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.