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The Quandary of JaMarcus Russell

Chances are nobody cares. For some reason though, I am really caught up on this whole JaMarcus Russell thing. Maybe it’s because I’m a big college football fan and loved watching him play at LSU. Maybe it’s because I saw him before the draft at an event and witnessed the whole cannon arm thing in person. Maybe it’s simply because I cannot believe someone can play the quarterback position for an extended period of time and not have more of a clue. It just seems to defy logic.
The more intriguing question is what the hell do you do now? JaMarcus will start again this coming weekend in San Diego. I do not expect that to go well. Which takes us to the question of expectations which sits near the heart of this whole thing. Quarterbacks selected #1 overall in 21st century NFL drafts are expected to contribute immediately. Russell has not. From the start, he has lagged behind. Worse still, he seems to be slipping further away as opposed to progressing.

Despite the struggles, I’ve been pulling for him. And, at moments last year, it looked like he was making strides. However, I’ve now watched two full games of JaMarcus Russell this season – against the Giants and Jets. My. Effin. Goodness. Not for nothing, I knew he was bad, but these performances were you-gotta-be-sh*ttin’-me, mouth agape, shaking-head-in-disbelief bad. Forget the numbers. Any football fan watching those games saw a player unprepared, unaware and, seemingly, entirely uninterested.

Russell lacks field presence. His decision-making is terrible. His arm, no matter how strong, is still wildly inaccurate. His footwork stinks. And, oh yea, he doesn’t seem to be much of a leader, either. If the latter was the case, you might be able to forget at least a couple of the first few items on this list. The problem for the Raiders is multi-fold. First, they’ve invested a ton in this guy. Second, the Bruce Gradkowski Experiment and Charlie Frye aren’t leading Oaktown to the promised land now, or later.

So, seriously, what do you do? It’s such an interesting situation. You almost can’t afford to put him on the feel on one hand. And, on the other, you can’t make any compelling argument to keep him off it. In fact, one could debate you absolutely have to keep him out there, otherwise, how is he going to develop?

I don’t know where any of this is going. All I know is that it causes my circuits to scramble. Part of me wants to already pen the post that Russell is already the favroite to claim the title worst #1 quarterback ever selected in the modern era. Whatever other side of the brain is reminding me that the kid has started all of 23 games. He’s even won seven of them. You can’t write him off yet. Then I imagine coaches watching film. Still, you can’t say it’s never going to happen (even if “it” means being an average NFL quarterback). I mean, can you?


  1. P-Cat

    October 28, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I hear ya. Against the Jets he looked completely lost, and at the same time, disinterested. And yeah, while he has played 23 games—and we're not expecting him to be flawless—after 23 games, has he improved at all. Is he a better QB for the experience? No way. After 23 games, it could be said he has regressed into an even worse QB. Dude, he's a Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith mega-bust.

  2. Anonymous

    October 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    agreed. in terms of #1s, he continues on this route he jumps couch and leaf for worst QB taken #1…at least in the last few decades, i claim ignornance on pre-80s drafts

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