The Raiders have 99 problems but Russell ain't one. Well he cannot be completely blamed. Raider Nation has spoke and deem #2 as a bust. I disagree and it is not so simple to be quick to point the blame. This article is to create awareness of the many issues the Raider organization has that is outside Jamarcus Russell's hands.
I will start to say that I do agree his work ethic needs to improve. That is true. I do also think that he does make the occasional poor throw. But that is no reason to give up on him.
The Raiders are on pace for another 5 win or less season that has been the case since the team lost in Super Bowl XXXVII with QB League MVP Rich Gannon and that was the last year we had a strong QB. Since then Oakland has had Rick Mirer, Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter, Josh McCown, and Daunte Culpepper at the helm. And almost synonymously had Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable making the play calls.
And who is Jamarcus throwing to? In 2009 his two starting wideout were 1st and 4th round rookies Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy. Russell never had a chance to throw to a veteran WR as Randy Moss was traded before he had a chance. And we have all seen the problems with these receivers this year.
Further, his offensive line has consistently been an issue. In the offseason there was the signings of Pears, Satele, and Barnes to improve but have proved as no improvement by the 25 sacks he has had which is scary close to the 31 he had all of last year.
Speaking of last year, which was his first full time start as a QB, reiterating my point it is early to give up on him, the Raiders had a top ten running game. Now they are 26th out of 32 teams. When the play calling is Run, Run, Pass on 3rd and long that cannot be easy for any quarterback. The play calling should also change to involve more screen passes to utilize the high potential RBs we have on the roster. As well as more plays designed for TE Zach Miller, Russell's favorite target.
If we look at other teams in similar situations where they are in trouble that is "outside the power of the quarterback" examine Tampa Bay, Washington, Tennessee, Cleveland (which has Brady Quinn drafted same year as Jamarcus Russell), San Francisco, Buffalo, and St. Louis. Quarterbacks appear to rarely get the glory and always get the blame depending on team performance and that is a naive judgement.
So what do you do? Give up on $60 million Russell? Maybe easy for you to say when it is not your money. But you can not deny that Jamarcus has flash signs of potential and does contain talent, so we must endure the hard times and continue to invest in his future. Some may demand to see Bruce Gradkowski take the field but he will run into all the same problems mentioned prior in this article and for the season he has 2 INT, 3 sacks, and a 55% completion rate.
Jamarcus is only 24 years old in a poor system with young talent to catch his balls. You give him a better O-Line, more experience in his wide outs, and more reliable play calling then you will have the guy you need. The Raiders defense makes big plays but can not do it all game if the offense constantly has 3 and outs.
Give him time, but also get in his face to have better work ethic, and fix the other problems the Raiders have he should get better.