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It’s Russell’s choice to be mentored

Tom Cable wasn’t afraid to use the term, and in fact he encouraged it.

Jeff Garcia was brought in to be a mentor to JaMarcus Russell, and not just a backup quarterback.

You have a mental image of the two poring over film together, utilizing salt and pepper shakers, and forks and knives as imaginary backfields at lunch when the team convenes at this week’s organized team activity.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Down deep, Garcia still wants to start. Russell realizes this, and a part of him may want to keep Garcia at arm’s length.

It’s a fact that young players don’t always want to be mentored, and that veteran players don’t always want to be mentors.

Look no further than the 2004 season, when the Raiders parted ways with two of the most productive wide receivers in NFL history, neither of whom were enamored with the thought of being a mentor.

When Norv Turner took over for Bill Callahan in 2004, it became obvious during training camp that Ronald Curry had to play. With the blessing of Al Davis, Turner gave Tim Brown a choice _ stick around as the fifth receiver and occasionally be inactive on game day, or accept his release.

Brown took the latter and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he essentially met the same fate.

During the season, Rice began coming out in certain formations and saw his production dwindle. On Sept. 19, Rice failed to catch a pass against Buffalo, snapping an NFL-record 274-game streak of games played with a reception.

Like Brown, Rice wanted no part of a smaller role and helping bring along players who were going to play more than he was. Davis later confirmed that Rice came to him to complain about the end of the streak and request a trade, which was eventually granted.

Not that the Raiders young receivers were all that interested about acquiring more knowledge, anyway. I remember one day in the Raiders locker room when Rice was out catching extra passes while Curry, Doug Gabriel and others were talking in the locker room.

Within earshot, and without being asked a question, Rich Gannon called over a few media members and wondered aloud how it is the Raiders could have the most productive receiver in NFL history and that the team’s young receivers weren’t out watching him.

“I mean, why wouldn’t you follow him around every moment, seeing how he does it?,” Gannon said.

Then there was Charles Woodson, who was afforded the opportunity as a rookie to play alongside Eric Allen, a veteran with an entire black book of strategies on every wide receiver he had ever faced.

Allen and Woodson were close friends. Allen used to joke his kids’ favorite player was C-Wood. He waited for Woodson to ask about the black book and how to play receivers, but the time never came.

I asked Woodson about it and he said he wasn’t comfortable loading up on information. He said he played better with a “blank slate” which allowed him to react and rely on his natural ability.

Contrast that with Nnamdi Asomugha, who as a rookie in 2003 immediately approached safety Rod Woodson and asked, “What do you have for me?.”

The point is, there is no guarantee Russell and Garcia will evolve into a mentor-student relationship. Which doesn’t mean Russell can’t learn simply from being pushed by him in practice and meeting rooms every day. On that basis alone, not to mention attrition at the quarterback position, Garcia’s signing was a good one.

The bulk of the knowledge Russell acquires won’t be from Garcia, but quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett.

“(Russell) has got a tremendous quarterbacks coach. No one talks about the addition of Paul Hackett,” Jon Gruden told Sirius Satellite Radio last week. “I think he’s really going to reach out and help JaMarcus Russell.”

The process continues this week, with Wednesday’s session open to the media.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Charlie Frye?!?! I’ve seen Charlie Frye, and he is no Danny Southwick!

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    There was a lot of good stuff in here last night, but this one takes the cake. I am certainly not the grammar police, but the irony of this one is undeniable!

    In his comment BHP claims that “”arguring” (I think he meant arguing) with someone about Russell is like “argueing” (again, I think he meant arguing) with a 25 year old who’s trying to learn to read and write.”

