By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 at 11:07 pm in Oakland Raiders.
So this is what it has come to.
The great defender of JaMarcus Russell is none other than Tim (That’s not true!) Kawakami.
A completion percentage of 35.2 percent (19-for-54) would be reason to express at least concern for an high school quarterback, alarm for a NCAA Division I quarterback and outright panic for an NFL quarterback.
Yet here comes Tim, Mr. Stir-it-up himself, stressing patience with Russell. Could be one of those mind-trick things, although it’s more rooted in common sense.
The most telling comment from Russell during his weekly meeting with the local media Wednesday came when he was asked bout the progress of other young quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, and why he didn’t measure up.
“I wish those guys the very best in their careers,” Russell said. “But that’s really things I can’t control. That’s out of my league and I play for the Raiders, not for those other teams. Like I said, I wish those guys the best. I’m their fan, a fan of football. Other than that, I really don’t pay much attention to it.”
The key words being, I play for the Raiders, not for those other teams.
Reminded me of the movie “Vacation,” where Clark Griswold’s son Rusty says, “Why can’t we be like other families?” Clark, played by Chevy Chase, says, “Because we’re not like other families. We’re the Griswolds.”’
While his general tenor Wednesday appeared to deflect a lot of the blame elsewhere, the real truth is a lot of the blame should be deflected elsewhere until he proves one way or another he can be a quarterback who can lead his team to a championship. As a No. 1 overall pick, anything less is a disappointment, although lifetime security is a hell of a consolation prize.
Has Russell had anything approximating the environment a young quarterback needs to succeed? Not even close. In fact, you could make a case that if you wanted to sabatoge a No. 1 pick, the way to do do it would entail a contract impasse, two head coaches, having three play-callers in two years and giving him dicey protection and an support cast of young receivers.
Check, check, check and check.
Russell has played pretty well against the Broncos in the past, as was duly noted by first-year Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.
He’s pulled out of a tailspin once before and doesn’t seem overly concerned about the one he’s in now.
Am I surprised by the way he’s reverted to the scatter-armed quarterback I saw through much of the offseason? Sure, but no more so than Tom Cable, who conceded Monday he was surprised as well.
But with the season only two games old, it’s best to look at his won-loss record. Russell has one win, one loss.
That’s how they keep score, isn’t it?