Through a crazy year of investigations, accusations, smear campaigns by ESPN and continuing Quarterback controversy, Raider Head Coach Tom Cable stands before you in judgment. He has weathered the storms of controversy, while maintaining a professional dedication to the team and trying to finding a way to win that seemed on the verge of a break through only to disappoint when the Raiders could not put two wins together the entire year.
The first season is one of allegations of assault, a smear campaign by ESPN and of extraordinary effort to put a winning team on the field utilizing Al Davis's choices of Russell and Bey.
The Raider Nation looked to the start of the season as the year that Jamarcus Russell would break out and lead the Raiders to the AFC West title and into the playoffs.
Russell and the Raiders came out firing against their toughest division rival the San Diego Chargers, giving the Raiders the lead with little time left on the clock. The Raiders Defense was then put into "prevent" mode and gave up the game winning score. Still Russell played well and things looked bright for the rest of the season.
Russell's play went downhill from there and he became an interception and fumble machine that seemed incapable of leading the Raiders to anything but a series of three and outs. He was missing the easy passes and not making the long throws he was touted for in college. Raider Nation could only watch as Russell made mistake after mistake, week after week. Fans started booing and staying away from the games.
After a 7-2 start with Jamarcusl at the helm, Tom Cable benches Russell for young backup Bruce Gradkowski and the Raiders players respond with a surprise victory over the powerful Cincinnati Bengals. Gradkowski emerges as the type of team leader at the Quarterback position that the players and fans had hoped they would find in Russell.
After a short week loss to Dallas on Thanksgiving day, Gradkowski bounces back with an amazing win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, leading a fourth quarter charge that saw the Raiders scoring touchdown for touchdown with Ben Roethlisberger and the potent Steeler offense. Coming from behind with less than two minutes on the clock they rocked the Steelers for the game winning touchdown and the defense stopped Pittsburgh from answering as time ran out.
When Bruce Gradkowski goes down with an injury at the end of the first half against Washington, the Oakland Raiders are still very much in the game. Coach Cable chose to give Russell the second half at quarterback and the Raiders were killed 34-13. Earlier that week Russell had thrown the team under the bus saying that Jamarcus was only about Jamarcus and that he thought it was the rest of the team that wasn't playing well. That would knock him back to 3rd string behind Charlie Frye for the rest of the season.
Tom Cable and the Raiders show themselves a completely different team without Russell and begin to believe in a bright future. Charlie Frye starts for the injured Gradkowski and puts the Raiders in a position to win against Denver when he suffers a concussion. Russell comes in and leads the team on a final scoring drive to win the game in Denver. Russells finest moment of the season proves to be too little too late as Frye is named starter vs Cleveland.
Charlie Frye starts in Cleveland throwing for great yardage but blows the game with 3 interceptions. Russell and Frye split the season ender against the Ravens with Frye unable to continue after a productive first half. Russell blows his last chance of the season as he is unable to score a touchdown while throwing an interception and fumbling the ball away.
The Raider players almost to a man want Cable back as Head Coach. Russell's future success truly depends on being able to stay in a system he is just starting to understand, even if it means being 3rd string. Tom Cable has shown he can win if Russell is not the designated starter. So what is it Al? Do we win or do you fire Cable and start Russell? What would you do Raider Nation?