Maybe it was his mood but Tom Cable seemed to let his real thoughts concerning JaMarcus Russell be known in a recent press conference.
For the first time since the preseason, Cable indirectly stated Russell was light years from being a professional NFL quarterback.
There is no mistaking the inference, “we’d be here forever” when he was asked to elaborate on his feelings.
In the preseason, if you recall, Cable said Russell had a whole lot of areas to address in terms of his mental as well as physical preparation in order for him to be successful in the league. Because Russell failed so miserably to live up to his end of the bargain (with the exception of a token win in Denver) , the team suffered. I think Cable is right when he responded to a question as to whether the Raiders were a playoff team this year without Russell.
The answer is yes.
We’re not talking Super Bowl but an 8-8 or better record was certainly doable, considering how well the defense played on occasion. There have been problems, no doubt about that, but as proven by beating the Broncos, Bengals, Eagles, and Steelers (all playoff teams or potential candidates), any game is there to be had provided the right leadership in the huddle is there to motivate and move the team forward.
We have to wonder at this point if Jeff Garcia could have been that leadership in the huddle.
Garcia was exactly what would have worked.
Who’s to say how much he had left in the tank but even at 50% effectiveness he would have been an upgrade over Russell. However, Al’s investment in Russell meant he had to play and at least fall on his face before the evidence stared back to obvious failure.
By then it was too late to salvage the season. Bruce Gradkowski did great in a mop-up role, winning two games clearly on his own merits as a mobile QB and losing a third in Kansas City only because of the ineptitude of another first round Al Davis draft pick in Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Garcia saw the writing on the wall and left camp before the season started. With his strong work ethic, he wanted no part of a slothful, out of shape JaMarcus Russell getting the benefit of the doubt as an unquestioned starter, simply by being overpaid.
Garcia and Tom Cable were right all along in regard to their analysis of Russell.
The guy who was completely wrong in his faith and analysis of Russell’s character as well as abilities as a pro was Al Davis. That’s what killed this season. Otherwise, it just might have been a playoff run.