Don't Quit On The Quarterback

Bret ArmstrongAnalyst IJune 6, 2009

BALTIMORE - OCTOBER 26:  Quarterback JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders looks to pass the ball during the game against the Baltimore Raven at M&T Bank Stadium on October 26, 2008 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Oakland fans stand up and say it with me...

"I believe in JaMarcus Russell."

That's all, a simple sentence.

JaMarcus' stats don't look great. JaMarcus hasn't had much help, yet. This could be the year that it turns around for him. This team is loaded with young, explosive talent on offense. A re-built offensive line that will allow him to have time to make the throws.

It is not his fault that at the end of last season, he was throwing to wide receivers that started the '08 season as fifth and sixth on the depth chart.

It's not his fault that the offensive line's pass protection has not been up to par with the run blocking since Rich Gannon retired.

JaMarcus Russell is going to be a great Raider's quarterback if we give him a chance before we rip him to shreds. Stop all the hating Nation.

Money? Seriously, if all this criticism is about money, WAKE UP! The whole league is bass akwards on this one. So, because he was a first pick in the first round, and because he made big bucks up front, he must produce up front? Ridiculous!

The purpose of this article is to break down his stats over his 19 career games vs. the stats of quarterbacks twice his age that are either in the pro football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, or are probably going to be one day.

Let's start with one of everyone's all time favorites, John Elway. Elway's career was full of ups and downs. Championship triumphs and championships fails. Super Bowl wins and Super Bowl losses.

He now owns an arena league team in Colorado. One of the most heralded quarterbacks of his day, however, he didn't get off to such a hot start.

1983, Elway's first year in the league after a round about entrance (which is a completely different story altogether,) his stats not that impressive. 11 games, 123 completions in 259 attempts, 1663 yards with seven touchdown tosses and 14 interceptions.

Now, I am willing to bet that you would never believe that Elway had a completion percentage or a QB rating this low, but brace yourself...47.5 percent completions with a 54.9 overall rating. Horrendous, no, not the right word. Atrocious, no still not right. Let's just settle for, they haven't made a word for it yet.

1984, his first year as a full time starter. His rookie woes must be behind him now. Sophomore season, surely, he has to show improvement. Albeit, he does, but not by much. His next 15 games: 215 completions on 380 attempts, 2598 yards 18 TD's 15 Int's.

So he does better, but mind you, we are now 26 games into his pro career. His completion percentage for this year is 56.4 percent, better than Jamarcus' overall, but not better than his last six games of last year, which was 60 percent.

Elway's passer rating is up to 76.8. JaMarcus' rating after '08 is 77.1. So, as you can see by the facts, which don't lie, JaMarcus is better than Elway so far.

I could go on with John. His rating didn't top Russell's until his fourth year in the league, when he hit 79.0. He didn't break 60 percent completions until 1993.

Alas, we move on to the next victim in my bag of tricks, Troy Aikman. Famous face of the Cowboy's 1990's dynasty. The 1989 draft choice out of UCLA.

The Cowboys frontman for twelve years started with a similar supporting cast to that of our featured player, Jamarcus Russell. His first two seasons worth of stats reflect his troubles.

Aikman, like Elway played 11 games as a rookie. He went 155 completions in 293 attempts. Like Elway, his interceptions total doubled his touchdowns total, nine TD to 18 INT. He threw for 1,749 yards with a long pass of 75 yards.

His completion percentage was slightly better than Elway's at 52.9%. His QB rating was a terrible 55.7. That is 21.4 points lower than the current Raider's starting quarterback.

Sophmore season, he'll improve right? Ya ok, most people do, so let's take a look. Again we have 15 games, like Russell and Elway. 226 completions in 399 attempts for 2,579 yards with 11 touchdowns and, ouch!, 18 interceptions.

Have you done the math yet? Okay, I'll tell you, it's 56.6 percent completions for an overall QB rating of a whopping 66.6. I can't make this stuff up folks. JaMarcus is better than Elway and Aikman. Are you staring to see a pattern here?

Unlike Elway, Aikman showed tremendous improvement in his third year with Emmitt Smith behind him, an offensive line in front of him, and "the playmaker" Michael Irvin to throw to. Again, that's a different story. Let's move on.

Next on the list, a former Oilers Hall of Fame QB who played 17 seasons for four different teams. Warren Moon went down in NFL history as one of the best passers ever throwing for 49,325 yards with an astounding 291 career touchdown tosses.

His first two years, not so astounding. 1984, his first year, he played all 16 games. he fired 259 completions in 450 attempts in the "run and shoot" offense. For those of you who don't know, this style is somewhat similar to the "spread". He threw for 3,383 yards with 12 TD's and 14 Int's.

Not bad, compared to Elway and Aikman. Let's do some math. 57.6 percent completions, and a QB rating of 76.9. That's actually decent compared to two of arguably the best QB's ever to play.

Let's take a look at Warren's sophomore year. Oops, looks like a slump. Only 14 games played, 200 completions out of 377 attempts, for only 2,709 yards and just 15 TD's to 19 Ints. What happened, injury perhaps? I don't know, I was only three years old at the time.

