Did Russell ditch Raiders for Las Vegas?

Beat writer David White of the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting “someone using the name JaMarcus Russell checked into The Palms in Las Vegas” the day after Russell was excused from a team meeting for “personal reasons.”

White notes that this could potentially save Tom Cable’s job in Oakland.

Russell is believed to be the major sticking point between Cable, who benched Russell after nine games, and Davis, who preaches patience for his prized No. 1 overall draft pick.

Russell has been criticized by Cable publicly, and teammates privately, for not working hard enough off the field. The reason reporters knew about Russell’s absence Monday was because of a tip from a teammate in the locker room who couldn’t hide his disgust.

Cable can take Russell’s Vegas-over-team trip to show Davis the extent of his disconnect from the rest of the team. Maybe Davis will see Cable handled Russell the right way all along, that his struggles were about more than Xs and Os.

That, or Davis says about Russell what he said about Randy Moss in September — that the Raiders failed him. If that’s his stance, then yeah, Cable is gone.

If Davis choices Russell over Cable it would be a colossal mistake. Russell will never live up to his lofty expectations because he’s not prepared to put in the work. Furthermore, he doesn’t have the overall talent. (It takes more than a strong arm to be a quarterback in the NFL, which he has proven time and time again.)

If this rumor/report (not sure what to call it) is true, then Russell should be released immediately. I don’t know how much proof Davis needs to unload that gigantic bust. That said, maybe Russell really did have a “personal” issue to attend to, so we’ll just have to wait and see if more details emerge.

I don’t want to make Cable out to be Vince Lombardi, but he proved this season that he’s capable of winning games. With Russell on the bench, the Raiders showed promise down the stretch and actually fought hard under Cable. He wasn’t Oakland’s biggest problem this season and deserves a shot to see what he can do without worrying about Russell infecting the team with his horrible play.

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Report: Tom Cable likely to be fired

According to the San Jose Mercury News, “all signs point to” the Raiders firing Tom Cable this offseason.

In the Raiders’ case, that means parting ways with coach Tom Cable and hitching their floundering franchise to another coach who has a fresh set of ideas and the patience to put up with quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

Managing general partner Al Davis has yet to weigh in publicly on the matter.

However, several people close to Davis say he is inclined to fire Cable and hire a new coach for the sixth time since Jon Gruden was jettisoned after the 2001 season.

When asked if he is expecting to be the coach next season, Cable said: “I am, because I see, and you all see, too, where this team is going, and what we’ve been able to accomplish in proving some things.

If Davis fires Cable and keeps Russell, that would be yet another horrendous decision in a long line of horrendous decisions by Al Davis. I’m not necessarily suggesting that Cable should be retained, but what has Russell shown in four years that would make Davis (or any owner, coach or water boy for that matter) want to keep him? Russell is absolutely abysmal and shows zero signs of ever becoming a professional quarterback.

At the very least, Cable should be credited for benching Russell and having a little success with castaways like Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye. The Raiders were actually competitive with Gradkowski and Frye under center, not so much with the biggest bust in NFL history. Personally, that merits Cable keeping his job for at least another year. He’s not the Raiders’ biggest problem – Davis is, with a little aid from Russell.

We’ll see if Cable is inevitably gets the boot, although if I were a Raider fan I’d currently have that horrible, Al-Davis-is-about-to-screw-us feeling in the pit of my stomach.

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