Raider Nation let out a collective sigh on Sunday when we learned Bruce Gradkowski would not be playing the second half against Washington.
The Raiders were trailing 17-10 going into half time. The team had been playing pretty well on both sides of the ball. They could have had the lead if it wasn't for a couple of questionable calls.
Then JaMarcus Russell came in.
Russell really made me mad earlier in the week with his, "JaMarcus only worries about JaMarcus." comments.
Yet, I still held onto a glimmer of hope that maybe the benching had really got to him and he would show us why we drafted him number one. His first series went OK. He completed two first down passes that got the team in position for a Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
Then JaMarcus showed his true colors. Checking down to the RB's, standing still as statue in the pocket just begging to be sacked, Throwing a pick (in enemy territory), and fumbling. In other words, typical Russell quarterbacking.
It seemed to me that the whole team knew that all of their hard work in the first half had gone down the drain as soon as Russell stepped onto the field. The players aren't dumb; they know Russell isn't going to put it all on the line to win. It seemed like they took the same approach. They had no confidence in Russell and played like a team that didn't care if they won or lost.
When Gradkowski is in the game, the team seems completely different. They know Bruce wants to win and will do whatever it takes to do so. This rubs off on the rest of the team and the results are hard to ignore. He's a leader and motivator.
Russell is an employee.
He's not a football player. He has no competitive edge, no leadership, and no talent. I don’t care how far he can throw a football from his knees, if he can't throw it accurately, it’s not a factor. He's just there to collect a check.
It seemed as though head coach Tom Cable saw this coming in training camp, when he questioned Russell's work ethic. I like to think Cable would have made the change at QB much earlier if it weren't for Al Davis' confidence in Russell. When Cable was finally able to make the change, the team improved dramatically.
Until Sunday, I thought we should try to restructure his contract and keep him for another year or so and see if he develops. Now, I say we just cut him. He has nothing to offer this team and obviously doesn't care if he's a Raider or not.
If Gradkowski's injury is serious enough that he doesn't play next week, we have to start Charlie Frye. I don't really know how much Frye has to offer, but I guarantee it’s more than Russell. I have never seen such a huge drop in play by a whole team as I did Sunday as soon as Russell came in.
Al has a lot invested in Russell and he has given him every chance to prove himself as an NFL quarterback. Russell has done nothing with this opportunity but gain weight and throw his teammates under the bus.
Al has never been afraid to tell someone to get the hell out, no matter how much they are paid. I think its time to do the same with Russell.