I'm going to go on record and say that I am a Jamarcus Russell supporter. Many things went wrong for him this season, which was a disappointment, especially after the way he finished last season. Many blame his work ethic, and his weight as well as his attitude. There is no doubt Russell has talent, but there is also no doubt that Russell lacked talent around him. Many things went wrong for Russell this year, and its time we all took a look.
Last year Russell finished the season well, despite having no help from the wide receiver position. Chaz Schilens evolved late in the year and became Russell's favorite receiver. During the first game of the preseason you could see their chemistry. In the first game vs the Cowboys Schilens had 5 catches for 52 yards, in less than a half. An injury forced him to miss much of the season, and his first game back was Russell's last as a starter. With Schilens out, that apparently gave Tom Cable no other option but to start 2 rookie wide receivers.
There is not a QB in the league that would want to be put in a postion where they were forced to have 2 rookies starting at WR, especially a young QB entering his crucial third year.
Drops and inexperience plagued the WR's and hurt Russell's progression.
The Raiders decided to pass on drafting an offensive lineman in the draft to protect their #1 pick, and instead signed Khalif Barnes in the offseason. He was supposed to battle Mario Henderson for the starting left tackle spot. He was injured in a Tuesday practice and didn't see the field until week 3 vs Denver. Barnes was supposed to solidify this offensive line, but only played in 6 games, and started 2.
Good thing the Russell could still count on his best O lineman, Robert Gallery. Oh, wait a minute, he broke his fibula in week 2 and didn't return until week 10, Russell's last game as a starter.
It would be tough for any QB to succeed without stability in his O line.
Cable talked about having three great backs, that brought something different to the table. Unfortunately, there is a saying that fits right in with this situation. Two's company, three's a crowd. Cable horribly mismanaged the three headed monster. He tried to distribute the ball evenly between 3 backs, and that was the biggest mistake he could have made.A successful 3 back system doesn't work that way, here is an example of a successful one. The Dallas Cowboys have three talented backs, but 1 gets over 50% of the carries the other gets 35% and the third gets 15%.
Cable's attempt to split it evenly three ways was a failure to say the least. None of the backs could find a groove, and when one happened to go over 100 yards, the next week that back would get less than 10 carries.
Darren Mcfadden has never been used correctly in the offense, and he never gets enough touches. Michael Bush should never get less carries than Mcfadden or Justin Fargas. The lack of a serious run game made life a lot harder on Russell.
Perhaps it was Gallery's injury that made the run game a non factor, and forced the Raiders to rely on Russell's arm behind a shaky line and 2 rookie receivers.
Before the season started, Tom Cable told the media that the main goal on defense was to stop the run. Well if that was Cable's main goal, then it was another failure. While the Raiders offense struggled, the Raiders defense was still giving up the big play and not helping the offense out very much.
I mean no disrespect to Cable, but after looking at his resume, i'm still scratching my head as to how he got a job as an NFL head coach. Don't get me wrong, this guy is a genius as an offensive line coach, and he should be one of the highest paid offensive line coaches in the league.
His only previous head coaching experience at a high level, was at his alma matter, with the Idaho Vandals. His best season there was a 5-6 record, he went on to have an impressive .239 winning percentage and was the first coach fired from Idaho in 22 years. Yes, thats right, he failed as a head coach in the WAC conference.
Though he had stints as an offensive coordinator in college, he never really did much to deserve a head coaching job in the NFL. I guess you could say he beat a lot of people to the punch, to get the job. No pun(ch) intended.
It is rarely a good thing when the head coach takes over the offense, because when the offense struggles there really is no choice but to fire the head coach. The Raiders averaged a pedestrian 9 points per game with Russell, two rookies wide outs starting and Gallery out. With Russell not starting and Gallery back along with Schillens and Johnny Lee Higgins starting instead of Rookies, the Raiders offense woke up and exploded to average 16 pionts per game. Cable's offense looked like he stole it from the Oakland Raiders playbook in Madden 1973. His lack of knowledge in this area doomed the offense. 17 touchdowns in 16 games, Cable also said the team would have made the playoffs if they had above average play. Not to go Mora on him, but Playoffs?! Playoffs?!
In Russell's defense, here are things that went wrong for him, that would have destroyed any QB's season.
1. Favoritre Receiver hurt
2. 2 Rookies Starting at Receiver
3. Best Lineman Hurt
4. Shaky Offensive Line
5. No Run Game
6. Tom Cable
This is my honest opinion, benching Russell was a mistake. It was already too late in the season to make the move. The Raiders weren't going anywhere, and this was Tom Cable's chance to get rid of Russell in the offseason. Had he played the whole season, and led the Raiders to a 3-13 record, Al Davis would of had no choice and would have released him. Instead Cable benched Davis' guy, criticized him publicly and all but got himself fired. Funny how Cable thought benching Russell could save his job, but instead it most likely saved Russell's job and got Cable fired.