Al Davis Must Choose Between JaMarcus Russell and Oakland Raiders
Because he can't have both. Not after a recent interview with JaMarcus Russell in which the young man spoke volumes by saying essentially that Bruce Gradkowski's success was just luck, his own failings are everyone else's fault, he's unwilling to restructure a contract he hasn't earned, though obviously feels entitled to, and that he worries about "JaMarcus and JaMarcus only."
HISS...did you hear that? That was the sound of the Raiders' hopes for a successful end to the season deflating as Russell entered the game in the second half of yesterday's loss to the Washington Redskins. That was the sound of the Raiders' morale, knowing they are being led by a kid who would rather eat, drink, and be merry than look at a playbook or give a damn about his team.
I don't even want to talk about the officiating in yesterday's game. Even the commentators were basically stating the refs were being biased against the Raiders. A garbage catch interference call, a phantom pass interference, upholding Redskins challenges and not the one Raiders challenge, despite the glowing similarities of each catch, were all nauseating to watch.
The refs should be ashamed of themselves.
But although those troubles didn't help matters, they are not why the team lost this game.
The team lost this game because they packed it in when the leader whom they respect, Bruce Gradkowski, went down to injury in the second quarter.
They packed it in when a young man who is supposed to be a leader but garners no respect, nor does he deserve any, came in to the game and began stinking it up like he has all season.
At least Russell got mad at times. He was yelling at his offensive line after numerous sacks. It's very telling, though, that the anger was misplaced. Most of those sacks were the direct result of his lack of mobility and football acumen, which just perpetuates the problem of "JaMarcus only worries about JaMarcus." None of those sacks were his fault. It was all the line. He can do no wrong in his own eyes. Baffling.
Never mind that Gradkowski can actually move faster than a sloth on crutches and is able to avoid the rush and make plays. Much of that is due to his football intelligence and that comes directly from putting in the work.
But Russell says he puts in the work, too. I don't see it, but hey, he said it so it's true to him at least. He'll also tell you that the fact that he's as slow as molasses in January has nothing to do with any of those sacks. Nope, it's all the fault of the offensive line.
And you can see how the team responded so positively to Russell. I'm sure they loved him yelling at them for missing blocks as he was holding onto the ball, showing no pocket presence, making terrible and narrow reads, and turning the ball over.
Of course, professionals respect that. When a guy plays that badly and continually blames his teammates, you've got to listen to him. You've got to give him his propers.
Yep, the team shaking their heads in disgust and giving up, despite the game still being within reach, showed that they really support this kid, because he obviously deserves their support.
The defense pitched consecutive three and outs to start the second half, but saw their efforts mostly wasted by a draft pick that, thus far, has been totally wasted.
Hence, as I've written earlier this season, they stopped trying. Why try when there is seemingly no point in doing so? Even professionals get frustrated, and with Russell's immature and selfish comments, coupled with his awful play, he has certainly lost the respect and love of his teammates.
You could actually see their shoulders slump when Russell ran on the field. Granted, the kid needs more support than that, and I was a little disappointed that fans began booing him immediately despite him doing nothing wrong as of yet. At least I was at first.
But it certainly turned out to be prophetic, didn't it?
Perhaps the most telling moment of the entire game, at least as it pertains to how teammates feel about Russell, was on a late sack by beast Brian Orakpo (yes, I know we could've had him).
Orakpo abused Cornell "Turnstile" Green, but not before Green had blocked for about three full seconds. Russell, unable to read the field and get rid of the ball quickly (surprising, I know) took the sack. Green then began jumping up and down in frustration.
Let me make this clear: We've all seen offensive lineman frustrated with themselves after giving up sacks. They generally hang their heads, point at their chest, or slap themselves in the helmet.
They don't jump up and down and posture like that when they're angry with themselves. It was very obvious Green was extremely frustrated with Russell's utter lack of quarterbacking ability and pocket presence, and that he was tired of Russell making the line look bad. Not that they played well, but Russell didn't do them any favours.
That statement was echoed in the movement and deeds of the entire roster of the Oakland Raiders if you chose to look closely enough. This is a game we should've won, and could've won, had we had a quarterback the team actually respected and had even a smidgen of faith in.
JaMarcus Russell, through words, deeds, inaction, laziness, entitlement, immaturity, and an utter lack of self-awareness, has caused the opposite feelings to manifest.
I have been one of his biggest supporters, and have refused to utter the following words because I wanted him to succeed so badly. We needed him to succeed.
But now I have to admit it to myself: JaMarcus Russell is an awful, awful quarterback, and a complete waste on this roster.
If that's the "totally new JaMarcus" he promised, why did it look so much like the old JaMarcus? Only, possibly (if it's possible), even worse?
Al Davis has a serious decision to make. This team does not want JaMarcus Russell as its quarterback. The Raider Nation does not want him anywhere near Oakland at all. Every step of the way this kid has shown himself to be not ready for primetime, whether as a player on the field or a leader off of it.
Al Davis must decide whether a team-wide revolt is worth his stubbornness and the validation of his ego. He must decide whether to keep a very self-centered kid who won't even talk of restructuring his contract, despite the most catastrophic beginning to a quarterback career since Ryan Leaf. That may even be being kind to Russell.
He must decide whether it is worth risking losing his entire team and fan base to desperately cling to a kid who Davis has gone to great lengths to defend and praise in public.
He must decide whether his ego is more important than his franchise.
So with that in mind, I give you JaMarcus Russell, Oakland's starting quarterback for 2010.
Somebody shoot me now.
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