Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Patience is a virtue...when it's deserved

In his recent piece by USA Today's Jarrett Bell, Al Davis talks with him about having patience with JaMarcus Russell.

As expected, TV experts have had a field day blasting Russell as unfit, even unprofessional. The criticism seems to be as embarrassing as it is frustrating for Davis.

Asked about Russell, Davis said he has to stick with him — for now.

Then Davis proceeded to offer up a history lesson, rattling off one detail after another. He mentioned Troy Aikman's 1989 rookie year, when the Cowboys were 1-15. He pointed out that Terry Bradshaw was benched for Joe Gilliam in 1974. He talked about the turbulence John Elway had early in his career. He flashed back to Ken Stabler's first five years, and recalled that Jim Plunkett was once considered a washout.

His theme? Patience.

The article goes on to mention that Davis has another call placed to Bell to tell him about more quarterbacks that were slow starters, including Montana, Steve Young and Dan Fouts.

And the logical fallacy Davis commits? None of those guys have been as absolutely, shockingly horrible as JaMarcus Russell has. Certainly not Montana and Young, who despite starting slower than they wound up playing much of their careers, still looked very respectable. But not even Plunkett or Bradshaw had looked as terrible as Russell, particularly given the handicap of not having the leniency which quarterbacks are given by today's passing rules.

Take away Russell's long TD to Zach Miller, if you will for a moment. He doesn't deserve most of it anyway. He threw it straight to Miller, who was wide open in a gaping defensive hole 20 yards down field. At which point the Eagle decided they'd rather have their afternoon tea than play football, allowing Miller to lumber down the field about another 50-60 yards for a score in what was one of the worst examples of defensive pursuit and tackling that I have ever witnessed. I like Louis Murphy a lot, but if he's blocking three guys on the way to the end zone, you as a defense are not doing your job.

Anyway, minus that TD...let's even call it a catch for 25 yards... Russell would be 17 of 28 for 163 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT. A whopping 47.2 rating. This would actually lift his QB rating on the season to 47.0 for the year. Thanks to the Eagles generously forgetting they were in Oakland, not London, Russell sits with a far more impressive 51.0 QB rating so far for the year.

But for all of Davis' wishing and hoping that all Russell needs is time, one has to wonder two things.
1) How much time exactly should a $60 million quarterback need to turn into something even serviceable?
2) How likely is he even to turn into something serviceable?

The answer to the first all depends on how much money you're willing to spend. Al Davis certainly throws it around like it's meaningless. But while he's busy giving $60MM to guys that in their third season look like they shouldn't be playing in Jr High, he's also costing himself significantly at the will call window, as fans are anything but excited to come catch a game at the stadium.

The answer to the second is more compelling, and not nearly as likely to provide an answer Davis will be happy with. I've watched three Raiders games now, and bits and pieces of others. This isn't simply a case of a quarterback that needs time to develop. It's certainly not a case of his supporting cast failing him...his backs are rushing okay, his receivers are often times WIDE open (likely a result of defenses stacking pretty much everyone in the box, knowing Russell has no hope of beating them deep), and his line, while not the best in the game, is performing adequately.

JaMarcus simply is not throwing the ball well in any way. The best thing that can be said about him is that his passes are often so far off the mark, the defenders don't have a chance to catch them without being caught well out of position. The passes he's completing now are mostly short throws. The past two games he's completed 60%+ of his passes. But taking out the YAC of that Miller TD, he's under 11 yards per completion, under 6.5 per attempt. A lot of this is due to the sloppy footwork and mechanics that we keep hearing about.

And JaMarcus Russell boasts one simple, fatal flaw that none of the other quarterbacks Al Davis mentioned seemed to suffer. He is lazy.

We're hearing and reading multiple statements that Russell isn't putting in the work needed to play at an elite level. He reported to camp overweight and out of shape, yet again. He's reportedly been fined multiple times for being late to or outright skipping meetings. It's been said that he's often the last one on and first one off the practice field. His own coach has said he's regressing.

And what is Russell's response to this? Well, he's shouldered some of the blame, admitting he's "Not where I want to be." But he's also taken to throwing his own teammates under the bus. "I know where the guys are going to be, but at the same time, once you look there, they're not quite there yet," Russell said.

Yes, patience is often a virtue. And yes, you should absolutely be patient with your quarterbacks to make sure they develop...even with the ones you pay $60 million. Not everyone will be a Dan Marino, or Matt Ryan, or even Joe Flacco, playing well out of the gate.

But the players must prove that they deserve that patience. They have to show the work ethic to make themselves better, rather than be lazy and seemingly feel adequate in underperforming. And until Russell begins to show those qualities, he doesn't deserve any of the patience Al Davis is giving him.


Post a Comment

About This Blog

Twitter: oblong_spheroid

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP