“With the first pick in the NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select…JaMarcus Russell, quarterback from LSU.”
Many people believed in the 2007-2008 season that Russell would lead the Raiders and have a pretty good year. But Russell was in competition in the starting quarterback spot against three other quarterbacks.
There was Josh McCown, who did have some playing time in his career (mostly with Arizona), and he looked to lead the Raiders as well.
Also, there was Andrew Walter, who really didn’t have that much experience, who had some capability as well.
That season, Russell didn’t start even though he did sign a valuable deal: a six-year, $68M contract. But Russell got that contract when the NFL season started so he held out of training camp.
Many fans were outraged of the decision of Russell not starting. Rumors were saying that Oakland was about to bring in David Carr as well, who was the backup for the Carolina Panthers that year.
“That way we can really control what he is doing, play for this set amount of time for this many plays. He doesn’t have to have everything mastered,” Lane Kiffin said of Russell not starting.
That year, the Raiders had a little rotation of quarterbacks playing.
Josh McCown played okay with his ten touchdowns and eleven interceptions. Andrew Walter really didn’t do anything that year due to his three touchdowns and 13 interceptions the previous year.
But there was also another quarterback who came to help Oakland as well, and he was Daunte Culpepper. I didn’t want to mention him because I just wanted to test you guys out. Well, now that I did, let’s see how Culpepper did that year: he did the best out of all the quarterbacks on Oakland’s squad.
Culpepper had five touchdowns for five interceptions as well with a 78.0 quarterback rating, while all the other Raider quarterbacks had failed to even reach 69.5!
Russell barely did anything that year, having two touchdowns and four interceptions for a 55.9 quarterback rating. He also had thrown for 373 passing yards. After that season, many talks about JaMarcus were involving the word, “bust.”
That year, the Raiders selected Darren McFadden, a star running back from Arkansas who looked to be the next Adrian Peterson. McFadden, though, had to share the load with Justin Fargas and Michael Bush that year as well.
That year, the Raiders improved, but by only one game.
But it didn’t matter about the record the Raiders had that year. They were re-building, and JaMarcus Russell was improving.
Russell had a much better year than most experts expected, throwing for 2,423 yards along with 13 touchdown and only eight interceptions. He also had a 77.1 quarterback rating, much better than the 55.9 rating he had last year.
Russell also found some new targets for himself, having Johnnie Lee Higgins to throw to who was truly amazing last year. The Raiders also got a speedy wide receiver in Darrius Heyward-Bey. They also got a great tight end in Zach Miller.
With that being said, JaMarcus Russell has more targets, and a rushing attack the Arizona Cardinals could have died for last year. With Michael Bush, Darren McFadden, and Justin Fargas in the running back rotation, a rushing attack has literally formed.
And with Lorenzo Neal in as well, the rushing attack is now dangerous as Neal is famous for blocking for many 1,000 yard rushers. And also, if Javon Walker can perform this year, Russell can build a good tandem.
The Raiders also have two other receivers that I think may have big contributions to Oakland: Todd Watkins and Samie Parker.
This year, can JaMarcus Russell improve? Can he prove all the experts wrong that he is capable of being an elite quarterback? Can he prove that he is not a bust in what people call him?
I expect Russell to be at his best this year, and with that said, a playoff berth may be coming their way