Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 3, 2008
Young QB struggles

ALAMEDA - JaMarcus Russell is trying to hide the frustration, but it can't be easy.

He's lost consecutive games to rookie quarterbacks in Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan as the talk across the country grows about how the Raiders organization isn't fit for the development of a young quarterback.

Flacco and Ryan have both won five games as rookie starters and appear to have the infrastructure around them to grow into good pros.

Russell has had two head coaches and is 2-7 as a starter.

And the losses aren't easy to deal with.

"You go to looking ... 'What if? What could have been done differently?'" Russell said of yesterday's 24-0 loss to Atlanta. "It puts you in the mind frame of, everything is your fault. Basically, when it all falls down to it, everybody looks at the quarterback and the head coach. Whether you like it or not, it's going to fall back on those two guys."

It's not all Russell's fault.

Coaches would tell you he's done all that's been asked of him. There's just not much help around him.

While the team dealt it's second-round pick for DeAngelo Hall and had no third round pick (because of the 2007 trade for Mario Henderson), the Raiders missed out on the chance to draft one of the many young receivers that were in this year's draft.

The player drafted to help Russell, running back Darren McFadden, has been hurt most of the season.

But not putting the best team around Russell, it means he's not in position to develop properly and he'll have to make bad throws in an attempt to make plays.

And the running game that was supposed to protect Russell has disappeared lately.

With the likelihood Russell will have another head coach next year, the Raiders are setting up Russell for another rocky year with the instability that surrounds him.

At least Russell is trying to take command of the offense. On his 22-yard run, Russell improvised.

"I will admit I was the only one who knew that (I was keeping the ball)," Russell said. "I don't think the coach knew that. It was something we did, we put in. I noticed a guy was blitzing off that side. It was one of our weak runs. It's not good to (run at an) outside blitz so I took it upon myself and just tried something and made a play off of it."

If Russell is going to survive this season and not end up like Andrew Walter did after the 2006 season - needing surgery - he'll need to do a lot of thinking on the run.

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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