Should we only be talking about JaMarcus Russell and Brad Gradkowski when discussing the starting quarterback job in Oakland ?
I say no.
There has been a lot of speculation and opinion written about who is the best player for the starting quarterback job in Oakland. I've read every argument and every angle printed here on B/R and other sites as well. Some of the articles make legitimate points, some don't.
I have been just as guilty of jumping on the "Bruce Almighty" band wagon and raking Russell over the coals as anyone else. While others are just as guilty, I have thus far failed to cover the fact that there are two other guys that would like a chance at the job.
For the most part, the fight to call the signals on game day in Oakland has been a two horse race between Russell and Gradkowski. However, one thing that seems to get lost is the fact that Charlie Frye and J.P. Losman would like a shot at the job, too.
Regardless of their qualifications or what we think their chances of winning the job are, they are on the team and should be considered when discussing the quarterback position for the Raiders.
Do they have a legitimate chance to win the job? Not likely, but they should still be getting talked about.
Frye and Losman have both been given an opportunity to start on other teams and failed to win the job. Frye was bested by Derek Anderson in Cleveland and Losman lost his job to Trent Edwards in Buffalo .
After being let go by their teams, both have been bounced around. Frye went to Seattle where he was a third stringer behind Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace. Losman was run completely out of the league, playing in the short lived, upstart UFL.
If they can't compete with the aforementioned players, how could they possibly compete with the great physical tools of Russell or the passionate leadership of Gradkowski? Truthfully, no one really knows if they can or not.
At least no one that isn't named Tom Cable , Paul Hackett, or Ted Tollner.
Losman has the arm and mobility but seems to struggle with reads and pocket awareness. He has the ability to escape a collapsed pocket and extend the play, but turns around and tries to fit the ball into a window that isn't really there. This usually results in incompletions and interceptions.
Frye has a decent arm and average mobility but also struggles to absorb the play book and the finer points of the position. He shows a propensity to panic when under pressure.
Rather than throwing the ball away or taking a sack to live another play, like Losman, he will try to fit the ball into an area that is inadvisable to say the least. The result is the same; incompletions or interceptions.
Let's compare the career numbers:
Player: Comp% TDs Ints +/- QB Rating W-L Win%
Russell 52.1 18 23 -5 65.2 5-11 31.2%
Gradkowski 53.3 15 16 -1 65.9 3-9 25%
Losman 59.2 33 34 -1 75.6 10-23 30.3%
Frye 62.0 17 29 -12 69.8 6-14 30%
It is clear from these numbers that if we were to base our opinions of all four of these players solely on stats, we wouldn't have much to choose from.
Russell has the best winning percentage—barely, but also happens to have the worst completion percentage.
Gradkowski has shown the leadership required, but has the worst winning percentage, even though he had a winning record in Oakland last year with a QB rating of 80.6.
Losman has the best rating and the most experience by far, but hasn't inspired confidence based on his inconsistent play in Buffalo.
Frye has the best completion percentage but an atrocious touchdown to interception differential.
All of this is fine and dandy to look at, but how does it translate? Well, perhaps if we look at it the following way:
There are six categories I've listed in the above chart. Let's rank each player on completion percentage, TD/INT differential, QB rating and win/loss percentage, then average the results.
Mathematically, that should tell us who really is the best option...on paper.
Russell: fourth, third, fourth, first. Average: 3.0
Gradkowski: third, first(t), third, fourth. Average: 2.75
Losman: second, first(t), first, second. Average: 1.5
Frye: first, fourth, second, third. Average: 2.5
Using this formula, the depth chart would be as follows:
1.) Losman 2.) Frye 3.) Gradkowski 4.) Russell
This brings to my mind an old sports saying that states, "The game isn't played on paper." In other words, stats don't mean anything. There's only one true measure of any player at any position: Performance on the field, in practice, and on game day.
What I'm trying to prove is that it doesn't matter what you, me or the math says. The only way to pick a starter in the NFL is to give them each an equal number of repetitions in practice, break down film with them, go over the calls and reads with them and grade them accordingly.
So here are my questions:
1.) Why have them all on the team if not to compete for the starting job?
2.) Why pay them to just stand there in case of injury?
3.) If it is only a matter of depth, why do we need three back ups when most other teams only have two back ups?
4.) Is holding a clipboard really worth $500K per year?
The point of this article is not to state my opinion of who should start at quarterback. The purpose is only to point out that, although we have four quarterbacks on the roster, the fans and "experts" are only considering Gradkowski and Russell. Why?
Wouldn't it be best for the team if all the players were given the same opportunity and consideration?