    He goes on to say “periferal” when I think he meant peripheral. And later on he got tripped up by that “arguement” word again…

    I guess what BHP was trying to say is that arguing about Russell is like arguing with himself; a person still trying to learn how to read and write! However, I doubt BHP is 25…more like 55 probably.
    _________________________________
    priesttj Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Arguring with someone about Russell is like argueing with a 25 year old who’s trying to learn to read and write. He should know learning to play QB at this level takes time but he refuses to acknowledge it. They think he should be a pro-bowler by now. They look at all the periferal stuff as evidence of his ineptitude. What he does on the field had little bearing on anything.
    So what you do then is move on. In Sept when the rubber meets the road we’ll see. All the ignorant talk will have to stop because the proof will be there for all to see. If he’s effective in the offense or if he struggles.
    IMO Russell has everything it takes to be one of the most dominant QB’s ever. Let’s see if I’m right. I’m sure those hoping he fails can wait to pounce, so you’ll get your chance. But so far as Oak and KK have said the evidence shows he improved dramatically late in the year. If he takes off from there and improves further it wont be long before he will one of the better QB’s in the league. So we’ll see…
    Just 2 months and it will all be on film……no need to continue the arguement. Just wait and see.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Charlie Frye? VICTORY!!!!!!

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Wow, I am glad to see that the Raiders’ PR department is hard at work calling Kiffin a liar and claiming he will destroy Tenn…but they remained almost silent while the media reported Russell weighed 300 + lbs prior to last season.

    What a crack PR department we have!

    Is the focus of the team on winning, or is it on revenge? Al Davis sold out the 2008 season to build a case against Kiffin for Al’s personal gratification at having on-upped the snotty kid. Unbelievable.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Isn’t Kiffin a liar?

  • OAKlifer

    Dakota Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 7:36 am
    There was a lot of good stuff in here last night, but this one takes the cake. I am certainly not the grammar police, but the irony of this one is undeniable!

    ______________________

    I have NO Room to talk I caint spall werth ah darn. But that was funny stuf.

  • NoMoreFargas

    This just in Lane Kiffin is not the Raiders head coach anymore so unless you’re an UT or SEC rival fan who gives a s*!t!

    Will Hulk Hogan be at tonights game not front row of course he can’t afford it maybe 10 rows back.
    GO RAIDERS!!!!
    GO LAKERS!!!!!

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    What is your point Bo?

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Well, the PR dept. seems to be sticking to the truth. Kiffin = liar. When the rumors were circulating that Jawalrus was approaching bovine proportions, the PR department could not truthfully deny it.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Also, the lawyers were writing the Kiffin statements. With Jamarcus’ weight, the coaches were probably the only one’s who knew the truth and didn’t realize the PR value in bending it.

  • SnB Defense

    I have some concerns…someone provide a response

    1. I am not sure the three running back system is going to work. Someone is going to be left with very, very few meaningfull carries. Probably Michael Bush is the odd man out. DMAC is a high draft pick and Justin Fargas is Tom Cable’s favorite player in the NFL.

    2. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Mike Mitchell will not make much of a contribution this year. The Raiders are bad at playing rookies for some reason. Also, DHB is going to have a hard time cracking the starting lineup. Chaz Schilens is taking big steps as a player and leader on the team. He’s fast, big and motivated to work hard. Javon Walker is a veteran, who if healthy, will probably be a better route runner/hands then DHB. Also, JLH is looking good.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Bo, I don’t think there was any way Russell was over 300 lbs prior to last season as the media claimed. The PR dept (Al and Herrera) could have dispelled the rumor and saved Russell much embarrassment. Instead they pretty much ignored it and let the damage be done.

    Why even have a “PR” department if they only focus on the revenge stories?

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    I love that Lane is taking his Dad down with him in Knoxville.

  • 4evaRaider

    Dakota I agree,good post 154:

    Revenge,the very nature of it is pure evil,imo.Lets hope the organization is bent on winning this season and not revenge

  • SnB Defense

    The Lane Kiffin discussion is pointless. Al Davis hired Lane Kiffin. Davis hired him. No one was pushing for his hire, no one had him as an elite coaching talent and he had no track record.

    So all this noise from the Raiders and media against Kiffin is pointless. The real issue is that Kiffin and Davis had a falling out once Davis wouldn’t let Kiffin fire Rob Ryan. Instead of manning up, Kiffin sulked and wanted out of Oakland when he realized he didn’t have control of his coaching staff.

