Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Very Cool Leader

JaMarcus Russell had a bumpy ride as a 1st year starter for the Oakland Raiders. Here is a quick sketch of some of the adversity and challenges Russell faced in his maiden season:

* The turmoil and circus atmosphere of the Kiffin firing
* 3 Playcallers in 1 season
* Numerous offensive weapons injured (Fargas, McFadden, Carter, Walker, Curry)
* An offensive line having a difficult time providing adequate pass protection
* The natural learning curve faced by a 21 year old first year starter
* Playing through injuries himself

To finish the season with 3 wins in the last 6 games is a testament to the development of #2. In spite of a season filled with more lows than highs, the one constant has been Russell's cool demeanor. Russell's poised leadership was very evident in the Raiders 31 to 24 victory over the Bucs. The following play by play summary and quote gives me a warm fuzzy feeling about the Raiders future being led by their franchise QB.

To put this in the proper context, here is the play by play summary leading up to the clutch TD drive:

The Raiders were driving deep into TBay territory, down 14 to 17 with 12:25 left in the 4th quarter.

1-10-TB26 J.Russell pass deep right intended for Z.Miller INTERCEPTED by Piscitelli at TB 5. Piscitelli runs the interception to OAK 11 for 84 yards.

TBay takes over at the Raiders 11 yard line and punches it into the end zone on 2 run plays.
OAK 14 TBay 24

The Russell interception was a 10 to 14 point swing. Instead of getting rattled or panicking about throwing a bone headed interception and being down 2 scores with less than 12 minutes left in the game, Russell in the huddle said:

"Chill. We got this one."

The Raiders start the drive on their own 34 yard line with 11:21 on the clock.

* 1-10-OAK 34 M.Bush right tackle to OAK 36 for 2 yards

* 2-8-OAK 36 J.Russell pass short right to J.Higgins pushed ob at OAK 45 for 9 yards.

* 1-10-OAK 45 M.Bush pass incomplete deep left to T.Watkins (W.Allen). PENALTY on TB-W.Allen, Defensive Pass Interference, 43 yards.

* 1-10-TB12 J.Russell pass short left to J.Higgins for 12 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

In 4 plays the Raiders went 66 yards using only 1:34 of time of possession to climb back to a 21 to 24 deficit. The Russell interception could have been a knock out blow to a Raider team playing for pride against a Bucs team with a playoff berth at stake. Instead, Russell showed his true colors by leading the Raiders to victory reeling off 17 unanswered points in less than a quarter.

JaMarcus Russell's 2008 Stats:
212/389, 2571 yards, 54.4% completion rate, 6.6 yds/att, 15 TDs, 9 Ints, sacked 31 times

JaMarcus Russell's Stats for the last 3 games vs. New England, Houston, at Tampa Bay:
49/78, 626 yards, 62.8% completion rate, 8.0 yds/att, 6 TDs, 2 Ints

The improvement in Russell's play the past 3 games is indicative of the game slowing down for him and his confidence building. The mental aspect of the game is catching up with the physical tools Russell possesses.


Anonymous Raided Nate 75 said...

As excited as I have been about the last 2 games, I can't help again, to wonder, "Where has this been? This is the type of play we should have been playing the last 2 seasons!"

I'm left with the hope that there is more of this to come, but at the same time, with the feeling of "Here we go again." My turmoil will be either confirmed or put to rest by what we do (or don't do) as a team this offseason.

9:32 AM  
Blogger nyraider said...

Looking at the successes of Falco, Ryan and other young QBs, it is easy to second guess the selection of Russell, but I agree that he has shown steady improvement. With the right coaching and team direction, the sky is the limit. Unfortunately, that leadership and direction may be hard to come by.

BTW, Cable is reported to have drawn up the Bush option play "in the dirt." I like that.

9:35 AM  
Blogger kigleigh said...

Could be the start of something good fellas.I'll have all my extremities crossed from now til training camp that it is what we hope it is.
While i'm here,happy new year CJ,and happy new year Nation.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

I hope 2009 is an amazing year for all of you and most importantly, for our beloved Raiders.

The key, IMO, to JaMarcus' continued development is what transpires this off season.

The coaching staff and GM situation, the draft and free agency, all directly impact Russell's growth as a QB.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous cavalrysword@yahoo.com said...

You forgot to mention that JRuss was the one who made the tackle on the 84-yard INT return. And a mean tackle it was!

Still, I have a few qualms about his fashion sense.

Is Charlie Philyaw really the Raider icon you want to emulate?

9:03 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...


Good job pointing out JRuss' crushing tackle.

As far as the fashion sense ... I really don't care if JRuss wears a tshirt, 3 piece suit, or mink coat as long as he is a dedicated professional and leader on the field.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

Fashion is a matter of personal taste.


7:53 PM  
Blogger RaiderRealist said...


I know its early but looking ahead to the draft what do you think our number one need is? I'm looking at MLB(Rey Maualuga) and OT(Michael Oher, Andre Smith, or Eugene Monroe. Basically who is still there at #7). Between the two I think the priority is on defense, especially considering how bad we are at stopping the run.

A third option would be Taylor Mays, S out of USC. Hard hitter along with good coverage skills and run support. He could be the guy we thought Huff would be.

I don't see Crabtree there by the time we pick and after seeing Higgins develop over the course of the season I'm inclined to give him a shot as the #1 WR. Lofton has worked wonders with our young receivers and I'd like them to get more playing time to develop them further. I'd look at some WRs in the third round for depth(I wouldn't bring Walker back, but that's you-know-who's call).

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great take as always, Calico. The road to respectability can be a long and tortuous one or a short hop to the front of the line. In this era of parity, we all are quite aware of the worst to first scenario which seems to occur with predictable frequency each year. Predictable in that it will occur... to whom is another matter. Keep hope alive as the purple sun sets over the silver and black. (smile)


2:21 PM  

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