View Full Version : Oakland's offense to get changes after slow start

09-24-2003, 02:40 PM
Oakland's offense to get changes after slow start

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
September 23, 2003

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- The NFL has figured out how to slow the Oakland Raiders' offensive machine, so coach Bill Callahan is planning an overhaul.

The quick passes that chewed up opponents last season during the Raiders' Super Bowl run have become difficult to complete. The running game that routinely victimized defenses for timely gains has been almost nonexistent.

Callahan will make big adjustments to his offensive scheme in the wake of the Raiders' 31-10 loss to Denver on Monday night. The defending AFC champions are off to a 1-2 start after three disappointing games, and even Callahan admits the Raiders have become too predictable.


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``The offensive system that we've been deploying has really come under intense scrutiny from opponents,'' Callahan said Tuesday. ``People across the league have researched us, and they're going to find holes in your game somewhere.''

Callahan and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman changed the focus of the Raiders' offense when they took charge before last season. He employed more three-receiver sets and more of the short, precise passes that define the West Coast offense.

Oakland thrived under the adjustments last season. Rich Gannon completed an NFL-record 418 passes on the way to the MVP award, while Jerry Porter became an important performer as the No. 3 receiver.

But teams are figuring out how to stop the Raiders' intricate system. Denver did it with an impressive pass rush from its defensive line and aggressive linebacking play, taking a 31-point lead early in the third quarter while holding Oakland to 74 yards in the first half.

``There are elements of (the Raiders' offense) that show weakness on film, and most coaches will see that when they look at tape,'' Callahan said. ``You've got to rectify those problems. Until you show people that you have the ability to stop what they're presenting you, you're going to continue to see it.''

Callahan describes the offense as ``in transition'' -- largely because Porter is out following hernia surgery. His replacements -- Ronald Curry, Alvis Whitted and rookie Doug Gabriel -- are capable receivers, but don't scare opponents with Porter's speed and tenacity.

Then there are the ongoing struggles for Gannon, whose quarterback rating after three regular season games is a dismal 76.5. He has spent more time yelling at his teammates than leading scoring drives, and his latest outburst was captured on television during Oakland's loss to Denver.

``He's highly driven, highly motivated, and he's got tremendous pride to be the best,'' Callahan said. ``When things around him aren't functioning, he's disturbed.

``(Gannon's outburst) isn't anything uncommon,'' Callahan added. ``Rich is a highly competitive player, and he's going to vocalize how he feels. We understand that, and I share that frustration with him, although I can't say those types of things on national television.''

But the Raiders also reserve plenty of criticism for themselves -- specifically for their execution errors and penalties, which have hamstrung their efforts on both sides of the ball. Oakland has committed 36 penalties for 330 yards this season, while opponents have just 24 for 211 yards.

The Raiders have a short week of preparation to fix many of their problems before Sunday's home game against AFC West rival San Diego (0-3), which is in even worse shape than the Raiders.

Callahan hopes to keep Gannon's frustrations under control by making enough changes to put defenses back on their heels. Oddly enough, one of the solutions might be more long passing in key situations -- a favorite strategy of owner Al Davis, who signed off on his team's adoption of a West Coast offense five years ago.

``Without getting into specifics, we'll do whatever we have to do to get back on track,'' Callahan said. ``There are plenty of areas where we can change and be better.''link (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-raidersregroup&prov=ap&type=lgns)