    But Kiffin was a fool too. You know that in Oakland, Al Davis is a hands-on general manager. And Davis should have asked Kiffin during the interview if he was OK with the GM picking the staff and players.

    Enough already

  • MaddenRedneck

    Kiffin gets all the blame imo. He is the one that wanted to fight the boss instead of coach the team. The opening night debacle was not created by Al Davis. Thats why its still relevant. My question is are the Gannon coaching rumors true or fiction?

  • SnB Defense

    MaddenRedneck,

    No, Al Davis gets all the blame. He hired a head strong coach who wanted control of his coaching staff and significant input over the roster. Davis made a knee-jerk hiring decision when he realized that Sarkisian didn’t want the job and there was no other credible candidates in the field.

    So he just reached and took the young guy who was in the interview room with Sarkisian.

    Kiffin gets blame for not understanding the situation he was going in too. He knew Davis was hands on…yet he sulked and cried his way out when Davis’ management style became reality to him.

    Tom Cable is actually the type of coach that can succeed with Al Davis. A guy that can motivate the players, be a face to the media and manage the offense. All while working with Al Davis’ hands on management style.

  • MaddenRedneck

    Kiffin will get a rude awakening trying to run the football 80% of the time in the SEC because he has poor QB play.

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    Dakota says:
    Is the focus of the team on winning, or is it on revenge? Al Davis sold out the 2008 season to build a case against Kiffin for Al’s personal gratification at having on-upped the snotty kid. Unbelievable.

    Why even have a “PR” department if they only focus on the revenge stories?

    —————–
    Just replace Al Davis with the Republicans & we can say the same for your party. No answers but lots of attacks!! At least Davis is trying to answer whats going on with ideas.
    Besides since I’ve been rooting for the Raiders we didn’t have a PR dept. shouldn’t have one now just show the league our fingers & remind them of the “tuck bowl”!!!

  • MaddenRedneck

    The Raiders could care less what the media thinks and its rubbing off on the players, which is a good thing.

  • MaddenRedneck

    I disagree, I think Kiffin was the only sabatour in Oakland after Davis gave him a chance to coach the team with the players he asked for. When it started failing Davis wanted change and Kiffin started his back stabbing ways.

  • NoMoreFargas

    Mike Bush will be to good to keep of the field just watch fargas run into pile after pile not bothering to ever look up , Cable can love fargas all he wants but bush got him the job.

  • MaddenRedneck

    I think cable won the job when the last Kiffin turncoat went to Knoxville and he took over that man’s duties of coaching the offensive line. anyone could have ran all over the Bucs the way the line was blocking. Bush will get his chance if he keeps his attitude right.

  • MaddenRedneck

    Anyone got any more info on Gannon’s comments about helping Hackett coach Russell?

  • SnB Defense

    NoMoreFargas Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 8:38 am
    Mike Bush will be to good to keep of the field just watch fargas run into pile after pile not bothering to ever look up , Cable can love fargas all he wants but bush got him the job.
    =======================================================
    How do you see the carries breaking down with three running backs? Let’s say that the Raiders run the ball 30 – 35x a game. That will leave room for about 20 to 25 passing plays.

    So how will those 30 carries be split. You gotta figure DMAC is getting at least 50% of the carries. So that leaves 15 carries to split between Bush and Fargas. I don’t think Bush will be very effective just getting 8 to 10 carries a game. I say this because Fargas is going to get the ball.

  • MaddenRedneck

    The other new rumor is Gruden attending a Raiders practice sometime in the future.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Funny that there is no commentary today from Bobert Ignatowski. Why? I had him banned…

  • NoMoreFargas

    I don’ know if dmac will ever be a 20+ carry rb, I see him more about touches I would throw to him more than an other Raider he has the best hands line him up every where. 15+ carries for dmac, 10+bush and fargas can have the 1qt 5+. It is a hard think to balance 3 guys but Bush and Dmac can really catch the ball and that makes them so much more versatile than fargas. Of course dmac was terrible at picking up the blitz last year and thats were fargas outshines him .

