Starting Gradkowski Could Spark Controversy

Tim PetersonCorrespondent INovember 24, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Bruce Gradkowski #5 of the Oakland Raiders throws the ball during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 22, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

No doubt about it, Raiders coach Tom Cable made the right decision by sitting starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell in favor of back-up Bruce Gradkowski.


Sounds like Monday morning quarterbacking, but its not. The truth is I called for this move a month ago, right after the Giants dismantled Oakland 44-7 in week 5.  


On the big stage, Russell managed to complete 8 of 13 passes for 100 yards, but the Giants defense exposed the third-year quarterback to pressure from all sides.


"We thought it was an opportunity if we came out and got after him early, there would be a lot of chances," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said of Russell. "He has flashes of greatness but we wanted to make sure he didn't flash against us."


That was the beginning of the end for JaMarcus Russell. And now that Gradkowski has asserted himself as the Raiders starter it should be awfully tough for Russell to regain his starting job again.


Or will it?


If things go south under Gradkowski, Russell certainly would be given a second chance. Oakland still has games at Dallas, Pittsburgh and Denver. All of which could blow the Raiders out if Gradkowski can't provide a spark like he did against the Bengals.


On the flip side, Russell’s season ended with an embarrassing 16-10 home loss to 1-7 Kansas City.


The errartic quarteback was removed from the game and replaced by the journeyman Gradkowski.


For the season, Russell has thrown just 2 touchdown passes along with 9 interceptions and has one of the worst quarterback ratings (47.7) in the league. Therefore, Russell should welcome another chance.


Enter Gradkowski.


Against Cincinnati, the former Toledo star rallied the Raiders to victory.


Gradkowski completed 17 of 34 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Bruce was “Almighty” as the new Raiders’ signal caller.


He engineered the most memorable victory of the season.


Gradkowski surprised everyone by finding Louis Murphy for a 29-yard touchdown strike that tied the game at 17-17.


The never say die attitude of Gradkowski sent a strong message to his teammates. "As a team, we're not really known for fighting back, and we came back," Murphy told the Associated Press.


Gradkowski gave credit to the defense for keeping the game within reach. "We're just fortunate the defense did a great job, got the ball back," he said. "We made a couple plays and that's it."


Scoring ten points in 17 seconds Dr. Gradkowski completed a bang-bang operation in the final moments of an unlikely 20-17 Oakland victory.


The win was huge for a team that’s won only a handful of games in seven years. Fans are wondering if Gradkowski is the long term answer?


Cable made the right decision to insert Gradkowski into the starting line-up as a temporary fix. In the long haul, former Raider Tim Brown thinks Gradkowski’s success could start a firestorm of controversy.


Recently on The Petros& Money Show, Brown spoke out about the future of JaMarcus Russell in Oakland.  The former Raider icon told Fox Sports Radio that Russell’s future looks bleak to him.


Brown went on to say that the organization would obviously feel more pressure if Gradkowski continues to succeed, while Russell languishes on the bench.


Brown didn’t offer any solutions to the underlying problem, but instead  offered a prediction.


He said that the Raiders organization (Al Davis) would have a hard time admitting that mistakes have been made by drafting Russell and Brown believes the demoted quarterback will be back as the starter, whether Cable and his teammates want him there or not.


Russell is in the middle of six-year deal worth $61 million. 32 million of that contract is in guaranteed money. So unless Russell agrees to renegotiate the deal, Oakland will have a 6-foot-6, 275 pound anchor around its neck for quite a while.