Do the Raiders Have a Quarterback Controversy on Their Hands?

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Do the Raiders Have a Quarterback Controversy on Their Hands?
(Photo by: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Is JaMarcus Russell the best quarterback in Oakland? Should veteran Jeff Garcia get the starting job?  Is there possibly a quarterback controversy in Oakland?

The Raiders picked Russell with the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft with the full intentions of making him their franchise quarterback.  It was a classic Al Davis selection: Russell has a strong, cannon arm and is a very physically gifted quarterback.

However, the signing of veteran Jeff Garcia this offseason has created some controversy.  Actually, Garcia himself is really the source of the this controversy.

"I think there has to be some realization at some point as to putting the best players on the field that are going to give you the best chance to win," Garcia said during a radio show in May. 

"Now, if JaMarcus is that guy, then he definitely deserves to be on the field and should be on the field. But, if for some reason with what I bring as a player, from a competitive nature, and just the intensity and emotion that I bring to the field, and the knowledge of the game that I have—if that gives us a better chance to win football games, then that decision is going to have to be left up to the coach and hopefully he can make the right decision for the team"

Russell has started 16 career games.  He's completed 53.9 percent of his passes, for 2,796 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. 

The Raiders are 5-11 when Russell starts at quarterback.

In 116 career regular season starts, Garcia has a record of 58-58 over his 10 year career.  He's 2-4 in six playoff games.

Garcia spent the 1999-2003 seasons with San Francisco, 2004 and 2005 with the Browns and Lions respectively, 2006 with the Eagles, and 2007-2008 with Tampa Bay.

Garcia is a four-time Pro-Bowler.  His career passing yardage total is 25,537 with 161 touchdowns, and 83 interceptions.

"It's not an easy role to accept because of the competitive nature that is within me," Garcia said.  "I understand that JaMarcus is the starting quarterback.  I do believe that I am a starting quarterback, as far as caliber is concerned."

Despite speculation that Garcia could take the starting job from Russell, the Raiders have said otherwise.

"Our decision's made. JaMarcus is our quarterback," Head coach Tom Cable said. "There's no issue there, no decisions to make there. What we have to do is get to camp and have that competition. This is a learning time. The competition will really get rolling when we get to Napa."

Maybe it will be a good idea to start Garcia in 2009 and let Russell sit on the bench.  It's been successful for many other teams recently.

Think about Jay Cutler (sat behind Jake Plummer), Aaron Rodgers (sat behind Brett Favre), Phillip Rivers (sat behind Drew Brees), Tom Brady (sat behind Drew Bledsoe), and several other quarterbacks who have had success recently as a starter.  They all had time to sit and watch a veteran play before they got their chance to run the offense.

Russell did sit out nearly his entire rookie season but was it long enough?  He's still only 23 years old and has a ton to learn. 

We all know Al Davis loves Russell so the possibility of Garcia starting is pretty slim.  However, I know I'm not alone when I say it's a pretty good idea to give the keys to Garcia for one season.

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