Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell Didn't Fail Us... We Failed Him
Passing blame and judgment is easy, especially in unfavorable situations. And that blame often falls on authority figures and people in position of power.
For years, the masses and media blamed President Bush and those in power for the state of the economy, unemployment, and even obesity. Now with Barack Obama in power, nothing has been changed but the people we place blame on.
Yet no one ever stops to think maybe blame lies in the corrupt system that's been in existence for decades, an unmotivated and under-qualified workforce, or people lacking self-control and nutritional education.
Rarely do people ever consider our current state is the result of our failures as a nation.
As Raider fans, we have always blamed Al Davis when our team struggles.
We have also blamed players like Jeff George, Aaron Brooks, Daunte Culpepper, JaMarcus Russell, and other QBs.
Yet rarely do fans ever consider to blame the team as a whole, the organization as a whole, or god forbid... Raider-Nation as a whole.
Everyone—from the fans who support (or don't support) their team, to all the players who don't produce, to Al Davis and the rest of the Raider front office.
JaMarcus Russell, as well as Al Davis, shares blame in the Raiders' struggles. But neither is the sole reason for the team's failures. That's why it's called a team.
Suggestions that the Raiders would have been in the playoff hunt without Russell, or without Davis, are all absurd.
Russell took a lot of heat from a comment he made suggesting that his receivers weren't on the right page and needed to do a better job. Some fans and the media then came out claiming that Russell was just immature and doesn't know how to claim responsibility.
Immature? Sure, some rookies entering the league this year will be older than Russell. He is still a young man; expecting Brett Favre- or Kurt Warner-like maturity out of the guy is insane. Sure at his age he may be a little immature, but is that any surprise?
Can't take responsibility? That all stemmed from two comments Russell made. One came early in the year when he suggested his receivers weren't on the right page. And one came after he was benched when he suggested Gradkowski's success against the Steelers was because others were making plays.
"Now it's just all around. Guys are just making plays around him," Russell said. "In the Dallas game, after you go out and win in Cincinnati, there weren't plays really made the whole game, you know what I mean."
"Going into Pittsburgh, guys were making plays for him. That's what a quarterback needs, his surrounding players. That's what was going on."
That comment like everything JaMarcus says or does is over analyzed by the microscopes of a vicious media and fans.
Great QBs have always passed blame. John Elway did it. And Russell can't even hold a candle to the amount of whining Rich Gannon did about his teammates while in the league.
Reporters who make a living degrading the Raiders with over-inflation of should be non-stories are no better than tabloid writers. And their opinions have no more substance than stories regarding Lindsay Lohan's party habits, a feud between Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolee, Oprah and Stedman's relationship, Brad Pits' new beard, or whether Britney Spears wore shoes in a gas station bathroom.
Even if Russell was spreading blame to everyone but himself, was it not deserving? And did he not make an excuse for Gradkowskis' struggles against Dallas as well?
Was protection not almost non-existent for all Raider QBs all season? Did the Raiders not give up the second most sacks in the league? Did the level of protection provided by the Raiders O-line not result in Gradkowski suffering two torn MCLs and Frye suffering head injuries back-to-back weeks?
With all that, it's easy to say the O-line failed Russell as well as every other Raider QB.
Then there are the receivers. Russell accused them of not being on the right page. When two receivers collide running their routes, that assessment becomes pretty obvious.
Furthermore, at least six of the Raiders INTs were dropped balls that came off of our receivers' hands and into a defender's. And the team's leading receiver was a rookie with only 34 receptions.
It's easy to say the receivers also failed.
Then there's coaching, the real issue. With Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden, and Michael Bush at their disposal, the Raiders some how managed to rank close to the bottom of the league in total rushing yards, at 21st.
And while the team continued to struggle through the air, rather than rely on the talented back-field, the Raiders coaching staff elected to pass even more.
Then there's the fact that Russell rarely went over anything with coaches after a failed drive. This is true, but it's also the coaches' job to come to him. It's supposed to be a mutual relationship. Anyway, who is he supposed to go to? Tom Cable has no positive credentials outside of coaching the O-line. Paul Hackett hasn't been part of a real football team since 1998. And Ted Tolners' last real football job was with the 2005 Lions and they deemed him unworthy as an OC, demoting him to TE coach.
Others have suggested that, being in the same offense for three years, Russell should be further along by now.
But here-in lies a huge problem. Suggesting Russell has been in the same offense for three years is suggesting the Raiders current coaching staff is incapable of developing their own offense.
That would suggest that the Raiders are running the same offense that Greg Knapp and Lane Kiffin installed.
As much isn't completely out of the question, though.
It's unlikely the offense was created by Tom Cable, unless he installed the same offense he ran with the Idaho Vandals. That though could explain how basic the offense is.
Ted Tolner? I doubt it unless we're running the same offense that led to Tolner being demoted from the offensive coordinator position in Detroit.
Some have suggested that the three collaborated to create an offense. But that would likely play out like an episode of the three stooges.
Then there are those who believe the Raiders are just running Al Davis's offense.
Suggesting the simplicity of the offense is because JaMarcus has been unable to grasp an NFL offense is ridiculous.
Look at the offenses he ran in college and even his high school's numerous formations, sets, and packages. They both make Tom "Basic" Cable's offense look elementary, rivaling the complexity of your average Pop Warner team.
It is easy to suggest the offensive coaching staff failed epically.
Unless of course if you believe the same guy who led his team to a 41-14 victory in the 2006 Sugar Bowl, was four-time SEC Player of the week, and was the "Manning Award" winner is suddenly too dumb to grasp an offense.
Russell was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2007 draft. Along with the obvious huge contract and ambitions of becoming the face of the franchise, being drafted first overall also means you were just drafted into the worst situation in the NFL.
When a QB is drafted first overall or anywhere in the first round for that matter, the team needs to be built to accommodate that player. You need to get him weapons, protection, and play-calling that cater to his ability.
As seen by most of the prior mentioned issues, it's obvious the front office has failed as well by not giving Russell and the team the tools they need.
Then there's us, the fans. We've failed as epically as anyone else. We failed JaMarcus the second we booed him.
And by failing to sell out the Coliseum on so many occasions, as well as booing. All we have done is fail our team and shown that we as a fan base are not nearly as strong as we used to be or as loyal as we often claim.
Fans who boo their own team are merely the fan base's weak link. And fans who claim to be refusing to support the team, refusing to go to games, or boycotting the team for whatever reason were never real fans to begin with.
Fans who do what I mentioned above do nothing to help a bad situation and do nothing but break down players and an already struggling franchise, and are merely the "image fans" the Raider-Nation is so often accused of being full of. The only reason these people even associate themselves with the team is because they like the colors or the "thug" or "rebel" image" often associated with the team. They are nothing but posers.
It seems the media has finally destroyed what was once one of the league's proudest fan bases, and it only took seven years.
Now don't get me wrong. JaMarcus Russell failed as well with his performance and by showing up to camp overweight. And Al Davis has failed by hiring inept coaching staffs. But neither failed alone. The Raiders failed as a team and an organization.
Now, it would seem, the Raiders are headed in the right direction with the hiring of Hue Jackson. He at least has decent offensive coordinator credentials, most recently serving as the Ravens QB coach. Dating back to 1996, he has been the offensive coordinator for five teams, including the 1996 Cal Bears, 1997 USC Trojans, 2003 Washington Redskins, 2007 Atlanta Falcons, and now the Raiders.
Let's just hope he doesn't fail like so many others have.
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