4 Oakland Raiders

Back in Silver and Black, Art Shell is cracking the whip, and the Hall of Fame tackle is starting with the offensive line
September 03, 2006

THE BELIEF
Art Shell, who played 15 seasons with the Raiders and coached them from 1989through '94, returns to the helm to yank this once proud club out of thedoldrums brought on by three straight losing seasons. He can handle the demandsof overbearing owner Al Davis and lay down the law for underachievingplayers.

THE REALITY
Shell's most valuable commodity is his credibility. His players talk about hisno-nonsense approach and the respect he still commands following a Hall of Famecareer at tackle. He's also more hands-on than predecessor Norv Turner. "Ifwe're doing a drill incorrectly, Art will stop the drill and point out exactlywhat everybody should be doing," says Pro Bowl defensive end DerrickBurgess. "That never happened last season. The coaches would see a problemand say they'd deal with it later, but it would never get fixed. Art handlesthings immediately."

It may seem oddto hear a player laud Shell for such a simple thing, but that's how bad it hadgotten in Oakland. The team needs to be whipped into shape. Turner may havebeen too soft, but Shell doesn't hesitate to get in a player's face.

When widereceiver Jerry Porter clashed with the coach last February over Porter's desireto do his off-season conditioning in Florida, the incident ended with Shellbooting Porter out of his office. Porter demanded a trade, leaving his statuswith the Raiders uncertain. The 59-year-old Shell has been just as assertive inhis dealings with the rest of team. "When I got here, I saw that all theseguys needed was some direction," he says. "They were looking forsomebody to tell them what they needed to do to win again. I basically toldthem that I had high expectations for them and that they needed to have highexpectations for themselves."

Of all theshortcomings Oakland has on both sides of the ball-last year the club led theNFL with 147 penalties and ranked 27th in defense-reviving the offense will beShell's biggest challenge. The Raiders are counting on free-agent quarterbackAaron Brooks to avoid the mistake-prone play that cost him his job in NewOrleans. A less complicated game plan, built around a power running game, willease the pressure on Brooks.

Another key tothe offensive transformation will be the play of a revamped line. RobertGallery moves from right to left tackle. Barry Sims slides from left tackle toguard. Langston Walker moves from left guard to right tackle. Rookie PaulMcQuistan, a left tackle at Weber State, is slated to start at right guard.Center Jake Grove, the one player in the same position as last year, injuredhis shoulder in camp and may miss the opener. In addition to the hard workneeded to quickly become a cohesive unit, the linemen will be charged withmaking most of the protection calls, instead of the quarterback. Walker saysthe assignment adds pressure, but Shell likes the idea of Brooks having moretime to focus on the play that's been sent in. "We want [Brooks] to know hedoesn't have to do it all by himself," Shell says. "When I watched filmof him in New Orleans, that's what usually got him in trouble."

Shell, afterall, knows a thing or two about line play, and the players believe in him."There used to be a time when teams were afraid to play us," saysfullback Zack Crockett. "With Art here, I think we can get back to thatplace."

2006SCHEDULE

SEPTEMBER

11 SAN DIEGO(M)

17 atBaltimore

24 Bye

OCTOBER

1 CLEVELAND

8 at SanFrancisco

15 at Denver

22 ARIZONA

29PITTSBURGH

NOVEMBER

6 at Seattle(M)

12 DENVER

19 at KansasCity

26 at SanDiego

DECEMBER

3 HOUSTON

10 atCincinnati

17 ST. LOUIS

23 KANSAS CITY(S)

31 at New YorkJets

(M) Monday (S)Saturday

SCHEDULESTRENGTH
NFL rank T11
Opponents' 2005 winning percentage .516
Games against playoff teams 5

ENEMY LINES
AN OPPOSING TEAM'S SCOUT SIZES UP THE RAIDERS

> Randy Mossis no longer a player to fear. He's still tough in the red zone, but he doesn'tcontribute if he's not in the flow of the game. He doesn't block, and theydon't make a great effort to get him the ball.

> TheRaiders should be able to run the ball, but they can't afford an injury toLaMont Jordan.