    Of course who knows how thinks ever work out watch all 3 get hurt and rankin step up.

  • 4evaRaider

    Or maybe we could have Dmac also splitting time with JLH in the slot.Keep JLH doing 20-30 yard sprints then send in Dmac in slot with Fargas&Bush in backfield together.The safetys an LB’s would be dog-tired by the 4th,4sure

  • MaddenRedneck

    Its funny how the media bias plays out regarding the Raiders and Russell. He has been in Oakland working since the end of last season and left one time for a week to attend his uncle’s funeral, yet his work ethic is questioned because he was drafted by Al Davis.

  • SnB Defense

    NoMoreFargas,

    I guess we will see. I think Tom Cable is going to keep Fargas in the mix. That means about 10 carries a game. While DMAC can catch the ball, let’s not forget that he’s a running back first..not a receiver. DMAC is another RB that needs about 15+ CARRIES a game because of his ability to take any carry a long way.

    The Raiders should just focus the offense on DMAC and Bush…getting both players 15 to 20 rushes a game. That would be healthy for the year and ensure that those playmakers get enough carries to make a big play or two.

    I just don’t see Michael Bush being effective getting less than 15 carries a game.

  • MaddenRedneck

    Bush can throw out of the toss sweep and Fargas can’t. I think Fargas gets fazed out based on how much Bush and McFadden can grasp the playbook.

  • MaddenRedneck

    And if you think Davis has no input in the offensive side of the ball you have no watched Raider football for very long. After Kiffin left and Cable retooled the offense those plays were straight out of the 80′s Raider playbook using throws on outside runs, deep routes, dump offs, and play action. The new wrinkle is the cut blocking.

  • SnB Defense

    4evaRaider Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 8:57 am
    Or maybe we could have Dmac also splitting time with JLH in the slot.Keep JLH doing 20-30 yard sprints then send in Dmac in slot with Fargas&Bush in backfield together.The safetys an LB’s would be dog-tired by the 4th,4sure
    =======================================================
    DMAC should be good for 3 to 4 catches a game. Remember, the passing game is supposed to be more of a threat this year…especially if Schilens continues progressing and if DHB is a top 10 overall pick…you would think they would like to see him get at least 40 or 50 catches this year. Not to mention a healthy Javon Walker and JLH.

    The Raiders have a good problem to have. A lot of potential playmakers…key on potential….that can make plays. My concern is that Cable gets the ball to the playmaking guys and not run an overally conservative bland offense that features Justin Fargas.

    Because that’s what happened last year

  • OAKlifer

    Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 8:50 am
    Funny that there is no commentary today from Bobert Ignatowski. Why? I had him banned…

    ___________________
    Ignatowski!!!LOL @ booby bob…come to think of it hadnt seen him since yester day when he was bad mouthing Jerry!!! and me and you and Double R come to think of it slobo dorko was on a war path yester day hope hes gone…(even tho he is mildly amussing!!!)

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    lol at RaiderTW…one track mind?

  • SnB Defense

    MaddenRedneck Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 9:12 am
    And if you think Davis has no input in the offensive side of the ball you have no watched Raider football for very long. After Kiffin left and Cable retooled the offense those plays were straight out of the 80’s Raider playbook using throws on outside runs, deep routes, dump offs, and play action. The new wrinkle is the cut blocking.
    =======================================================
    There is less input on the offensive side. He let Kiffin and Gruden run the WCO, He let Art Shell hire the B&B guy. Norv Turner ran his offense…just had no talent…Meanwhile the defensive scheme has stayed static for a long time.

  • MaddenRedneck

    I agree he lets the coach call the plays and sometimes allowed them to used the WCO if the personnel merits it but I am happy they are forcing the verticle stretch which will open up the horizontal passing game they like to call the WCO.

