Can Hue Jackson save JaMarcus?

Now that Hue Jackson is in Oakland as the team’s offensive coordinator, the real question can be asked: Can the new play caller make something out of JaMarcus Russell?

Actually, can he save the former No. 1 overall pick from being labeled as one of the biggest busts in recent memory?

The NFP’s Aaron Wilson caught up with Raiders head coach — for now — Tom Cable on the sidelines in Mobile, Ala., Tuesday to ask about Jackson. Cable, whose future is still uncertain when it comes to the 2010 season, said, “I think it’s a good decision by the organization. It’s someone that I’m familiar with. It’s someone that I think can help us take the next step, so we’re all pretty excited about it.”

Cable and Jackson worked together at Cal in the past, and now the two will be working together again and trying to figure out a way to get something — anything — out of Russell.

I was with Hue in 2003 when he was part of coach Steve Spurrier’s staff in Washington. I respect him a lot, and I think he does an excellent job teaching and relating to his players. I mention that as a plus because it isn’t often you see pro coaches relating to pro players in the business setting of the NFL.

Hue is one of those guys, and I think the Raiders got one of the best young play callers out there. Lovie Smith and the Bears wanted a chance to interview Jackson as well.

But the real action here is Russell. Can Jackson make progress with Russell? And when I say “progress,” I mean can Jackson break him down — and build him up again? Russell needs to be taught and coached like a pro. The days of allowing this guy to develop are over. That talk needs to go in the trash. This business is all about winning. Cable knows it and so does Jackson, whose job now rests in the hands of Russell.

Because this job is only secure when you win, and in the case of the Raiders, when Russell starts producing.

Owner Al Davis is not going to let Russell walk with the bags of money he has already been paid. But when you talk to anyone in the league about the Raiders QB, it’s always with some hesitation and plenty of questions. Can he be a true pro? Can he prepare to win? Can he get his body ready for camp?

Folks, these aren’t even questions about what he has to do on Sundays once he’s on the field. And that is why this job is so big for Jackson. He must teach Russell to be a pro — not an easy job.

As Cable told Wilson, “I think we’ve gotten to that level of competitiveness that it takes.”

I agree with that, and I also think the Raiders can win like the Jets and the Ravens. They play good defense, and they can run the ball down opponents’ throats.

But someone has to figure out the quarterback position, and with the eyes of the owner on you, Russell better be ready to play.

Can Jackson do it?

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