With my colleague Paul Gutierrez looking back at Doug Williams and his Super Bowl win 20 years ago, why not take a look at the quarterbacks the Raiders have returning.
There’s JaMarcus Russell, the starter and future of the franchise.
Al Davis loves him. He was the first pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Even after signing with the Raiders after camp, he played enough at the end of the season to show there are good things to come.
And there’s Andrew Walter, who desperately would love an opportunity to play elsewhere after being labeled the quarterback of the future, then seeing that future obliterated in a stagnant offense and behind a shoddy offensive line.
Before looking at Russell, I’ll look at the turn Walter’s turn has taken with the Raiders.
He’s now in the Marques Tuiasosopo Zone. It’s when you’re a young quarterback for the Raiders, you don’t fit the scheme the coach wants to run, but the team is holding on to you even do want to trade for you.
Walter unfairly took the brunt of the disastrous 2006 season. From Al Davis intimating he should have drafted Matt Leinart in 2006 to watching Russell arrive, there isn’t much Walter can do except bide his time.
He wanted to be traded before last October’s trading deadline. But Josh McCown was injured at the time and Lane Kiffin wasn’t comfortable with making JaMarcus Russell the backup with only about a month with the team.
Walter does have trade value. If the Raiders resign McCown or bring in another veteran, dealing Walter wouldn’t’ be out of the question assuming the team finds a young quarterback in the draft it can use as it’s third quarterback.
With the Raiders have already dealt two draft picks and with many holes to fill, dealing Walter for second-day draft pick (fourth, fifth round?) might not be a bad idea.
As for Russell, the Raiders are his team. Teammates like him and it didn’t take long for players to see why the Raiders did last April.
This offseason will be critical as it will be used to make up for time lost during his contract stalemate that kept him unsigned until Week 2.
It was hard to gauge exactly what to expect from Russell because of his limited playing time. That was until his 32-yard touchdown pass to Jerry Porter in season finale that showed off his mobility and strong arm.
The key will be if Kiffin’s offense will be opened up enough to allow Russell to make plays downfield and if the Raiders surround him with enough talent to make those plays.
Of the other two quarterbacks, McCown is most likely return, assuming there are no major coaching changes.
McCown likes playing for Kiffin and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. Kiffin trusts him, which is also important.
He’d come back understanding he’s the backup and has already developed a good and supportive relationship with Russell.
Daunte Culpepper was only expected to be around for a year. He still wants to be a starting quarterback and showed enough to prove he can still play.
Heading into the 2008 season he’ll be almost three years removed from the knee injury that ended his time in Minnesota and he’ll go out looking for a team he can start for.
Culpepper’s biggest impact on the season won’t be the role he had in three of the Raiders wins, but the influence he had on Russell.
After all, 2007 was all about getting Russell ready. Even though that process was delayed, it's his time.