Tom Martinez knows better. He knows that an arm does not make a quarterback. He knows that Tom Brady, his most famous protégé, won three Super Bowls because he respects the finer points of the job. And he knows that a quarterback should never, ever be asked to roll to one side of the field and then throw to the other. It's inefficient, mechanically unsound, such a scandalous misuse of momentum that a 10th-grade physics student would flag the play.
Yes, this is all quite accurate.
But Martinez couldn't help himself. JaMarcus Russell's arm is that seductive.
Once again, JaMarcus Russell's arm inspires the ignorance of all general football laws. That is a really special arm that's about to lead him to a Grossman-esque career.
When it came time to create a list of plays for Russell to run in front of dozens of NFL scouts and executives last month, Martinez went with the taboo as their grand finale. Russell rolled right, and his receiver broke that way, too, before switching direction.
"JaMarcus threw it 70 yards and completed it," Martinez said. "It was unbelievable, unbelievable. You could hear this "Ahhhh" coming from all the NFL people."
Read that quote again. Now I want you to tell me that Tom Martinez is not just another fanboy.
He wore a mischievous grin when he described the play, still exhilarated that Russell could do something so wrong so right. In his 32 years as a coach at the College of San Mateo and endless summers tutoring quarterbacks at football camps, Martinez has worked with some of the biggest names in the business -- John Elway, future Heisman winner Gino Torretta, USC's Rob Johnson and Brady, who attended his first Martinez camp at age 13 and still calls on him for help with his mechanics. New Englanders view Martinez as something of a wizard.
Torretta and Johnson. If Russell could only be that good...
But the coach has never seen anyone quite like the 21-year-old favorite to become the No. 1 pick in this month's NFL draft or done anything like the prep work that he performed for Russell.
Remember when Kyle Boller took a knee on the 50 yard line and consistnetly threw balls though the uprights, wowing everyone there with his arm strength. I mean, it seemed at the time that taking a player based solely on physical skills was foolish. Then we saw it all play out for Kyle Boller. So what's going to be the excuse when Russell is predictably average. He was in Oakland? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Scouts have learned that it is foolish to project a QB to the NFL based on the variable of Arm Strength. Yet, they seem to be unable to control their hormones every time a guy like Russell roles around. Who's paying these guys. Quotes like these should be grounds for dismissal so you don't continue to make the same mistakes year after year.
At Athletes' Performance, a specialized training camp in Tempe, Ariz., Martinez joined a team grooming Russell to take his place atop the draft. The chief competition, Brady Quinn of Notre Dame, is more polished and experienced than Russell, with four years as a college starter as opposed to two, yet he showed up in Tempe for some buffing of his own.
YES!! YES!! Four years of college compared to two. THIS IS WHAT MATTERS. This is it. Build on this point. This is the only reason that Brady Quinn will be a better NFL QB then Jamarcus Russell. Gwen Knapp, please oh please don't let throw this point out here without comparing Russell to other first round picks who started less than 30 games in college, and Quinn to other guys who started 45 plus. Just do it, I beg you!
Russell's size makes him both alluring and unnerving, creating doubts about his agility. He can probably absorb a hit very well, but will he lumber around in the pocket, unable to keep up with the speed of the NFL game? At 6-foot-6, he looks more like a tight end than a quarterback, and he reportedly carried as much as 265 pounds when he led LSU past Quinn's Irish in the Sugar Bowl. His fitness advisers in Arizona peeled close to 10 pounds off him, revealing a sleeker model. Martinez immediately went to work on Russell's feet.
GAAHHHHHH!!! NOOOO. Ah, the AGONY!!
I hate bad sportswriting.
In fact, he wanted to put all of Russell's presumed weaknesses on display. Agents create scripts for these events, and they are usually written to obscure areas of doubt. Martinez reasoned that the scouts and coaches would eventually, in private workouts, ask Russell to perform drills that emphasized perceived shortcomings. He wanted the script to answer the big questions, to assure the scouts that Russell had nothing to hide.
