Friday, May 07, 2010

Time to move on

-- So I was going to talk about the NFC North as the start of a series on how the various divisions might pan out this coming season. The main motivation for this was due to a lack of news. But now I must put that on hold for a day or two, as the Raiders have continued their superb off season by releasing JaMarcus Russell. It's not just the almost $6 million in salary they'll save (they'll still owe him around $3 million), it's the indication that the winds of change are now blowing through the organisation. The Raiders are starting to look like one of those teenagers who holds steadfast to his anti-establishment views all the way through college and his twenties, bemoaning the effect of "corporate America", only to hit his thirties and suddenly mature, understanding that those faceless corporations provide large numbers of jobs for people and promote wealth for the nation as a whole. The Raiders have grown up. They seemed to have realised that physical skills are great for developing talents, but for high round picks you want proven players, guys who have a solid base of work to fall back on. They're starting to understand that winning in the NFL is about building a solid team as opposed to just collecting talent. Coach Tom Cable appears to have been given more of a free reign to get on and coach the team, and the Raiders might just reap the rewards in the coming season or two. As for Russell? His attitude and work ethic has been appalling throughout his career so far, but there is hope. Having had his financial prop pulled suddenly from under him, maybe Russell will sit up and take notice. Let's not forget as well that he's hardly been surrounded by top class talent in Oakland. And, like many others, Russell has been thrust straight into the action from day one with little time to adjust and without a guiding hand of an experienced QB to show him how it's done. We can only hope, for Russells' sake, that he uses this wake up call to good effect. Maybe now he will put his head down and start working. If he wants to get picked up anytime soon, he needs to get his butt on an exercise bike and start peddling as if his career depends on it (because it does). If he can do that and he's prepared to take a huge salary cut (we're talking in the minimum salary region) in order to sit behind an established QB to learn and work hard, then maybe JaMarcus can rescue a career that currently looks set to go down in NFL history as one of the worst draft busts of all time.

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