First thing's first.......
Let's go back to Sunday, but I'm not even going to go over the stats. (If you want to relive those again or missed the game or numerous press rippings, you can take a look for yourself.) The team was, in one word, HORRIBLE.
Good. Now that's out of the way, let's start with the quarterback.
I'll admit I was advocating patience and waiting to see how JaMarcus Russell developed (you can see my first ever post for proof). I'll also admit that was before I saw him play as bad as he has the past couple games. There appeared to be some sort of light at the end of the tunnel for him in the first couple weeks of the season, but, now, I'm not so sure.
I'm also getting tired of the excuses and blaming his play on the holdout, receivers, O-line, etc. We all see that there are some soft spots. What I'm questioning is Russell's leadership (he is one of the offensive captains), confidence and ability to process the game and what's happening. I'll account for different personalities, but something has to change. He sits on the end of the bench after drives. His body language shows lack of confidence. He rarely is seen talking to the rest of his offensive teammates or trying to get them motivated. Personally, those things aren't leaders do.
People, pundits, whomever, talk about the greats having "it." Now, admittedly, I have no idea what the hell "it" even is, but I will say this.....You knew "it" when you watched Young, Montana, Stabler, Aikman, Kelly, Staubach and company. You know "it" when you watch Brady and Manning. You knew you didn't see "it" when you watched Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Heath Shuler, Tim Couch, Cade McNown, Todd Marinovich (AHEM!!!!!) and...you get what I'm trying to say. When I watch, I'm not seeing "it" from Russell. Now, that's not saying he will never get "it," but I'm skeptical now. The guy sure has all the physical skills that one could possibly have. But is the leadership and moxy there? Right now, I'd have to answer that with a, "No."
I'll liken it to a story I heard on sports talk radio one afternoon. The host was invited to an NFL event with some current players. Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers were both there. The host explained that Alex Smith was very timid, very reserved. His handshake wasn't strong and he spent most of the time off to the side talking to only one or two people at a time. Rodgers, on the other hand, had a firm handshake and drew people to him. He commanded respect and commanded the room. He had a personality of strength and leadership that people took to. Now we see how Rodgers' and Smith's careers have gone in opposite directions, even though Smith was the higher draft pick.
I'm getting tired of the excuses people are making for Russell. If he is as great as people think he is, he'll pick himself and the rest of the team up by the chin strap and make the best out of a bad situation, work hard to improve himself and the team and learn and soak up what it takes to play the game and run the offense.
With Russell, I also question the mental aspect of the game. Can he process the defense? Can he maintain and remember and entire playbook for the week, plus hot routes, plus audibles, etc.? Based on what I heard from people that were close to the team when I was out in Oakland, the playbook is drastically limited for him. That can't happen. That's makes the offense predictable and too easy to defend because teams know what's coming or just plain don't care because we can't execute a pass play.
Let's not forget the standings in the AFC West, either. Currently they are as follows:
San Diego 3-5
Kansas City 1-7
What's that have to do with anything, you ask? Chew on this.....The Raiders beat the Ravens and the Falcons (two very beatable teams, mind you) and we're tied for the division lead! I guess the best part is, even at 2-6 we're not out of it. We just have to stop losing!
Something needs to change on offense and change fast. We can still win the division! This whole, "we prepare like a Super Bowl team during the week" junk is getting old. To me, that means we have a team full of practice players. Let's see Michael Bush get on the field more. Here's some blasphemy coming your way, so get your delicate eyes ready.......let's see Andrew Walter get a shot! GASP! That's right, I said it. What's it going to hurt? Are we going to lose a game? Trent Dilfer and some others on ESPN will say it's not the fans' choice how teams use their players and develop them. I disagree. We're the ones that buy the tickets, pay the parking, buy the merchandise, buy the concessions, buy the Sunday Ticket to watch the team when we live in Ohio. If we want a change, our concerns should at least be heard.
I couldn't even think of a title for this, hence the lazy '[Untitled].' I know that what's going on with the Raiders is frustrating and so puzzling, it's like nothing I've ever seen as a fan. Is it the owner, the coaching staff, the players, the quarterback, injuries? We can clearly see that the quarterback is not good, right now. Let's hope that's temporary and let's hope the coaching staff gets things together and management can bring some cultural stability and get the team back on track.
I'll be getting all over DeAngelo Hall being released (I'm kind of bummed I can't rip his play now) and whatever else may come between Wednesday night and Thursday night in tomorrow night's post. It is the Oakland Raiders, after all, so stay tuned. It'll probably be very interesting.