Cable says Russell understands move
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- There was a bit of a disconnect between coach and quarterback following the latest blowout loss for the Oakland Raiders.
Coach Tom Cable said he needed to make a quarterback change because JaMarcus Russell was "out of sorts" in a three-turnover performance. Russell's response: "Actually I wasn't."
Cable said any possible confusion over the decision was ironed out when he met with Russell on Monday to go over the film from the 38-0 loss to the New York Jets and start planning for this week's game at San Diego.
"I think today in talking with him he's pretty clear on what went on," Cable said. "It's just something that you have to have a little bit better control. It's not something that you like to do, in terms of pulling him and all that. I've been pretty strong against it. I want to push him to give him every opportunity to succeed, but now looking at the tape it's pretty clear what went on."
It was an awful day right from the start. On the first play from scrimmage, Russell put his team in the wrong formation. Calvin Pace then beat right tackle Khalif Barnes and sacked Russell, forcing a fumble that gave the Jets the ball at the Oakland 4 to set up the first touchdown.
"You wouldn't expect to have that kind of mental error on the first play of the game," Cable said.
After a three-and-out the next drive, Russell went back to throw on the third possession and was pressured by David Harris. He threw a ball that was close only to safety Jim Leonhard, who returned it to the Oakland 4 to set up New York's second touchdown.
"There wasn't anybody there to throw the ball to," Cable said.
The next time the Raiders got the ball, they drove down to the Jets 33 before Russell threw a first-down pass into the end zone for Todd Watkins. Russell described the pass as having a "50-50" chance to be caught, but Cable said the pass was behind Watkins, allowing Darrelle Revis to make the interception.
"When you see it on film it's pretty obvious that would have been a tough play for Superman," Cable said. "You've got to give him a ball that he can catch over the middle of the field. He had him beat, which was a great move by Todd Watkins."
Russell lasted one more series before being replaced by Bruce Gradkowski, who also couldn't lead the Raiders to any points. Russell finished 6 for 11 for 61 yards with the three turnovers.
For the season, he has completed just 46.3 percent of his passes, with two touchdowns, eight interceptions and five lost fumbles. His 47.2 rating is ahead of only Cleveland's Derek Anderson as he has taken a decided step backward in his development in his third season.
After barely playing because of a holdout his rookie season, Russell struggled early before showing some positive signs late last season. That has almost been entirely erased by his play this year.
Russell did not talk to the media Monday, but said after the game there were many factors beyond his control that went into his struggles early in his career.
"I don't think it's me personally, I really don't," he said. "It's a bad combination of one guy doesn't do something right one time."
Cable says Russell remains his starter despite the benching and the hope around the Raiders is the brief demotion will serve as a motivating factor for Russell this week against the Chargers.
"Hopefully it will fire him up so then it doesn't happen again, that he'll work that much harder and really put in all the effort that he can to make sure that doesn't happen again," tight end Zach Miller said. "Any competitor should want that to never happen. I would never want to be benched. I don't think he would either."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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