The Raiders are 2-5, and are heading into the last game before their bye week. The last time the Raiders went into their bye week with a winning record was in 2002. There is a lot of finger pointing, and boo's coming from the fans. Most of these are directed towards Jamarcus Russell, but is he really the person to blame?
Russell was drafted in 2007, his first year was wasted because of a hold out. His contract is a big reason for the finger pointing. Though the contract was very large, it was the right price for a QB going #1 in the draft for 2007. That is a product of a broken system in the NFL, a rookie pay scale is needed. Also, if you think that contract was ridiculous, look at Tommy Kelly, Deangelo Hall, Nnamdi Asomugha, Shane Lechler, Jevon Walker, Kwame Harris and the soon to be Richard Seymour contract.
There has been plenty of success for other young QB's, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan came the year after Russell and had immediate success. These QB's are looking really good so far into their careers, but they were drafted by organizations that are more stable than the Raiders.
The Ravens had a solid defense, and a running game that would protect Flacco his rookie season. He's only had to deal with one play caller and one head coach, which makes it easier on a rookie QB to learn a system and grow with it. The year after the Ravens drafted an OT, to protect their investment.
The Falcons drafted Ryan in 2008, and added Michael Turner to help protect their QB. Their offensive line play has been great, and the play of Roddy White has been outstanding. This offseason they added future hall of famer, Tony Gonzales to make life easier on the young QB.
Most of the blame today goes on Russell, but is that really the person to blame? We were horrible before him, and actually a little better with him as a starter. Look up the stats if you don't believe me. What have the Raiders done to ease Russell into the NFL and help him grow?
In 2007 the Raiders drafted their franchise QB, in Russell. They were coming off a 2-15 season, and their fourth consecutive 10 loss season. Since Russell has been a starter, he's had 2 different head coaches, and more play callers than Flacco, Ryan and Peyton Manning have had this decade. They currently have a horrible offense, but if you look at their play calling, you wonder if they are trying to win or not. What are the Raiders doing to make sure Russell succeeds?
In 2008 they drafted speedy running back Darren Mcfadden. He is a very talented running back, who has yet to produce like expected due to injuries. 7 offensive tackles were drafted in the first round, maybe Ryan Clady could have been blocking for Russell? The Raiders did not draft an offensive linemen, but chose to sign Kwame Harris in the offseason. We know how that turned out.
In 2009, the Raiders chose speedy wide out, Darrius Heyward-Bey. They passed on Michael Crabtree, who currently has more catches in 1 game than Heyward-Bey has all season. They did not draft any offensive linemen, but chose to sign Khalif Barnes, who has yet to make any sort of impact.
Luckily for the Raiders, Zac Miller has turned out to be a great player, and has given Russell a viable target. Chaz Schillens was becoming Russell's favorite wr in the offseason, but hasn't played a down in the regular season. Up to now, Louis Murphy has been a pleasant surprise, but him and Heyward-Bey are rookies, and it shows a lot of times.
The talent on offense is there and is filled with young talent and promise. Michael Bush, Mcfadden, Heyward-Bey, Schillens, Murphy, Miller and Russell are all on the 25 and under club. If we let these guys grow together, this could be team in a year or two that has a chance to put up big offensive numbers and WINS.
Al Davis needs to take as much responsibility, and blame for what he has done to the team he loves so dearly. Any QB, put in this situation, would not have that success, especially a young QB. If Davis's Raiders turned superstar wr Randy Moss into an after thought, what do you think they are doing to their young players?
I have faith in all of these young players, and I truly believe Russell and company will be the guys to turn this franchise around. Heyward-Bey, Murphy and Schillens will be a strong group of wideouts with different strengths. Bush and Mcfadden will be making plays, and Miller will do what he is doing now.
Raider Nation, keep the faith, and start showing up to games, or see you in LA in 2011.