Let’s be honest. The minute you found out Bruce Gradkowski wasn’t coming back, you knew in your heart the game was lost for Oakland.
So did the team.
The extent of the injury is unknown at the time of writing. Hopefully it will not be too serious, as Gradkowski was at least able to finish off the series in which he injured himself.
This is a tough blow for the Raiders, who were really starting to look like they were turning things around with Russell on the bench. Coach Tom Cable was hungry for a second consecutive win. But as Russell came out to lead the offense again, the crowd booed; you could feel the excitement dissipate.
And not without reason. Almost immediately, the offense began to stall and the crowd began to leave.
With a strong Washington pass rush, and lacking Gradkowski’s mobility, Russell was a statue in the pocket. Sack after sack, stalled drive after stalled drive. Then his trademark interception, which lead to a Washington touchdown.
Then another sack and another fumble, which was lucky not to make seven for Washington.
Game over, just over a quarter after seeing Russell back in the game.
But honestly, what incentive was there for the team to play their hearts out, knowing that Russell was under center?
It didn’t help that Oakland got hosed by the zebras yet again. A disgraceful call on Hiram Eugene for interfering with a punt return, which the replay clearly showed never happened. Another awful call for pass interference on Stanford Routt, when everyone in the stadium but the ref saw Santana Moss trip over his own feet with no help from anyone. In fairness, even Russell’s interception quite clearly bounced off the floor into LaRon Landry’s chest, and should have been incomplete. But it was a badly thrown ball all the same.
But despite the calls being biased to an alarming degree, this team was in the game very strongly until Russell came in. Then he played so badly the team simply lost belief that they could win, and it all fell apart. It breaks my heart; it really does.
I honestly don’t know how JaMarcus Russell can have the gall to accept his paycheck each week. He is an embarrassment. He cannot throw an accurate ball, he can’t read the field or look off safeties. He can’t evade the rush, he can’t lead the team, and he is totally delusional about his own ability. I could go on...
I know that the Raiders aren’t one of the elite teams in the league right now. But the simple fact is that they are competitive under Gradkowski, a free agent, and the worst team in the league under Russell. I know the offensive line could use work, but Gradkowski seems to manage well enough.
It should have been Charlie Frye that came in and had his chance. If Cable continues to hitch his wagon to Russell, it will cost him his job. It really is that simple. It is already on the verge of costing Al Davis the support of Raider Nation.
The Raiders and Al Davis should just admit they made a mistake in drafting Russell, cut their losses, and move on. If they don’t, defeat will continue to be all that remains on their horizon.