Did Martinez find the Denver Broncos' defense and put them out there against the Oakland Raiders offense plus Russell at QB and let JaMarucus strut his stuff. If he didn't do this, I'm really not sure how much of his weaknesses were really on display. JaMarcus' weakness is his inexperience, just like any other QB who has ever come out early. By the time he gets to a point where he makes up the gap between himself and Quinn's college experience, he's probably already going to be a backup somewhere in this league. He's never going to catch Quinn in experience unless Quinn sustaines a multiple year injury.
When you really think about it, making a guy with 2 years of college experience your NFL Quarterback is really no different than a fortune 500 corporation giving a high ranking managerial job to a person who left school half way through his/her college degree to "go pro". I mean, it very well could work out for you. But you try to tell me that the same person would NOT be a more efficent worker if he/she stayed and finished his/her degree.
Now tell me that Russell will be better than Quinn.
By coming out early, Russell already put the sentence on his NFL Career. I'm guessing sometime in his first 4 seasons, he will post a respectable set of numbers, and a bunch of talking heads will talk about how JaMarcus Russell has "arrived". The next year those numbers will completely regress and the only person the mediots won't blame for the regression is Russell himself.
I guess it can be debated if Russell goes number one overall whether or not it was worth it to come out. On one hand, he could have been a bona fide stud QB had he stayed in college another year and produced. On the other, he likely would not be the No. 1 pick in a draft that includes Brian Brohm. Then again, he shouldn't be the No. 1 pick in a draft that involves Quinn, but Brohm could be even better than Quinn.
The Raiders, current owners of the top pick, recently invited Martinez for what was reported to be an interview to become the team's quarterbacks coach. Martinez read it more as "a chance to exchange information," and he filled them in on what he had learned about Russell.
If the Raiders took the opinion of a guy with a clear interest in the matter with any more than a grain of salt, there is no hope for them as an organzation.
Russell's soft-spoken personality? "He's very quiet, very respectful," Martinez said, "He doesn't say much, but he's always taking things in. You can see him sizing things up and figuring people out."
Russell's background? Martinez believes that any NFL executive who meets with Russell's relatives will gain confidence in the decision to draft him. "He has a very grounded family," Martinez said. "They're all squared away. They're not buying into the fanfare around this."
Now, Gwen Knapp, you've discarded all analysis to turn this into a puff piece. Congratulations.
The other information he would like to impart would apply to any 21-year-old. Russell needs stability, continuity on the coaching staff. Martinez once heard Jim Plunkett describe a harrowing period in his career when the quarterbacks coach changed four times in four years. He doesn't want one of the most prodigious talents the game has ever seen to be squandered.
Because Jim Plunkett's career ended just so horribly unfufilled.
Martinez has seen all of Russell's flaws up close, and he still finds himself amazed. He says that Russell, fulfilling a typical scout's request, can stand flat-footed at the goal line and, without moving his body for the necessary torque, throw a ball 77 yards downfield.
That's nothing. Did I tell you about the time that Kyle Boller threw a ball really far from his knees. Russell ain't got nothing on Boller.
He can also sit at the opponent's 40-yard line and throw a ball through the uprights of the goalpost. Cal's Kyle Boller once asserted that he could throw the same pass from the 50 while on his knees. But Russell does it on his backside, relying entirely on his arm. Martinez fondly calls this maneuver "the butt throw."
Shit. This is the most unbelieveable paragraph in professional sportswriting. You are comparing (correctly) JaMarcus Russell to Kyle Boller in a puff piece. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW RETARDED THAT IS! How can you make this comparision and NOT REALIZE THAT KYLE BOLLER IS A HORRIBLE QUARTERBACK!!
Martinez is a technical wizard, so he probably shouldn't be so impressed. But he can't help himself. Two weeks as JaMarcus Russell's coach turned him into a fanboy.
Okay, so in reality the article says "fan", not "fanboy". I just thought it rolled off the tounge better this way.