Did Al Davis and JaMarcus Russell Kill Commitment to Excellence?

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Did Al Davis and JaMarcus Russell Kill Commitment to Excellence?

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What happened to the days when Al Davis would do whatever it took to win?  Remember his motto?  “Just Win Baby.”  One of the things that Al Davis is famous for is gambling on a player that has a high ceiling that other teams may have given up on.  25 years ago Al Davis would have done whatever it took to sign an athlete the caliber of Michael Vick.  Those were the days when the Raiders were still outlaws, and Vick’s baggage wouldn’t matter to Al.  Not only is Vick a world class athlete, he brings a “star” appeal that Al loves in his players.

I’m not saying that the Raiders should have signed Michael Vick and automatically given him job as the starting job.  But, they could have signed him and given him a shot at winning the job.  He is definitely a player that has proven he is capable of winning games in the NFL with both his feet and his arm.  This is important for two reasons.  First, the Raiders have struggled with pass protection the last few years.  Given Vick’s mobility and Russell’s lack of mobility, Vick would be more likely to get away from trouble when pass protection breaks down.  In addition, given the fact that the Raiders have a lot of young receivers that are still learning on the job, Vick is much more suited to tucking the ball and running for yardage when the receivers are not able to get open.  Second, Russell has not proven that he can be a competent and consistent NFL quarterback.  After last season, there were questions about Russell’s:  work ethic, leadership skills, and accuracy.  In addition, every indication is that Russell has not grasped the entire playbook.  Thus, forcing the coaching staff to scale back the play calling.

If Michael Vick is able to come back and resemble his former self, the Raiders could have solved their problem at quarterback and gotten themselves a steal.  If Vick is not able to return to his prior form, they would not have invested a lot in him.  It would have been a low risk high reward investment.  Even if the Raiders were unable or uninterested in signing Michael Vick, they had Jeff Garcia signed and in training camp.  Jeff Garcia is another proven NFL quarterback.  If Al Davis truly believed his “Just Win” credo, he would have given Garcia a fair shot to win the starting job, which I believe he would have.  In addition, starting Garcia would give the Raiders a better chance to win games now, and allow Russell to sit back, learn from watching Garcia, and more time to master the playbook.

Russell’s sub-par play may be the only thing holding the Raiders back from having a respectable record.  In fact, given the fact that the AFC West is not as strong as it has been in past years, the Raiders are a decent quarterback away from possibly winning the AFC West.  The Raiders were a decent quarterback away from beating the Chargers, the winner of the AFC West the last three years in a row.  Despite their strong start, the Denver Broncos do not look like an unbeatable team.  So in closing, I ask you Mr. Davis, are you doing everything you can to help the Raiders win games?  Are you truly committed to excellence?

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