OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 15: JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders looks on against the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 15, 2009 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** JaMarcus Russell
Russell is one of 20 free agents who will work out with the Redskins during the team's bye, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Twitter. He is also one of the biggest NFL draft busts in history, according to both NFL.com and the Huffington Post.
Russell raises eyebrows not merely because he failed to produce for the Oakland Raiders, mustering a 7-18 record as a starter before the team released him in May. Nor does the problem end simply with his arrest this summer for possession of cough syrup with codeine, otherwise known as purple drank.
For the Washington Redskins, the problem has less to do with what's happening in the pocket and more to do with what's going on inside head coach Mike Shanahan's head.
In a decision that has had a dramatic impact on Redskins fans' collective psyche, Shanahan benched starting quarterback Donovan McNabb in Sunday's game against Detroit with just minutes remaining. Rex Grossman, who took the helm and his first snap of the 2010 season, immediately fumbled the ball -- costing the 'Skins their chance at reclaiming the lead.
Shanahan defended his decision by saying that Grossman was more familiar with the terminology of the two-minute drill. But later, Shanahan clarified that he thought McNabb wasn't physically up to leading a quick-fire offense -- and further that he had considered not starting McNabb at all.
Shanahan said that the Redskins had not practiced the two-minute drill in five weeks -- a fact that, in itself, ought to give 'Skins fans pause. Especially given how many of their wins have come in the final plays of the game.
Grant Paulsen, Redskins reporter for 106.7 The Fan, reported on Twitter that McNabb and Grossman invited 'Skins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan out for a beer summit. Apparently, Shanahan declined the invite.
Should McNabb and Grossman pull up another stool for Russell?
The New Orleans Saints and the Cincinnati Bengals have both passed on Russell, with the Bengals describing him as a "project player." Washington would be the first team to give him a serious look since he was cut from the Raiders.
Whether Mike Shanahan is up to the task of turning around Russell's game is anybody's guess. Before he does that, he might succeed in something even more improbable: Turning Albert Haynesworth into a sympathetic figure.