Coming from the category of here we go again, the Oakland Raiders are reportedly expecting JaMarcus Russell to win the starting job in 2010 and that he will be able to shake off the disappointment that has plagued his career to this point.
Earlier this offseason, head coach Tom Cable had declared that it would be an open competition at quarterback, and the Raider Nation had this sinking feeling that "open competition" meant another year of JaMarcus Russell. Now, there are reports that those fears were valid.Fanhouse.com quotes an unnamed Oakland Raiders executive, "There has been such a lack of confidence in this team as a whole. The intangibles need to be rebuilt. It's awful. The great teams go out there and know they will win; the good teams think they can, the average teams hope they can and the bottom ones hope they don't lose too badly. I don't think it's bottom now for us. But we have to develop an attitude, a belief as a team and organization of winning thinking and preparation. That has to come from JaMarcus and from his position. It's his job to lose. He is aware of that."
The reports are that new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has had to go to Alabama to meet with Russell and his close family to rebuild trust. The organization continues to coddle their failed draft pick. The need to have an assistant coach travel to meet with him and his family like he was a high school prospect being recruited by a college program is indicative of his lack of leadership. A fourth year professional quarterback should have the maturity to be able to work with a new coach.
Russell has brought his issues upon himself with his own work ethic issues, as well as his own lack of leadership. He doesn't have the faith of his own teammates as a leader. In a very telling moment at the close of last season, wide receiver Chaz Schilens was asked about the difference between Charlie Frye who had started the game, and Russell who came in during halftime. His demeanor changed, and he flatly replied "No comment."
He was greatly outplayed by both Charlie Frye and Bruce Gradkowski after his benching last season. He does not deserve to have the job as his to lose. However, the team still coddles for him. He skipped out of the final team meeting of the 2009 season to go to Vegas, and the team covered for him. The team said that he was reporting with significant weight loss, but his weight has been reported at 10 to 20 pounds over his listed weight. He was benched during week nine after having a historically inept season, and now the team is throwing their support behind him winning the starting position.
If JaMarcus Russell is handed the starting position, the Raiders may want to follow the lead of their Coliseum roommates and tarp off the third deck so it doesn't look like there are as many empty seats. The combination of historically low attendance and boos every time Russell took the field did not get the idea across the complete dissatisfaction of the Raider Nation with the former number one pick. They are fed up with the losing, and the fact that Russell has shown absolutely nothing to indicate that he even cares about being a successful quarterback in the NFL.