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Russell Breakout, Garcia Out


Forgot about it. Jeff Garcia doesn't want to be a Raider. He asked for his release. He wasn't content behind Russell. He wasn't comfortable being a mentor. He wasn't any more talented than Charlie Frye or Bruce Gradkowski. He is not coming back to Oakland.

Garcia may be miles ahead of the three quarterbacks on the Raiders roster when it comes to his understanding of the game and his craftiness as an NFL quarterback. That doesn't mean he is any kind of savior for this franchise. At his age he isn't going to be a difference maker. The Raiders would still have to run the ball effectively and play solid defense to win. Garcia is a means to a six win season in Oakland and a four win season in 2010.

Right now, the only quarterback that can lead the Raiders is JaMarcus Russell. Certainly this makes many fans grind their teeth in anger. His performance this far has been nothing short of horrible. However, there simply is no option but to ride Russell and see what he can become. If he progresses, you might be talking differently about him at the end of the season. If he continues to regress, the Raiders may look elsewhere after the season.

NFL teams are a business. Businesses can't afford to give up on a major investment without giving it a long hard look. Patience is required when investing. Only when all the hope is gone do you cut losses and get out. Russell is a major investment that the Raiders must give a long hard look. It isn't like the investment isn't trying or doesn't have the resources. So give it a little time to mature. More than 19 starts and three into a new system.

Look at it this way. You have a two year old Corvette (Russell) in the garage. It has electrical problems, needs new tires and a tune-up. You purchased it for $50,000. Then there is a perfectly running used Cobalt (Garcia) available for about $5,000. It might get you to where you want to go, but it isn't going to do it fast. There is also a good chance it breaks down along the way and you have to ride the bike (Frye/Gradkowski) to work.

If you choose to drive the Cobalt, you are also going to have the Corvette crushed an melted. Best case scenario the Corvette sits in your garage and you have to do even more work on it to get it back into running order and you are still paying for it. Something you just can't afford.

There is also a chance you can never get the tire alignment right on the Corvette, it always has electrical problems and the tune-up doesn't improve the gas mileage. Aren't you willing to put in the work to see if those things can be fixed before you send the car to the scrap yard?

Wouldn't you want to keep working on the Corvette in hopes that someday it can win a race?

Russell must simply be given the time. The man has started 19 games in his career. There is a reason a poor quarterback draft selection can set a team back for five years. You need to give a guy a full two years starting and potentially a third to prove himself. Russell probably gets towards the shorter end of that time-line, but you never know what Al Davis is thinking.

After re-watching the game on Sunday, I realized Russell may be on the verge of a breakout. He completed 57 percent of his passes which is closer to his career numbers. He read the whole field and made good reads and showed that he had pocket presence. He only had two bad throws. One on the overthrow interception and the other a low pass no where near his intended receiver.

In my mind there are two ways to have a successful offense.

1) Run the ball to setup the pass. This requires the offensive line to consistently dominate the line of scrimmage and for backs to hit the holes and fight for extra yards. This opens up play action and other passing situations that can open up receivers for the quarterback.

2) The second is pass the ball to setup the run. This requires the line to consistently pass protect and give the quarterback time. The quarterback must completely understand coverages and the receivers also understand coverages and how to get open. Route running and quarterback accuracy is important. The run is able to be a surprise and against worn out defensive lines that have been rushing the passer all day.

The Raiders are undoubtedly an option 1 offense. When the Raiders were running the ball effectively against the Chargers in the first half of the Monday night game, Russell looked decent. Since that time the rush offense has struggled and so has Russell.

This isn't an excuse for Russell, he needs to be better regardless, but it is an example of the Raiders offensive state. Russell and his receivers have a long way to go before there is a chance for the offense to be an option 2. In my mind, Big Ben still operates an option 1 offense and has only periodically proven he can pass consistently.









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