Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson
Oakland coach Tom Cable said after Sunday’s game that JaMarcus Russell will remain Oakland’s starter and he will play next Sunday at San Diego despite being benched in the second quarter against the Jets.
That’s understandable, because the Raiders want the 2007 No. 1 overall draft pick to succeed. But the decision Sunday to sit Russell can’t be underscored. It shows Oakland is willing to bench Russell if it has to. Cable indicated that Russell was out of sorts Sunday.
Russell was taken out after he was intercepted twice and he lost a fumble. Russell struggled for virtually all of the first six weeks of the season. Still, Oakland was reluctant to yank him.
Had his backup, Bruce Gradkowski, played better Sunday, perhaps Cable wouldn’t have been so quick to decide to put Russell back in next week. Gradkowski showed some spunk, but the journeyman backup couldn’t lead Oakland to a score, either.
If Oakland, 2-5, was playing better as a team, perhaps the Raiders would stick with Gradkowski or even try to reunite with Jeff Garcia (whose return is unlikely after he recently criticized the team). But it doesn’t seem like the Raiders are going anywhere. Yes, there are more problems than just Russell.
The team gave up more than 300 yards rushing to the Jets. Sandwiched between Oakland’s 13-9 win over Philadelphia last week was four defeats by a total of 134-16. Sunday’s loss was the worst loss in Oakland’s home history. Defensive end Richard Seymour, who earlier in the week predicted the Raiders would make the playoffs this season, said Sunday they couldn’t beat an Oakland high school team.
All can’t be pinned on Russell.
He needs to be given more time (I’d say the rest of this season) before Oakland decides it has to pull the plug on him for good. Still, it appears that Russell is headed toward being a failure. Sunday’s move sure smacked of a preview of the future in Oakland: The Raiders playing with a quarterback other than Russell.