> Peoplethink Derrick Burgess is a one-dimensional pass rusher, but he plays with greatleverage. You have to account for him, or he'll get two or three sacks agame.

>First-round pick Michael Huff from Texas is a fast, physical player who canplay safety or cornerback. He'll be a star.

> CornerbackFabian Washington has a lot of upside. But safety Stuart Schweigert isinconsistent and too stiff in his tackling.

When AaronBrooks is good, he's very good, and when he's bad, he's awful. He's anup-and-down player.

BREAKOUTPLAYER
Fabian Washington
CORNERBACK

Of the fivefirst-round picks the Raiders have spent on DBs since 2001, Washington hasshown the most promise. Blessed with 4.3 speed and sharp instincts, the formerNebraska standout turned heads in '05 as a rookie by holding his own againsttop receivers in 11 starts. This summer the 5'11", 185-pound Washington hasbeen more consistent in his reads and coverage, and he opened the preseasonwith a pick against the Eagles in the Hall of Fame game. He looks like thelong-term answer to the departure of Charles Woodson.

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PROJECTEDSTARTING LINEUP

WITH 2005STATISTICS

COACH ART SHELL(54-38 in NFL), first season with Oakland

OFFENSE

RANDY MOSS
POS WR
REC 60
YARDS 1,005
TD 8

LAMONT JORDAN
POS RB
RUSH 272
YARDS 1,025
TD 11

AARON BROOKS(New Acquisition)
POS QB
ATT 431
COMP 240
PCT 55.7
YARDS 2.882
TD 13
INT 17
RATING 70.0

ZACK CROCKETT
POS FB
RUSH 60
YARDS 208
TD 1

JERRY PORTER
POS WR
REC 76
YARDS 942
TD 5

SEBASTIANJANIKOWSKI
POS K
FG 20-30
POINTS 90

COURTNEYANDERSON
POS TE
REC 24
YARDS 303
TD 3

ROBERTGALLERY
POS LT
HT 6'7"
WT 325
G 16

BARRY SIMS
POS LG
HT 6'5"
WT 300
G 16

JAKE GROVE
POS C
HT 6'4"
WT 300
G 10

PAUL MCQUISTAN(R) (New Acquisition)
POS RG
HT 6'6"
WT 315
G 11

LANGSTONWALKER
POS RT
HT 6'8"
WT 345
G 6

DEFENSE

THOMAS HOWARD(R) (New Acquisition)
POS WLB
TACKLES 85
SACKS 3
INT 1

DERRICKBURGESS
POS LE
TACKLES 57
SACKS 16

WARREN SAPP
POS LT
TACKLES 32
SACKS 5

TOMMY KELLY
POS RT
TACKLES 45
SACKS 4 1/2

TYLER BRAYTON
POS RE
TACKLES 16
SACKS 1

SAM WILLIAMS*
POS SLB
TACKLES 27
SACKS 0
INT 0

SHANE LECHLER
POS P
PUNTS 82
AVG 45.7

FABIANWASHINGTON
POS CB
TACKLES 43
INT 0

MICHAEL HUFF (R)(New Acquisition)
POS SS
TACKLES 109
SACKS 2
INT 1

KIRK MORRISON
POS MLB
TACKLES 116
SACKS 0
INT 0

STUARTSCHWEIGERT
POS FS
TACKLES 87
SACKS 0
INT 2

NNAMDIASOMUGHA
POS CB
TACKLES 60
INT 0

 

(R) Rookie(college statistics) *2004 statistics

2005 RECORD4-12
NFL RANK (RUSH/PASS/TOTAL) OFFENSE 29/10/21 DEFENSE 25/18/27

PHOTO KEVIN TERRELL/WIREIMAGE.COMBROOKS PHOTOSIMON BRUTYTHE HOLE THING The revamped offense will spring LaMont Jordan, who had only three 100-yard games in '05. PHOTOGREG TROTT/WIREIMAGE.COM TWO PHOTOS PHOTOHELMET PHOTO BY DAVID N. BIRKWITZ

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)