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Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable talks to quarterback Charlie Frye (3) during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2009, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
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Before he started airing his grievances, Tom Cable wanted us to know that he loves JaMarcus Russell. Of course.

Why would anyone ever suspect otherwise?

"JaMarcus Russell's a really, really classy, classy kid," Cable said Monday.

And yet . . . Cable yanked Russell from the Raiders' starting lineup six weeks ago and reaffirmed Monday that Charlie Frye, not Russell, will start Sunday's season finale against Baltimore.

Unsaid but obvious: Cable is all but done with the hesitant, listless, scatter-gun Russell, and Cable doesn't care who knows it.

Frye is the guy Cable believes gives him the best chance to win Sunday. Russell is the guy who gave the Raiders little chance to win in many previous Sundays.

"Would we all like it to have been a one-year wonder?" Cable said of Russell. "Sure we would. But this is not him, this is not where it's at."

Yes, the Raiders coach has finally started to acknowledge that he believes Russell's play was the largest reason the team stunk this season.

On Monday, the message was not subtle or spoken through gritted teeth. It was just a coach communicating what he really felt.

I asked Cable: 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 said with a tight grin, "you know we would have."

That's about as blatantly as a Raiders coach can point the finger at one of Al's super-talent, hand-picked, high-paid, low-production favorites.

Failed season? No more explanation needed than Russell's 49.6 passer rating, 47.8 completion percentage, stunning immobility, and stumbling performance.

Hard to argue much with Cable's logic, since the Raiders were 2-7 in Russell's starts this season and so far they're 3-3 in games Bruce Gradkowski and Frye have started.

This, of course, comes as Cable's coaching tenure marches toward the normal Al chopping point, when it probably feels good for the coach to let off some pent-up frustration.

Biggest grievance: Getting stuck with Russell for more than half the season. The Raiders coach is never actually in control of that, and that's yet another grievance.

"It's a quarterback-driven league," Cable said. "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 and we've dealt with it in the best way, we think, for our team. And other parts of this team have improved around it and gotten better."

But the larger point is that Davis almost certainly doesn't agree with Cable, who doubles as the team's offensive coordinator.

And if Cable is hoping to make this a public choice between Russell and Cable, Davis' 100 percent history is to go with the player, then try to find a better coach.

The Raiders aren't typically fond of finding a middle ground, but there is one here: Russell and Cable have failed each other.

Russell is out of shape, slouches through Raiders HQ, shows no leadership ability and generally acts like he's entitled to a job that he never earned.

But Cable and his staff are the grown-ups here. They're supposed to reach Russell either with amazing teaching technique or tough love or great schemes or whatever it took.

Nothing worked. And Cable doesn't want the blame. Tom, how did you do this year coaching the QBs?

"I think at times an exceptional job and at times an average job," Cable said.

Imagine how poorly Russell would have played if Cable wasn't doing such an exceptional job with him!

Obviously, if the Raiders are going to be fixed, they have to fix the QB position. Well, they have to fix the coaching situation, the front-office situation and maybe the owner situation, too, but I don't have 10 columns today.

Just this one.

During the news conference, Cable again mentioned the choices that all players have to make, and implied that Russell has to make better ones.

What kind of choices, Tom?

"We'd be here forever to discuss all those things," Cable said.

JaMarcus, Al and the rest of us might be here forever. But I don't think Cable will be.

Yeah, I think Cable will feel more relaxed once he's separated from the Raiders and Russell. We know it, without even asking the question.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5442.