Who Shot JR?

By MikeBullock  |   Thursday, December 17, 2009  |  Comments( 7 )

Oakland Raiders
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Raider head coach Tom Cable informed the Denver media yesterday that Charlie Frye would get the starting nod this weekend when the Oakland Raiders face their hated rivals, the Denver Broncos. While it’s not set in stone, the noise accompanying Cable’s announcement certainly sounded like the door slamming shut on Russell’s career in Oakland, and probably the league.

Since he was first drafted by the Raiders number one overall in the 2007, the red flags have been all over Russell, and not the coaches’ challenge kind. A contract holdout spoke volumes about a seemingly greedy young man. The rumors of his lack of fitness announced his lackluster motivation to perform at the highest level. Russell’s failure to dive head first into film study showed apathy towards his craft and the only thing more troubling than his terrible stats is his terrible attitude.

Failing to take responsibility for the team’s performance, as well as his own is a sign of poor character and immaturity. A recent assertion that he refuses to restructure his contract to stay in Oakland next year can mean one of two things, he’s even greedier than some believe or he is truly incapable of taking ownership of the offense and the leadership role he accepted when he signed on the dotted line.

While Oakland head man Al Davis never should have drafted Russell, he certainly never should have given in to the hold out. Looking back, Oakland’s history of drafting quarterbacks has seldom been kind. Gaze no farther than Todd Marinovich for an example of what happened the last time they took a highly touted quarterback in the first round. In fact, when you compare the numbers, the two quarterbacks are eerily similar.

But, now it’s time to turn the page in Oakland. Charlie Frye will start the first chapter of the Russell free future in Denver this weekend. However, in one month’s time, all that will go out the window, as Frye and Bruce Gradkowski will both become free agents once again, leaving newly signed J.P. Losman as the lone signal caller on the roster, assuming Oakland does the smart thing and dumps Russell.

Looking at next year’s free agent pool, it’s a crap shoot as to who could deliver behind the Raider’s porous offensive line. One of the best bets might be Minnesota’s Tarvaris Jackson, a mobile quarterback in the vein of Randal Cunningham. However, Jackson has spent his days behind one of the best lines in the game and might crumble under the pressure Oakland’s front five allow to slip past.

Another possibility could be Chad Pennington, assuming he comes back well enough from his shoulder injury that ended this season. Pennington is another Rich Gannon type, showing himself to be very cerebral, while not so strong at the deep ball. His high percentage west coast passing style would work well in a Gruden type offense. However, who the coach is next year is an entirely different can of worms.

A handful of quarterbacks round out the list of potential Raider signal callers including David Carr, Charlie Batch, Brodie Croyle, Rex Grossman, Jon Kitna and a few other, less notable names. None of which, besides Kitna, have ever lit it up consistently, but while the Raiders have never proven adept at drafting a QB, they have shown the ability to pull one off the scrap heap and turn him into a star.

Either way, Russell should start packing his money bags and prepare to move back to the bayou. Odds are, he won’t survive any other team’s training camp next spring and he’ll be calling Andrew Walter by next June to talk about the good old days when they played in the NFL.
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