When Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Texas' Colt McCoy worked out for scouts, McCarthy watched intently. At the Scouting Combine, he talked wistfully about getting a chance to coach Tim Tebow. He turned Aaron Rodgers into a Pro Bowler, just like he did with Steve Bono, of all people. He worked with Rich Gannon, who went from 40 touchdowns and 36 interceptions pre-McCarthy to 137 touchdowns, 61 interceptions and future MVP with McCarthy and post-McCarthy. Aaron Brooks' best years came with McCarthy as offensive coordinator. In the season before McCarthy was hired, Brett Favre threw 29 interceptions and the critics were howling for him to retire.
The Oakland Raiders cut JaMarcus Russell on Thursday and he cleared waivers on Friday. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 draft, Russell won just seven games and, according to the abacus of the Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer, earned more than $110,000 per completion.
Rather than get better, Russell got worse — pushing Tony Mandarich out of the conversation as biggest draft bust in NFL history. Thanks mostly to a protracted holdout, Russell started only one game as a rookie. He showed some progress in 2008, with 53.8 percent accuracy with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 15 starts. However, in a league in which 60 percent accuracy is barely good enough, Russell completed a preposterously low 48.8 percent of his passes last year. In nine starts, he threw three touchdown passes against 11 interceptions. Oakland went 2-7 in his nine starts and 3-4 without him.
Julie Jacobson/AP Images
Even with all that radioactivity, why not take a chance?
Presumably, Russell will come cheap. Goodness knows that no team would throw starter's money at him. Not now.
To be sure, the Packers would have to see if Russell has been humbled and is ready to try to fulfill his massive potential. If not, then forget it.
If the answer is yes, then Green Bay would be a great fit.
First, there's the aforementioned quarterback-coaching acumen of McCarthy. His no-nonsense approach is just what Russell needs after wallowing in the rudderless Al Davis-Lane Kiffin-Tom Cable regime for three years.
Second, the Packers' legendary youngest-team-in-the-NFL status notwithstanding, Green Bay's locker room wouldn't put up with any nonsense. Rodgers is a workaholic, and Charles Woodson, Al Harris and Donald Driver are among the wise old pros who would make sure Russell would do things the right way.
Third, Green Bay could use a developmental quarterback. Rodgers and Matt Flynn are entrenched as the top quarterbacks, but based solely on upside (emphasis on those last three words), Russell offers a lot more than Chris Pizzotti. Who knows, if things work out, maybe the Packers could land an extra midround draft pick in 2011 or 2012.
A few years ago, the Packers passed on a chance to get Randy Moss, who was a malcontent and underachiever with a lousy work ethic in Oakland. Freed from the NFL's Dumpster, Moss turned back into the Hall of Famer he was with Minnesota. To suggest that a Hall of Famer lurks within Russell is preposterous. But rescued from the cesspool that is Oakland, maybe Russell would see what it means to be a professional and show that he's a guy who's more than a $39 million arm with a two-cent brain and heart.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.