Monday, December 21, 2009

A Parting Gift From Russell

This was a very fitting game for a season filled with many head scratching moments in the Raiders 2009 season. Going into this road game as 14 point underdogs, Head Coach Cable started 3rd string QB Charlie Frye over the $60M man.

In the mind of Cable, Frye deserved to start because (1) he is well prepared (2) is a gym rat (3) commands the respect of his teammates (4) is mobile (5) understands the entire playbook (6) JaMarcus is a bust or (7) all of the above.

During the first 3 quarters of action, a rusty Charlie Frye did a commendable job managing the game, avoiding sacks, and making enough plays to keep the game close at 16-13 Broncos. Aiding Charlie was a "bend but don't break D" (3 goal lines stands) and a stout rushing attack (241 rushing yards for the game).

At the 10:59 mark in the 4th quarter, Frye was KO'ed by a vicious hit. As Frye layed on the ground with a concussion, the Raider fans at the Stick N Stein in El Segundo let out a deafening collective groan and chants of "Oh No!", "Get up Charlie", "Not JaMarcus!"

It seemed like another bad case of deja vu similar to the game vs. the Skins where Gradkowski got injured and Russell came in to lay an egg. Russell came in and sure enough, 2 quick series of ineptitude.

Facing a last ditch drive, down 19-13 with 3:29 left, Russell started off this critical series with a sack/fumble (recovered by Carlisle) for a 13 yard loss. If Carlisle doesn't recover this fumble, is there any doubt about the hostile venom that would be spewed in Russell's direction? Somehow, some way, Russell rebounded on an unlikely 10 play, 62 yard game winning TD drive overcoming long odds;

* Facing a 2nd and 23, the Broncos committed a costly 32 yard penalty pass interference.

* Drilled in the ribs throwing an incomplete pass (sat out 1 play with JP Losman taking over for another incomplete)

* Coming back to convert a 4th and 10 to TE Stewart for 11 yards

* Hooking up with Stewart again for 9 yards

* Completing a 13 yarder to WR Schilens to the Denver 10 yard line

* On 2nd and 10 with :35 to go in the game, Russell finished the drive off with a pass to Schilens in stride for the game winning TD.

The reason that I'm hoping this is a parting Christmas gift from Russell to secure a thrilling come from behind victory over a hated rival is that in spite of the his late game heroics, Russell doesn't deserve to come back in 2010.

This game showcased all of Russell's warts in 1 quarter what we have witnessed in his previous 9 starts in 2009:

(1) The playcalling menu is stripped down to "QB Playcalling For Dummies" to accommodate Russell's skill set and poor understanding of the entire playbook. How many snaps was he in shotgun? 75% of the snaps?

(2) Russell's poor pocket awareness and lack of mobility. His inability to improvise and adapt when the pocket breaks down kills far too many drives.

(3) Russell's knack for fumbling (8 fumbles this season). I would venture to say that Russell fumbles at a higher rate per snap than any QB in the history of the NFL. It has come to the point where I'm truly shocked if he doesn't fumble at least once in a game.

(4) Calling a time out due to confusion. Russell's lack of fundamental football knowledge and formation recognition causes indecision and costly timeouts.

(5) Bouncing a pass well short of a wide open Murphy. Russell is unreliable to throw the ball accurately. Completing less than 50% of your passes simply is not acceptable.

Although the Nation can savor an enjoyable win, Russell is not, nor will he ever be, the solution to getting this team over the hump. Cable made the right call by starting Frye and Gradkowski earlier in the season.

The minimum baseline for a successful QB in the NFL is someone who commands respect, makes good decisions, is completely dedicated to his craft, and gives the team the best chance to win. Russell on occasion shows flashes of his talent but cannot be counted on to lead a team.


Blogger x said...

I can't agree more. Hopefully, it is just a parting gift.

That said, if he does change his mind and takes a pay cut, I wouldn't mind keeping him on the roster as a #3 to see if he ever "gets it".

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Raided Nate 75 said...

Great article. The reasons you gave as to why Russell shouldn't come back next year are the same points that were made by scouts coming out of college. Another year at LSU wouldn't have done any better; probably would have made it worse (have you seen LSU's offense?).

I wasn't sold on drafting him. I was hoping for Joe Thomas (OT), Adrian Peterson, or Levi Brown; and then go after Kolb or Stanton in the 2nd Round. Everyone was so big on Calvin Johnson and JaMarcus; and everyone knew that Al Davis couldn't pass up the unbelievable strength in JaMarcus' ability to pass the deep ball.

Oddly enough, a lesson should've been learned from the past about J'Russ with the signing and use of Jay Schroeder. Just because the guy can throw long, doesn't mean he has the tangibles to be QB.
I met Jay Schroeder in College, and he wasn't too savy on talking to me about his time with the Raiders. He was nice about it, don't get me wrong, but he wanted to be known for his time with the Deadskins. But he wouldn't go into the reasons why; which we all know it was because he stunk, and all the fans wanted Steve Berlein at QB.

I digress, the point is that at some point you can go after these throwing tangibles, but you have to look at the potential QBs game wits. This is where J'Russ (like Schroeder before him) totally misses the mark, and we are left with a QB of indecision (again, just like Schroeder). This is where Kevin Kolb impressed me coming out of college; and where Case Keenum, Jimmy Claussen, and Jake Locker do the same (except that Locker is staying one more year at Washington).

I would like to see the Raiders go after a vet, rather than a College QB. Why? We haven't been known for developing QBs, and we don't have the personell to do so, and that is with Hackett. If we don't keep Gradkowski, I would like to see us make a run after Orton (though I think he stays with the Doncos). I think he'd be an asset. Also Kellen Clemens would be another viable option (talk about cerebral). Everyone is going to be big on Chris Redman, especially after filling in for Matt Ryan in Atlanta this year, but I'm not sold on him (much like I'm not really sold on Gradkowski in our system). Outside of that, there is not much, and that is all dependent on a CBA.

We should use the draft to stock O-line and Linebackers. Starting with Oklung (OT, OK State), Suh (DT, Nebraska), or Rennie Curran (OLB, Georgia, if he comes out). Then move to John Jerry (G, Ole Miss), Eric Olsen (G, Notre Dame), Adam Iatoski (OT, Texas), Antonio Coleman (OLB, Auburn), Reggie Carter (ILB, UCLA), Joe Pawelek (ILB, Baylor), Dexter Davis (OLB, AZ State).

We can also target some of these areas in the FA market with Barrett Ruud (LB, Tampa), Karlos Dansby (LB, Arizona), Demeco Ryan (LB, Houston), Logan Mankins (G, New England), Donald Penn (OT, Tampa), Marcus McNeill (OT, San Diego), or Larry Foote (LB, Detroit). If we had to, I'd resign Morrison, but not Thomas Howard. Both are slow to the gap in the run defense, and both overshoot their gaps consistently; Howard more so than Morrison (but Morrison is overrated).

We are far from this "rebuild" from being over. We can pick up some value trading away McFadden (keeping Fargas and Bush), and cutting JaMarcus will help save cap space (if needed). Just my opinion

6:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say give the dude in the stands with the laser a game ball

7:29 PM  

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