JaMarcus Russell shoulders the blame for the Oakland Raiders missing the playoffs, says coach Tom Cable.
In his most disparaging public remarks about JaMarcus Russell ever, Cable flat-out told reporters Monday that the Raiders would have been a playoff team this season if they'd gotten better play out of Russell.
A playoff team? Dude, you just lost by two touchdowns to Cleveland with another of your brilliant "Bench JaMarcus" schemes.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News asked Cable at a Monday press conference, "If the Raiders had gotten average to above-average quarterback play this year, do you think you'd be competing for a playoff spot right now?"
"Without even asking that question," Cable told the Mercury News, "You know we would have."
"You know we would have?" Can I get a Chris Tucker-style "And you know this!"
"It's a quarterback-driven league," Cable continued. "That's the bottom line. When you sit back and talk about what could've and should've . . . and all that kind of thing, you drive yourself crazy. The fact is, we've had some issues there."
Cable did at least include in his remarks the compliment, "JaMarcus Russell’s a really, really classy, classy kid."
But it's unfair for Cable to imply the only issues have been at quarterback. I don't know if Rich Gannon circa 2002 could have got this team to the playoffs. All three running backs have been banged up and inconsistent. With Chaz Schilens hurt half the season and the Darrius Hayward-Bey experiment yielding worse results than a meth lab explosion, Louis Murphy and Zach Miller have been the only consistent threats. That alone doesn't constitute a playoff offense.
The defense has had a few memorable moments, and a generally respectable season. Except for the five times that the Raiders lost by 23 points or more.
Listen, I enjoy teasing JaMarcus for his weight or laughing at his preference of partying at nightclubs in fur jackets rather than practicing football as much as anybody. But to say that Russell alone kept the Raiders from reaching the playoffs this season is kind of like saying that one package of Skittles is what put JaMarcus up to 300 pounds.
Okay, sorry for that last wise carck about Russell. After all, he is a really, really, classy, classy kid.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would certainly get beat up at JaMarcus Russell's VIP Tent at Mardi Gras 2010.