There is no sugarcoating the struggles of quarterback JaMarcus Russell through two games. Passing game coordinator Ted Tollner has seen enough bad to know when it rears its head.
At the same time, Tollner also has been around long enough to know that what Russell is experiencing is just part of the life of an NFL quarterback.
"Almost all of them have periods of it," Tollner said Thursday. "Ours just happens to be lower than the low that any of us want."
Russell has completed a league-worst 35.2 percent of his 54 passes so far, including a 7-for-24 effort against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday. He is at or near the bottom of every statistical category.
Tollner and coach Tom Cable point to a multitude of factors conspiring against Russell: footwork, timing, young receivers, dropped passes and so forth.
Yet, there have been many occasions when it's all on Russell, Tollner said.
"When guys are open, you've got to hit 'em, whether your footwork is right or not," Tollner said. "We've all seen the unorthodox guy off balance, make a great play and throw it accurate, and his footwork is all out of whack."
Tollner said quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett spent inordinate amount of time in the offseason working with Russell on his footwork. There has been progress, just not as much as hoped for.
On the bright side, Russell has played well enough when it counted most to put the Raiders in position to win both games.
Tollner calls that a "big plus" and something for Russell to build upon the rest of the season.
"I feel he's doing fine, honestly," wide receiver Louis Murphy said. "We've had some dropped balls; nobody's mentioned any of the dropped balls. Nobody's mentioned the wrong routes. JaMarcus, he's taking a lot of (flak), a lot of criticism for our lack of play, too, as receivers, running backs, the entire offense."
Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon was a stickler for detail during his NFL career. He spent countless hours studying videotape, learning the playbook and honing his mechanics. He said all of Russell's flaws are fixable.
Gannon said he broke down every one of Oakland's offensive plays from this season. In doing so, he discovered a litany of things Russell is doing wrong.
"He falls away from throws," Gannon said in an interview with SIRIUS radio Thursday. "He seems to bail. A rush up inside bothers him. He needs to get more bend in his knees when he throws. 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 that comes with experience, really understanding and anticipating coverages."
Tollner said Russell is working hard, is aware of his flaws and wants to succeed in the worst way. Both are confident that this is just a "bump" in the road.
"I'm not where I want to be," Russell said, "and I won't be there until quite some time. There's always things to work on, as a quarterback or as a player. (The Chiefs game) wasn't a good game, but I'm not too mad about that. I'll take the blame for that. As long as I know what's going on. I know what I need to do and that's that."
Tollner has coached the likes of Jim Kelly, Steve Young and Jeff Garcia. He said it takes younger players a little while longer to snap out of funks and get into a rhythm.
"We need him to come out of it right now, his part of it, and then the rest of it around has to, also," Tollner said. "I don't want to sit here and say it's a one-man deal, because that's wrong."