Stepping Up In The Pocket: JaMarcus Russell's Gameplan For Greatness

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Stepping Up In The Pocket: JaMarcus Russell's Gameplan For Greatness
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The decision not to bench JaMarcus Russell for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles- proved to be a wise one- as Oakland emerged victorious from a memorable brawl at McAfee Coliseum.

The difference in JaMarcus Russell's progression through his reads was noticeable.

Sure, he continued to lock onto his primary receiver and tip off the defense, but his ability to use his check-down back and sense the pass rush provided remarkably different results.

The lack of productivity from Jonathan Holland and Darrius Heyward-Bey have given him little confidence in his second and third options. History will show that it typically takes between two and three years for most wide receivers to make significant contributions on offense, so don't give up just yet.

Great examples of this are players like Steve Smith from the Giants, Robert Meachem from the Saints, and Terrell Owens amongst countless others.

Chaz Schillens return to the lineup will give JaMarcus a viable option and prevent the defense from double teaming Zach Miller. This should present ample opportunities for an Oakland offense that is dying to break out.

If JaMarcus can continue to protect the football and make quick, accurate reads, he and the Raider offense should improve tremendously. It all comes down to JaMarcus's willingness to recognize when his receivers are covered and make a play with his feet.

Rich Gannon never looked to run, but he was great at recognizing when he could pick up a first down with his feet. His willingness to take off to evade an overly aggressive defender made teams change their approach to containing our offense.

Football is a game of adjustments. Every coaching staff shows up to the field with a game plan that they hope to execute flawlessly. It either works or it doesn't. You either adjust or you don't.

One thing is for sure; until yesterday, we let every team we played execute their game plan. When we make them change their game plan, the playing field is leveled.

When Jamarcus shows he can make plays with his feet, that linebacker has to spend a split second of his thought process paying attention to the quarterback and where he is in the pocket. Maybe that split second takes his focus off Zach Miller running a post or drag route over the middle.

In a game decided by inches and hundredths of a second, it could prove to be just the window of opportunity both players need.

If Russell can take what he should have learned yesterday and build on it, he should be well on his way to becoming a professional. The first sign of life since a disappointing loss to San Diego was enlightening to say the least.

Only the Raiders coaching staff was capable of determining whether this was the turning point for JaMarcus or not. It's real simple, when they came into work this morning, he was either there watching film already or he wasn't.

We all know he can be great, and I am betting that this time, he gets it.

 

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