The completion percentage fell to 53.1 percent. JaMarcus Russell's current career mark in 19 games is 53.8 percent, very similar. The QB rating drops 8.4 points to 68.5, Ouch. The next year, 52.5% completions, 62.3 rating. The year after, 50 percent completions, 74.2 rating, and Warren's TD passes finally top his interception four years into his young career.

Are you seeing the trend here yet? Are you understanding yet that it takes time to perfect your game in this premiere league of football? Do you want me to go on?

Steve McNair, former Tennessee Titan and Baltimore Raven. Not yet a Hall of Fame inductee, but you could certainly make a case for him. Super Bowl Appearance, Pro Bowler multiple times, shared the MVP award one year. 31,304 career passing yards and a 82.2 lifetime QB rating.

McNair was brought into Houston in 1995. Before there was a Tennessee Titans franchise. We'll start in his 3rd season, since he only played a total of 13 games prior to that. So, it's 1997, McNair is at the helm. It's Houston's end and Tennessee's beginning. Time for Steve McNair to lead his team to glory, kind of.

His first year as the full-time starter, McNair puts up ok numbers. 216 completions in 415 passes for 2,665 yards with 14 TD's and 13 INT's. These numbers are very comparable to JaMarcus' last year, although JaMarcus threw only one less TD and had 5 fewer Int's. JaMarcus threw 368 passes with 198 complete for only 242 less yards.

"Air" McNair's completion percentage is a measly 52%. He caps a QB rating of 70.4.

Onward we trot to Steve's sophomore year in Tennessee. 16 games, this year 492 attempts (throwing much?) with 289 completions. All these pass attempts and Steve only throws for 3,228 yards. He tosses 15 TD's and 10 Int's.

His completion percentage is 58.7 percent and he boasts a rating of 80.1. Not too shabby McNair. I can only hope that this year's Raiders squad doesn't throw nearly this much. They should definitely run more than pass. Although, I'm thinking that by the time JaMarcus has 45 games under his belt his career QB rating will be a bit better than 80.7.

Are you keeping up readers? So far, JaMarcus "the bust" Russell is off to a better start than John Elway, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, and "air" McNair. Now on to our last quarterback comparison.

Raider fans will appriciate this one. Perhaps he will not ever be a Hall of Fame QB, but he certainly will always be remembered as one of the great Raider's quarterbacks. He has thrown for 28,743 career yards with 180 TD's. He played 17 years for four different teams. He completed 60.2 percent of his career passes.

Who am I talking about? Rich Gannon. The former QB who should've won the 2001 Super Bowl if we weren't ROBBED by the "tuck" rule, and also appeared in the 2002 Super Bowl where he was molested by his former coach Jon Gruden.

Anyways, letting bygones be bygones, Gannon started his career in Minnesota. Again, we'll start in his third year, his first two were insignificant. Flashback to 1990, Gannon plays 14 games. 182 completions in 349 attempts. 2,278 yards 16 TD's and 16 Int's.

His completion percentage is dismal at 52.1 percent, and his QB rating is just stellar at 68.9. Not too shabby for a guy who finished his career with a rating of 84.2.

Fourth season he throws 354 times with 211 completions and his yardage drops 112 yards to 2,166 in spite of playing one more game than the previous year. He throws only 12 touchdowns, but manages to keep his Int's down to 6.

Thus his rating increases quite a bit up 12.6 points to 81.6. His completion percentage increases 7.5 percent to 59.6 percent. Gannon plays one more year in Minnesota and throws 12 TD's and 13 Int's. His completion percentage drops to 57% and his rating drops to 72.9.

He goes to KC and has four seasons as basically a back-up to Trent Green before he comes out to Oakland and lights up the league winning an MVP trophy during his tenure. Jon Gruden leaves, he has one more good year, and now he's an analyst.

The morale of the story is, Raider Nation, good things take time. You're not going to find a quarterback anywhere who can come straight out of college and be in the Pro Bowl, or at least it is very rare.

Peyton Manning's first year, he complete's 56.7% and has a rating of 71.2. Eli Manning 52.8%, 75.9 rating. Drew Brees 17 TD's 16 Int's, and follows it up with 11 TD's and 15 Int's.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that JaMarcus will prove his worth this year. There are reports out there that Jeff Garcia will start, or that JaMarcus isn't working hard.

Look, let the coach's do the coaching, let the reporter's do the reporting. However, you must recognize that it is reporting vs. coaching.

It is a coach's job to get the players ready to play. To come up with a game plan that is substantial enough to win the game. To help provide an atmosphere where players can grow, prosper, and take advantage of their God given gifts as athletes.

It is a reporter's job to make people's lives hard. To take things and put a "spin" on them. To make the reader's read, and the newspapers fly off the shelves.

It is your job, as the reader, as the fan, to make an intelligent decision based on everything that everyone says, and based on your personal observations.

If you still think JaMarcus Russell is a bust, i regret to inform you that you are misinformed. Soon you will see.


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