There has been a lot of talk about "JRuss" or "JBust" lately and I think a lot of things need to be put in perspective. I, like many of Raider Nation, was excited when we drafted him 200,7 but, again like most of you, have been disappointed with the results.
But we must clear the air on what is really going on, especially as the question on keep or cut him lingers after the recent signing of QB Jason Campbell.
Myth - Oakland Raiders owe Jamarcus Russell $9.5 million dollars if we keep him.
FACT - The Raiders do have him under contract and will owe him $3 million guaranteed, and if he gets injured in training camp or is on the roster Week one then yes we could owe him more. But the decision to keep/cut him is based on $3 million and I think Jamarcus should restructure his contract.
Basically Oakland should say to him "Look, take the pay cut and you can stay on the team, even compete for 1st or 2nd string. Or we cut you and you get only $3 million without likely getting picked up by any other team. Now, if you do get signed, it wont be for much and you still have a better chance with us."
Myth - Jamarcus Russell has poor work ethic.
FACT - Russell spent the majority of the off season out of the spotlight and was working with a personal trainer while being backed by Willie Brown and was reportedly a new man. This shows he did want to put in some work to get better.
Also last year he held a private workshop for the WRs in his home town in Alabama, which again shows he is trying to get better. Now I admit he should still be the first one in the locker room and the last one out as QB and should read the playbook and watch film, but he's still young.
Myth - "JaWalrus" tips the scale at 300lbs.
FACT - This report has never been confirmed. It was created by Raider Haters LAST year as well, and this year it came up again. This is reported by the same people who thought Oakland would sign McNabb or Big Ben.
On NFL.com, he is listed as 260lbs. This would also contradict his private work outs in Arizona and therefore damage the reputation of Willie Brown and other players on the roster who noticed him in better shape.
Myth - He is inaccurate and that won't change
FACT - When he trows, he is under constant pressure. Tom Cable as an offensive Line coach had his worst statistical year in 2009.
Further, can you name the No. 1 WR on the team?
Chaz Schilens? He got injured the first half of the season?
Louis Murphy? He was a fourth round rookie?
The only "receiver" that is considered solid is Zach Miller and he is a tight end! This year, an improved o-line (so he has more than a split second to make decisions) and some experience in our WRs could make a world of a difference.
Myth - He often looks confused on the field
FACT - I often look confused watching the play calls from home! Tom Cable, as good of a guy as he is for the Raiders, was one of the worst play callers I have ever seen. But the fact is that he publicly announced he is willing to relinquish those duties and pass them on to new Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson.
Myth - The rest of the team doesn't want to play for Jamarcus, compared to Gradkowski.
FACT - The entire year, we had a terrible time establishing the run. The previous two years, we had a top 10 run game. Again the o-line can be blamed, but also Darren McFadden and Michael Bush werent super stars either. And if the QB is faced always faced with third and long, it doesnt do much does it?
That also forces the defense to be on the field more and as they do well in the first half, while causing them to be tired in the 2nd with no offensive production. Another FACT is Jthat amarcus did come back to win the Denver game. And as for the o-line playing better with Gradkowski, he tore BOTH MCLs due to no protection.
Myth - Jamarcus Russell is the worst No. 1 drafted QB in history
Fact - This was his first year as a full-time starter. His rookie year he started one game. Then we had Daunte Culpepper for a bit. So he has not really been given enough time to develop.
Look at the number of head coaches and offensive coordinators Oakland has cycled through. Plus his "support" around him was a rookie RB, rookie WR, and porous offensive line. Peyton Manning threw 28 INT when he started 16 games with a 56% completion percentage. Plus what about Tim Couch, David Carr, Jeff George, and Steve Bartkowski? The only other notable No. 1 overall QB is Michael Vick.
BOTTOM LINE - Jamarcus isn't THAT bad. He's not great, but also hasn't had much of a chance. You put him in a better system like Pitts, Philly, or New England and I'm sure you would have better results.
But what to do now?
Oakland should renegotiate his contract, have him take a massive pay cut, and give him more time to develop. Then they should allow the rest of the team to get better, i.e. get back to a top ten run game, improve th offensive line (which was addressed in the draft), get Hue Jackson making the play calls, gain some experience in the WRs, and ANY QB will be better at the helm. Jamarcus has the talent, but needs help to help himself.