Rich Gannon on JaMarcus Russell

Raiders Russell FootballJaMarcus Russell of the Oakland Raiders is having a rough season in terms of accuracy. Former Raider quarterback Rich Gannon offered up an in-depth critique of the young signal caller. Gannon:

“There’s been so much talk. I’ve talked to personnel people around the league. I’ve talked to people who have been at the games and there’s a lot of concern right now about JaMarcus Russell and his accuracy, his completion percentage. So I went back and did a study. I looked at his 21 starts, he’s completing just over 51 percent of his passes. And then this season, you look at his first two weeks, he’s completing around 35 percent of his passes. That obviously is not very good. I just think he’s missing too many opportunities and he’s holding back this offense right now. So what I did was I broke down every pass attempt from the first two weeks.”

Gannon then explains what he’s seeing from a mechanical standpoint.

“A couple of things are very glaring. I think, you see a lot of times he falls away from throws. He seems to bail. I think a rush up inside bothers him. He needs to get more bend in his knees when he throws. He’s very upright and not a lot of bend in his knees. It may have something to do with his weight. He seems to be more comfortable operating out of shotgun than he does under center. He doesn’t do a very good job seeing out in front of throws and I think that comes with experience, really understanding and anticipating coverages. So that’s not something he does. When you look at the offensive game plan, the passing game, I think they’ve condensed the plan. It’s not very complicated. Fundamentally, right now, he is not very sound. His mechanics, his footwork, it’s inconsistent.”

“I think sometimes he predetermines where he’s going to go with the ball. You can see that he makes up his mind very early in his drop. And the other thing is he misses a number of throws, almost a majority of his throws if you go back and look at it, they’re high which tells you that more of that weight is not on the front foot, that he’s leaning back, he’s throwing off of his back foot. These are some things that really jump out at me.”

Before anyone says the Raiders should make Gannon their quarterbacks coach, Gannon gave a ringing endorsement to Raiders quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett.

“Let me say this in terms of the coaching. He may have the premier (QB) coach in the National Football League when it comes to footwork, when it comes to preparing a quarterback in terms of the mechanics. Paul Hackett was my QB coach in Kansas City and was one of the big reasons why I was able to go on and have success in Oakland. He is a phenomenal coach. He coached Joe Montana. He’s coached a lot of great players in this league. I know he’s got a good coach there in Paul Hackett, his quarterbacks coach, a guy that I have the utmost respect for, and I know these are not the types of things, when I look at (Russell’s) footwork, that he’s coaching.”

  • Tim

    Did anyone catch CBS comparing Tebow’s mechanics between 2009 and 2007? They picked out a clip where it looked exactly the same. Without getting into the whole Tebow/NFL nonsense, how easy is it to really change those mechanics? Chris I think I saw you write that some of it was teachable.

  • Tim,

    On the broadcast they mentioned that they had worked on his feet, which I agree is the most important part. You can definitely work on that. As far as his throwing motion, Darin Slack is really the guy to ask, but yeah I don’t think there’s a ton you can do. I have never really minded Tebow’s motion. It’s a bit of a wind-up but it’s not bad; the only time you absolutely must change things is when a guy drops the ball down from the “ready” position. Hunter Cantwell from Louisville last year did this and it was infuriating. But if a guy is taking it from shoulder/chest level straight back into a cocked position and then is following through, whatever motion he has tends to be his. From there footwork is more important.

    Again though Darin Slack is the QB guru, and has an excellent series on “self-correcting” QB techniques.

  • OURog

    You don’t need to be genius to know that Russell is a complete mess.

  • DT42


    I’ve noticed that Russell is accurate when throwing in the middle of the field, between the numbers. But on out patterns he alway throws them high. Various blogs reported that he was having this problem in training camp also. I thought it might be poor release point, poor hand placement on the ball or even that he was trying to throw the ball too hard. Any thoughts about why he would be fairly accurate inside the numbers but not outside them? Also, i think this is an outstanding site. I’ve learned a ton. Thanks for the info.

  • brandon

    Chris, speaking of Coach Slack, you may or may not know he would disagree with you about foot work. he always emphasizes that the arm is more important (the arm throws the ball not the feet) and that any QB can be taught to “self correct”. theres no excuse for continuing with bad mechanics, except for some coaches they dont have the time, knowledge, and/or desire to correct it

  • I do know he focuses on the arm. I still am a big footwork guy. If I had a knock on shotgun QBs it is that they have bad footwork. But Slack knows what he is talking about.

  • Just to be clear, I meant I was agreeing with you brandon that he might disagree with my focus on footwork. My response sounded overly harsh when I re-read it; you make a good point.

  • Homyrrh

    Yeah, footwork is critical for being accurate…but only relative to where your upper body, and especially your throwing arm motion, is going. A poor release, poor follow-through, etc. has given me a lot more accuracy woes than not getting my plant foot perpendicular or not executing a perfect shift of weight back-to-front. Throwing a short-mid in/out (basically anything under ~15 yards) without even going through your footwork is cake with some experienced mechanics and the requisite, intuitive timing, but regardless of how great your footwork may be, a QB oculdn’t hit a hitch if his release point is off or his wrist isn’t rotating.

