I was on my knees and praying when there were 40 seconds left on the clock. I was praying that the Oakland Raiders, despite their limitations would be able to pull out a win today! I was praying that JaMarcus Russell would find someone open and win the ball game for us, and he did. Finding Chaz Schillens on a crossing route and hitting him in perfect stride for 6.
By listening to the player interviews afterward and also taking into account what I saw today, JaMarcus is still 3rd String, behing Gradkowski and Frye, BUT, today he earned the game ball and he should be proud of his teammates for helping him out on the last drive and also proud of himself.
What I saw:
JaMarcus was being stone walled by his teammates when he entered the game. It was as if they could not believe he was actually entering the game and the man who'd brought them up the hill all day was sitting on the bench because someone missed a blitzer and you could see it in everybodies eyes and even's one's body.
After having a penalty on his first play from scrimmage, he then, shortly thereafter, burned a time-out. On his way to the sideline, Louis Murphy gave him a shoulder bump as he jogged past. This was the sort of bump that could be incidental, or it could be a message. A message that Louis did not like being blamed for JaMarcus' short comings and he was sick of him screwing up the offense, by wasting, yet, another time-out because he couldn't get the play right.
As everyone, even the announcers on CBS, could see...The Raiders were doomed. They looked like they were going to lose and it was because JaMarcus Russell was in the game.
After buring the time-out, JaMarcus, as has been his NFL custom, underthrew a wide open Louis Murphy on 3rd down, missing a play that would have put the Raiders, who were down 3 points, into Field Goal range.
The next time he got the ball, the team was down by 6 points and on third down he threw a low pass to Michael Bush, that Bush should have caught, but it was dropped. Once again, the television announcer, said exactly what the rest of Raider Nation was thinking. He thought that if Frye or Gradkowski threw that pass, Bush would have caught it.
Raider Nation, after that possession things looked bleak. It was going to be the Redskin game all over again. The starter goes down and JaMarcus comes in, out of shape, wearing his bling, without warming up and gets sacked 6 times as the defense finally folds.
I mean, how many of you were surprised that on the final drive JaMarcus was acked for -13 yards and fumbled the ball? My guess is NOBODY.
Then something magical began to happen. After getting bailed out of a 2nd and 23 from his own 25, by a passing interference call,JaMarcus Russell began stepping up in the pocket. He also got rid of some balls out of bounds when his guys weren't open. But, most importantly, he threw most of his passes on a direct line to the tightest places possible and his receivers made plays.
He did throw a pass behind Johnnie Lee Higgins that Johnnie made a nice defensive play on, but when he came back in from an injury and hit Tony Stewart on 4th and 10 for a first down, I actually sat up and said, "You can do this JaMarcus"!
For the final 2 plus minutes of this game, JaMarcus made us all fans again. We were not booing him, we were cheering for him. And when
When he completed his final pass, on the TD, to Chaz Schillens, he looked like a young man who was humble. Even as some of the other players started goofing with him, he just shook head and pointed upward, as if to give the credit to something, or someone, much greater than he.
That is a great start for him, in his maturation process, now maybe he can graduate to the level where he appreciates those around him.
What Players said:
Chaz Schillens - "Charlie Frye had us prepared for this game. He came out and kept up on the script"
Michael Bush - "If you are booing a young player on your team, you need to not come to the game"
I like the fact that Bruce was working with Cable on play calling at the end of the game and that Charlie Frye is taking control of the offense throughout the week. Honestly, Cable needs the help, and he listens. Kudos to those three for working together.
As to Michael Bush's comments, I don't think that he understands that we are the paying customers, and if we don't like the product on the field, it is our right to boo. And yes, Michael, JaMarcus deserved the boos. Being a player in the NFL is not too unlike being a Rock Star in that they are always performing and rarely get a chance to be fans, so there is a disconnect.