It took 10 weeks before the Raiders finally decided it was time to bench JaMarcus Russell in favor of a new quarterback. If you saw last week’s game against the Chiefs, you’ll know it doesn’t matter who’s throwing passes for Oakland because the receivers can’t catch them anyways. Regardless, the Raiders have decided to go with Bruce Gradkowski as their starter on Sunday either as an attempt to jump-start their offense or light a fire under JaMarcus’ ass, or both. When asked about what Gradkowski offers the team, running back Justin Fargas seemed to take a subtle shot at Russell when describing Gradkowski’s strong points:
“A passion for the game. A love for the game that he shows in the way he plays, the way he calls plays. The way he works on details of plays with players, in between. He’s just uh, I think that’s the main thing I’m seeing with him. It’s just, he’s a get-after-it type of guy.”
“You want to make a play for your quarterback but when he shows that type of passion for the game, obviously guys are going to feed off it and try to give him that same effort.”
If you read between the lines of the comments it’s easy to see that he’s talking about something the players want to do for Bruce that they weren’t inspired to do by their previous quarterback. That’s constantly been a knock against Russell — he’s just not motivated and driven to succeed, that he lacks the passion to be great. While Fargas’ comment doesn’t excuse the receivers from dropping half of Russell’s passes last week, it’s undeniable that JaMarcus isn’t getting the most out of his teammates. Now if we’re talking about Darrius Heyward-Bey, the guy’s equal opportunity; he’ll drop a Gradkowski pass the same way he would a JaMarcus toss.