    Also, Gannon’s completely right about leaning away from throws. It’s almost the natural thing to do if you’re not conciously stepping into throws and getting that torque along your shoulders/torso/hips.

  • Homyrrh

    But indeed, it’s hazardous to one’s mental well-being to watch a #1 pick perform so dreadfully awful. It cannot be a problem with hand-size or poor grip…at his size he’s pretty much hocking a softball. Gannon, again, is just plain correct: the guy just has painfully awful technique and it’s disappointing that some coach or coordinator somewhere didn’t tell Al Davis or whomever that a D-IA/FBS starter without a udimentary understanding of how to throw a football should be giving balls to officials, not throwing them to receivers.

  • stan

    If pitchers can correct their throwing motions, QBs can. We know that pitchers can fall into a variety of bad habits in terms of foot placement, arm angle, grip, release point, follow through, etc. Any one of these flaws can sometimes be the difference between a MLB all-star and a has-been sent back to the minors.

    Throwing a football accurately and powerfully requires a somewhat similar set of fundamentals — all of which can be improved/corrected.

  • CoachingHopeful

    Pitchers can correct their mechanics, but when they’re as “wild” as Russell has gotten, it’s a very, very tough road that few come back from. I wish him the best, but Hackett has to be drilling him every day on how to do it right and Russell just keeps regressing in every way. That’s not encouraging. The thing about Russell is that he’s got all the baggage that comes with a #1 pick (huge contract, hype, future of the franchise tied to him, etc.), so benching him won’t happen until the team has to concede failure.

    Maybe Al Davis can spring for a few thousand to fly Slack in during a bye week and teach him about the grip, wrist, elbow, shoulder, etc. The guy is a walking reference tool on how to throw a football properly! Even that won’t help the bad reads and lack of composure, though. I’ll never understand how so many highly paid NFL scouts can always drool fall in love with guys who only look the part of a stud football player, yet they keep doing it every year and their jobs are secure.

  • Dominic

    Ok let’s put all this hell is one hand basket!!!

    Defensive read: terribly slow, inaccurate and non-existent for the most part…I know this is the O-line and centers call most of the time for the line…but he never gets people in position on his own. This is why they have two in the backfield on either side of him. So he does not have to think…ummmm!!

    Command and/or knowledge of the offense: Looks like he is running a basic package that a fill in or last minute QB would run. This is not because of the line as it has given him plenty of time; this is due to his thought process and ability to make instinct decisions. I would think 3 years with this offense and he should have it down…ummmm!!!

    Leadership: He walks on the field slowly, walks to the huddle slowly…walks to the sideline slowly…talks slowly…i.e. he does a lot slowly and others will follow the body language of you’re so called on field leader…maybe too relaxed for a leader!

    Instinct: I don’t know where to start!!

    Throwing motion: Almost always out of position to make an accurate throw. He is so damn nervous, scared or unaware that he relies on his arm and not his feet. This is the pro’s come on now!

    Feet: 3 step drop, a little lazy and sloppy…Full drop timing is off, feet are out of position, never set when he throws, seems to want to roll on a full drop. Roll Out, please he cannot throw to the corners so why roll?!?!?

    Passing: See above and relate to this area…cant throw and out…over throws deep passes…throws in front of wide open crossing receivers…at 6’8″ should be able to throw a screen but has had many balls batted down…does ok on passes over the middle?!?!?!

    Question: does he have a depth perception problem?!?!?!?!

    Overall: Came into camp like a fat cat with a pocket full of money and a gut full of beer. With additional work they did in the off season I think he should have got better. Three games in his stats show he is the worst QB in football. Games 1 to 3 46, 47 and 22 passer rating…please… Is this what we pay for AL?

    I have been going to the games since I was a kid. I am 42 now and still sit in section 104 and honestly this is the first time I have said it and meant it…my ticket are up for sale and I am tired of paying the salary and the Raiders ticket…time for a change AL.

  • Dominic

    Hapless, hopeless, helpless, heartless and just plain horrible.

    Words alone cannot explain this team and its players…

    It starts right at the top and filters down through the QB and onto the field of play.

    Does anyone have the clout to tell Al…Tom…Jamarcus that they suck and it finally sinks in deep anough that they do something…hell anything?

    Rich…please put back on your uniform!!!

  • Frank

    Jets Fan here. I am so glad the Raiders have fallen on hard times, especially considering the pain I have been through for 2+ decades as a Jet fan. Considering the history the Jets and Raiders have I am reveling in your pain. Conversely – considering the history the Jets and the Raiders have, its a shame your franchise has gone down like this. Someone please get rid of Al Davis. Two of the founding AFL franchises (Buffalo) are slipping into obscurity because out of touch owners can’t let go. Its a shame that fans have to deal with this after being dedicated for so long. As a rival/comrade and founding AFL franchise fan, its only right to have the Raiders be a competitive team again. Good luck and I hope Oakland is relevant again in the near future.