid is that when he plays a great game he never gets to high and when he has a rough game he never gets to low.
JaMarcus Russell has everything he needs to not only become a good Quarterback but a great Quarterback. He is very cool under pressure and no matter how bad things may get he just keeps coming back and fighting.
JaMarcus Russell is well aware that he has much more work to do to become the quarterback he wants to be. From all accounts, he is right there putting in that work.
I can only try and guess what Coach Cable has in store for the offense for the 2009 season. We already know that the running game will be a major part of the offense. What I find very interesting is a couple of Coach Cables hires on the offensive side of the ball.
Coach Hackett was brought in to be Russell's QB Coach, I think that will be huge. Coach Hackett is well versed in the West Coast Offense as an Offensive Coordinator and has worked and taught many quarterbacks. Ted Tollner has been brought in as a passing game coordinator and has a history of a more down the field passing attack.
I have to laugh when I read all the pundits write that Al Davis's vertical offensive philosophy is just drop back and throw deep. The Raiders of years gone buy have always utilized all parts of the passing game.
In the Super Bowl against the Washington Redskins, the Raiders used the short passing game to dink and dunk to start the game. Once the opportunity presented itself, they would take their shots down the field.
I think that Coach Hackett and Coach Tollner, as well as the addition of Jeff Garcia, was brought in for that specific purpose.
It looks like Coach Cable has put together a plan to develop an offense that will not only utilize parts of the West Coast Offense, but create a hybrid mixing in passes in the 15-to-30-yard range. They are going to create an offense to fit JaMarcus Russell.
As other writers are writing the death of JaMarcus Russell with some of the moves the Raiders have made of late, I see all the moves as a well thought out plan by the Raiders. This plan is to not only put in the players around JaMarcus Russel that he needs to be successful, but to develop an offensive scheme to best utilize Russell's skill set as well.
No, the Oakland Raiders are well aware of the quarterback they have in JaMarcus Russell and they are going to do everything they can do to make him great. I expect JaMarcus Russell to continue to grow this year and expect to see him leading this young team to many a win in the years to come.
JaMarcus does not have to watch his back. The Oakland Raiders and Coach Cable have JaMarcus Russell's back and you can bet the farm JaMarcus Russell has theirs.
Remember, when you are reading some of these negative articles by many of these so called experts, they are the same ones that were calling Nnamdi a bust early in his career. Many are haters and the thought of the Oakland Raiders ending up with a great young and very talented quarterback just irks the hell out of them.
JaMarcus Russell is going to make the Raiders proud. He has everything he needs to set the standard by which all current day quarterbacks are measured. It is all up to him and how bad he wants it. I am betting he wants it pretty bad. Does he have work to do? Sure he does and so do all the players that wear the silver and black.
The foundation has been laid with a much more talented young team then the record from last year shows. With a young head coach in Coach Cable finally bringing in the stability the Raiders have lacked. And with Coach Cable being smart enough to use Mr. Davis and work with him rather then against him, the sky is the limit.
At the center of that sky and the Raiders future is JaMarcus Russell. This young man knows what he must do and the Raiders know what they must do to give J. Russ the best chance to become all he can be. The plan has been put in motion and I expect to see great things, not only from J. Russ, but from the Raiders for the years to come.