  • MaddenRedneck

    In 2000 when they lost to Baltimore the only way they could have beaten them was by throwing deeper routes but the receivers were way to slow. Same thing happened in the Superbowl. Then the defenses just shut the run down because they know your receivers can’t get deep quick enough to avoid the pass rush.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    We could have beaten Baltimore in 2000 had our QB not been knocked out of the game.

  • SnB Defense

    MaddenRedneck,

    I am all for the vertical vs. horizontal attack. My concern is Tom Cable’s playcalling and personnel choices. As explosive as all these guys can be, it won’t matter for much if they aren’t getting catches/carries.

    For example, DHB, Louis Murphy and Michael Bush should see a lot of time this year. My guess is that Javon Walker and Justin Fargas will be taking up more of the time. Now, maybe those two just had off years last season. Maybe Fargas gets back to a 4.4 or 4.5 per carry average and learns to catch…maybe Walker’s knee was an issue last year. We will see I guess…I hope we are not in here later this fall complaining about Bush only getting 4 or 5 carries and DHB sitting on the bench.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    I wonder what kind of “mentor” Gannon was for Tuiasosopo. Empirical evidence would suggest he was odious. The list of great players who were also productive mentors is stunningly short, methinks.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Vertical this and WCO that…blah, blah, blah…whatever happened to Just Win Baby?

    I don’t care what offense we run or who the real defensive coordinator is, or who our GM is as long as we win some friggin games.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Derrick Brook’s helmet was a great mentor for Gannon’s broadcasting career…

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Michael Bush was a great mentor for Gruden’s broadcasting career…

  • NoMoreFargas

    Hard to argue we win with gannon in 2000 that 3rd&long 98 yrd td by sharpe was the game , man do i hate dorsett and pope.

    Dorsett,Pope,Gibson,scwiegert,Huff I dare any other team to match that garbage at 1 pos .

  • nader64

    “First-year receivers coach Sanjay Lal has made position meetings more “family-friendly,” rearranging chairs from classroom-setting rows to a round table.

    “Coach Sanjay lets us comment on whether that’s a catch or if it was a good play or not,” Heyward-Bey said. “If guys are staggered around, it’s like you are all just kind of looking around and back and you can’t get into it. At a round table, it’s more like a conference; everyone’s into it.”

    I for one like this. You can say it’s not a big deal, but I’m looking for positives and this is one. I wonder if the reports of Javon “coaching” the young WRs has anything to do w/ Lal…?

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Bo, why would Gannon mentor Tui? Gannon was at the top of his game when he was here…he had plenty to do getting ready to take the Raiders on SB runs. He didn’t have time to play mentor to some worthless QB. Maybe if Gannon’s career hadn’t suddenly ended and instead he took the long, windy road of playing backup in the league for a few years to prolong his career, maybe then he would have put his mentoring hat on.

    While Gannon was winning an MVP and winning tons of games, I have to give him a pass on not mentoring Tui. If Tui didn’t just sit back and follow Gannon’s lead by observing and copying his work ethic and attitude, well that is on Tui, not on Gannon IMO.

    Same goes for any great player…I think you are right about them not being great mentors…they are too busy playing and winning, and trying to maintain a certain level of competitiveness. The players that make great mentors are the ones that sat the bench for the first couple of years and then got some playing time in which they played okay, and then sat the bench again (Dilfer)…giving them multiple perspectives on the game and time to think about what it really takes to play and how to pass that info on.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Winding road, not windy road, lol.

  • SnB Defense

    The players mentoring younger players is overrated for sure. The coaches are the ones charged with getting the player skilled up and ready to go. The most a veteran can do for a younger player is be a good example and/or provide some competition.

    A veteran isn’t going to breakdown throwing mechanics any better than the coaches. In fact, the coaches are probably more qualified in that regard. Coaches are the ones that will teach the player how to break down film and the coaches are the ones that set expectations.

    A veteran like Garcia can only help by providing a good example and giving little tips here and there. But Garcia is not going to be the guy coaching up Russell on playing the position. AGain, maybe a hint or two.

    Coaches mean a ton more than this veteran mentorship stuff. This isn’t carpentry here.