In Sunday's loss to a New York Jets team that was on a mid-season slide, the Oakland Raiders began searching for a scapegoat. Halfway through the first half the Raiders found themselves trailing 21-0. In an attempt to blame JaMarcus Russell, head coach Tom Cable pulled him from the game, replacing him with Bruce Gradkowski. Yes, Russell was struggling early, with two Interceptions, one a pumpfake which he lossed control of, and the other was in the endzone for Darius Heyward Bey, who fell to the ground rather than making any sort of play on the ball. The second clearly wasn't Russell's fault. The coaching staff had words with Russell, who was steaming with his own poor production, which ended up resulting in him sitting out for the remainder.
Aside from the two interceptions JaMarcus had played fairly well, and was still able to march the team up the field. The decision to pull him will only slow down his learning, because he was still our best chance to win the game. If he wasn't pulled from the game against the New York Giants at the half, down 35-7, why pull him when we are only down by 21 points? Especially when you are working on building his confidence, it makes no sense to show him that you do not think he can bring you out of the hole. His history has a lot of victories in come from behind fashion, that's when he performs at his best. It was the most inconsistant coaching decision I've seen from Cable and his staff.
There was no bigger hoax call than the phantom defensive holding on 3rd and 5, where the Raiders defensive pressure caused Mark Sanchez to make an errant throw immediately after the snap, while Gerrard Warren slammed Sanchez to the ground. This would've forced the punt, but the flag gave them a first down, and eventually led to the third TD of the half. Albeit, it was Russell's INT that led to this Touchdown, but the defense has the chance to get the ball back, and allow the offense to cut the lead in half, and gets fooled by a fake punt. So why not bench the whole first string? Don't place the blame on one guy.
It was a combination of mistakes by several players why they were in an early hole. In a way to make a point rather than searching for a scapegoat, Cable should have sat down all the players that cost the team in any way. The first play fumble should have placed, RT Khalif Barnes on the bench for the remainder of the afternoon. Aside from not blocking Calvin Pace, he tried to trip him, which warrented the second flag against Oakland in two plays.
Oakland's defense was almost able to keep the Jets out of the endzone early, but Thomas Jones pushed through and scored from one yard out on fourth and goal. It is a tough task to ask your defense to keep any team out of the endzone, especially when they start the drive on the four yard line. So this defensive stand will leave all eleven starters on the field.
The second offensive drive starts at the Oakland 18 yard line. The first play, JaMarcus completes a pass to Tight End Zach Miller, for a gain of eight. On second down, Michael Bush runs for a loss of two, which brings up third down and four. The offense was unable to convert for a first down, due to a Louis Murphy dropped pass. So the Raiders send out Shane Lechler to boot the ball deep giving the Jets their second possession of the game.
The Oakland Raiders were able to put some pressure on Sanchez during the second stand, which stalled the Jets offensively. They put a small drive together, yet yielded only one first down, and minimal yardage.
The Raiders' third drive began from their own 13 yard line. The first play was a run to the right side with Michael Bush, gaining four yards. On second and six the Raiders were successful with a delayed screen to Gary Russell which actually lost yardage, bringing up another mid-range third down. The next play was the first, third-down conversion, and first-down of the afternoon. The play showed JaMarcus Russell very poised, make his reads, and fire the ball to todd Watkins, who reeled in the catch. An uproar began to a play we are bound to see occur a lot more in the near future, JaMarcus Russel hits a wide-open Darius Heyward-Bey for 26 yards and another first down. That drive when JaMarcus Russell did something that overshadowed the previous play, when he pulled his big mistake for the afternoon and threw his first interception. David Harris was the only player in the area, and returned it to the four yard line.
Another Jets Drive starts just four yards away from the endzone, the best thing to Rookie Mark Sanchez. His stats up to this point were non-existant, but there was his one rush for 3 yards and a Touchdown. Mark Sanchez had thrown one pass, for 9 yards, but at that moment he was the "better" quarterback. Compare his stat line to JaMarcus Russel's after four drives; Russell had completed 6 of his 11 passes, for sixty-one yards, of which he added another twenty-plus yard gain on a toss to Tony Stewart. My point is That Russell was playing a better game, yes he had three turnovers, but why pull your franchise QB when the Stalwart Rookie from the University of Southern California has yet to attempt to pass the ball more than one time. The Jets were afraid to throw the ball around, because Sanchez is very faulty. Obvious to the play calling, the NY Jets ran the ball 54 times against the Raiders, and only passed if Rex Ryan felt lucky. If a team runs 54 plays, for a gain of 316 yards, and allow Sanchez to only eclipse Russell's pass attempts by four, with JaMarcus only playing the first and half of the second quarter, tells the story behind "Off his Mark Sanchez's" credibility in running the Jets Offense.
Which ever way the news gets to you, the message I got out of this game, is that maybe the Raiders are missing their injured skill players, or all but one of our starting offensive line? Maybe Tom Cable gives JaMarcus Russell to much freedom, should he be more like Rex Ryan, and portray a trust issue between himself and his young Quarterback? Darren McFadden needs to get back out on the field to help his young sidekick make the offense's rhythm finally get a chance to remain steady. For many of you Raiders fans, you have lost your faith in Russell, but he isn't going anywhere. Stop booing him, as he trots onto the field in hopes to score US a touchdown. He is only 24 years old, and will get better, just let him develop. We have six straight losing seasons, looking to be on our seventh, so why not just enjoy in the bask of watching him bloom before us all, soon it will happen, J Russ will begin to ball!
P.S. Even with some horrible stats, we will still let J Russ throw, Sanchez will sadly show how much he has been cast-off by the coaching staff in New York.