JaMarcus Russell Falls: Raiders Rise

The news that broke on Monday concerning JaMarcus Russell‘s arrest for possession of codeine syrup is the bitter end of a tale of failure in Oakland.  Not just Russell’s failure, but the Raiders’ failure, as well.

Oakland hasn’t been any good since they lost to Tampa in the 2002 Super Bowl. It’s been a long downward spiral in the season since and things never seemed to get better.

The tide started to turn with JaMarcus Russell’s release, and I’m certain that the Oakland “brass” were very happy with their decision. They didn’t need any more bad press.

So, where did the tide turn exactly? How did the Raiders become a “decent” NFL team?  Simple, they started working again. The team became a democracy rather than a monarchy.

In a play on a familiar theme, JaMarcus Russell crashes and burns, but somewhere in there the Raiders rise from his ashes.

The Raiders Take Back Their Team

When the rumors started surfacing, I don’t think anybody disagreed. The Raiders needed to release JaMarcus Russell. Yes, he was a bust. However, those are a-dime-a-dozen.

Russell needed to be released because he represented something far greater than a bust. Russell represented the loss of the Raiders to their owner.

I know, I know, it sounds stupid to say a team got lost to their owner, but Al Davis is a maniac. He runs the team in such an erratic way that no one can predict his actions.

Davis has made many bad decisions in the past few years. Letting Jon Gruden go to the Bucs. Drafting players he doesn’t need — especially receivers.  Using high draft picks on the wrong guys — Darius Heyward-Bey.

Davis has made Oakland into a laughingstock by signing guys who have questionable character: See DeAngelo Hall. Every little “pick up” made the Raiders look more and more pathetic. Now, every time a guy does something stupid, the Raiders are his first rumored landing spot.

So, when the Raiders front office people convinced Al Davis to release JaMarcus Russell they had completed their conquest.  Al Davis had finally given in — completely — to their pleas.

However, JaMarcus Russell’s end was not the beginning. The Raiders’ front office had made an equally important move in April.

They Draft Well?

When the Raiders started the 2010 NFL Draft they had no prospects, no good press and seemingly no hope.  Somehow, the Raiders’ front office turned that around.

They drafted Rolando McClain — the stud linebacker out of Alabama — number 8 overall. In the second round they picked Lamarr Houston — the stud defensive tackle from Texas. Now, all of the pundits were starting to take notice of the Raiders.

In the third and fourth rounds, they chose “workman” offensive tackles — they had failed with Robert Gallery at OT in 2004 with the #2 pick overall.  Granted, Gallery is still a Raider, but he wasn’t worth the pick.

They took a slot receiver in the 4th round, then drafted defense, defense, defense, defense. They found young guys who can come in and learn from Richard Seymour — a proven winner in New England.

At the end of the draft everybody was hailing the Raiders as “reborn.” Tony Moss, of the Sports Network, said it best. “Raiders gave themselves a puncher’s chance in 2010 with the work they did at the Draft, but it could all come down to the two Campbells they acquired on Saturday.”

What Campbell?

Right after the draft everyone forgot about the wonderful draft the Raiders had. Why? The Redskins generously traded Campbell to the Raiders.  Now the Raiders have a “First Round QB”

So, what does Jason Campbell bring to the table?  Skills, work ethic, a demure personality and he is a good player. The addition of Jason Campbell to this offense means they will be able to move the ball efficiently.

Campbell brings new energy to the team and a new “hope” for future success. When your new starting quarterback is really happy to play for you — that’s a good thing!  Campbell said so himself:

“Had I stayed [in Washington], there was no guarantee I was going to be the backup. Now I have a chance to go play for a team that really wants me.”

It should be so much easier for the Raider offense to play with a guy who is happy to be there. Everyday Campbell is going to be talking to these guys about second chances and blessings — not how bad he wants to get out of town.

With Campbell comes a morale boost that will only serve to improve the performance of the whole team and bolster their good draft day. This team will hit the field with a new passion for the game in 2010.

Did Al Die?

Personally, I think Al Davis died in 2002 when the Raiders lost the Super Bowl. His little heart just couldn’t take it. Ever since they’ve been going “Weekend at Bernie’s” on us.  I’m not sure how they make him talk, but they’re good.

Somehow, the puppetmasters in Oakland were convinced that the “football guys” who work for the team actually know what they’re doing. “Total control” was replaced with “final decision.” The guys in the front office make a smart move and he approves it.

This is how successful teams work.

Now, I don’t wish any ill-will towards Al Davis, but I think we all have to admit that he’s been “losing it” for quite a while. I suspect that reasoning with him was like reasoning with a cat — impossible.

However, since he let JaMarcus Russell — his baby, in essence — walk away with a lot of money I think he sees how bad it was. Al Davis finally saw the light!

Al didn’t die — though I am entitled to my theory — but his stubborn-stupidity died. That was the thing keeping the Raiders in the “cellar” as opposed to the playoffs.

I don’t know about you, but I was afraid that the Raiders had died. I’m a 49ers fan, but I hate to see a proud franchise suffer like that. They’ve begun their rebirth and it looks promising!

Out of JaMarcus Russell’s ashes rose the “Phoenix” — a “Phoenix called the Oakland Raidahs!

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