New Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson won't save JaMarcus Russell's Raiders career. No coach, assistant or muse can do that. Only Russell can.
It won't happen, anyhow. No disrespect to Jackson, but he can't be coming to the Raiders simply to hold Russell's hand. Jackson must coordinate one of the league's most feeble offenses, one that Russell wanted no part of this past season.
Here is your word of the day: Fun. We all like to have fun. Jackson thinks coaching Russell will be just that. But Russell and fun can't coexist, not with his career in such serious demise.
"This guy was the first player drafted. It's going to be fun to see if we can get him up and playing the way we all wish that he can perform," Jackson told ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "It's not just about JaMarcus. The quarterback takes on a whole life by itself but it's the team, the whole offensive unit (that) has to perform well around the quarterback."
He's absolutely right about that. Russell would agree, so much so that he's previously blamed that lack of a supporting cast for hampering his career.
It will take so much more than changing coordinators — Russell's third in the past three seasons — to change him. Russell likely thinks it will take a bevy of Pro Bowl offensive linemen, a veteran receiving corps and a supportive fan base.
Of course, the Raiders offer none of that. Russell knows this (see: his "personally, I don't think it's me" retort after his benching in the Jets shutout defeat.)
Russell has said he won't take a pay cut from his slated base salary of approximately $10 million. Do you really think Jackson's hiring changes Russell's mindset? Perhaps Russell will survey the NFL landscape and realize he'll get more money with the Raiders (even at a reduced salary) than anywhere else and indeed return.
The most frightening development Tuesday is that Jackson is so positive in regards to The Russell Project. So much for hyping up Bruce Gradkowski, who won over the locker room in a way that Russell never will.
Gradkowski has been present at the Raiders facility in the past week. The only postseason sightings of Russell were, (a) at the Palms in Las Vegas a day after he skipped the team's final meeting, and, (b) in an Alabama report on him being appointed Mobile's Mardi Gras king.
He's living the dream. And he is the Raiders' ongoing nightmare.
Saying that Russell will be a "fun" endeavor only will boost Russell's sense of entitlement, that his new coordinator thinks so highly of him when few in the league do.
Russell won't be as fun as Joe Flacco was for Jackson, previously the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback coach.
As for the mysterious state of coach Tom Cable, who knows? Maybe Al Davis is still building a case to fire him and figures there is no time limit now that Jackson is on board.
For a minute, it almost seemed like the Raiders conceded that Cable is returning for 2010. In the two-paragraph release announcing Jackson's hiring, the last line read: "Jackson and Coach Cable previously worked together on two college staffs — as assistants at Cal State Fullerton in 1990 and at the University of California in 1996."
Coach Cable? Hey, learn something new every day.
Russell has lots to learn. Jackson can't teach him all of it.
Welcome to hell, Hue.