Baptism By Fire For #2
Jacksonville 49 - Oakland 11
The Raiders were completely steamrolled by the Jaguars. The dismantling began on the 2nd play of the game when RB Fred Taylor took a handoff and went 62 yards for a TD. The Jaguars, one of the hottest teams in the NFL, had a sizable lead (14-0) by the time QB JaMarcus Russell took the field late in the 1st quarter.
In his 1st extended play (3+ quarters), Russell showed the rust of sitting for most of the past year and missing training camp. The rookie QB completed only 7 of 23 passes and had 3 interceptions and 1 fumble. Russell didn't find any offensive rhythm until his last series of the game when he led the Raiders on the lone TD drive (12 plays, 70 yards, 2 yard TD pass to Miller).
Is there anything positive to take away from this game? I believe it was important for Russell to gain valuable playing experience in preparation for the 2008 season. Every rookie QB at one time or another goes through a "baptism by fire". ``He was OK, he was happy to be in there,’’ Jaguars safety Sammy Knight said. ``He wasn’t scared. He was focused, and he wanted to test the waters. He made some mistakes, but you expect those to happen. It’s tough when you’re behind and aren’t running the ball.’’
For a rookie QB to face adversity and struggle is to be expected. WR Jerry Porter made a relevant point when he said``With things being out of hand, it was kind of a blessing. You could say, `the hell with the score . . . you’ve got to let him get his nose bloody some time.’’ Although Russell played poorly, he kept his composure. His supreme confidence in his abilities will help overcome the challenges facing him. ``JaMarcus doesn’t get flustered,’’ Kiffin said. ``It’s not in his personality.’’
Getting Russell ready for 2008, even if it includes a tough outing like in Jacksonville, is an important and vital 1st step to rebuilding for 2008. Prior to the Jacksonville game, Head Coach Lane Kiffin made the following comments that puts the 2007 season in its proper perspective:
"Anytime it's your first year together, you learn a lot about your players, how they fit and the changes you have to make in the offseason," Kiffin said. "You don't want to make a ton of moves right away when you get somewhere because you don't know enough to know. You haven't evaluated the players within your system and given them a fair shot.
"I think the most improving is in Year 1 to Year 2 because you have a full year of people. I'm extremely excited about the future here and our first year of building this thing and getting it going and seeing what we can do."
Up Next: San Diego Chargers visit Oakland
The Chargers have won 5 straight games and need a victory to secure the #3 seed in the playoffs. The Raiders have another opportunity to beat a divisional rival and further develop Russell for 2008.