Game Plan And Other Information...

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Game plan and other information...

Inside Slant

The Oakland Raiders' game plan under Art Shell goes something like this: The best way to keep an opponent off-balance is to plant him on his backside.
To heck with letting defenses dictate the next play. The Raiders are hoping to do the dictating.

"I think we're going to have our bread-and-butter plays, which I don't think we had in the past," left tackle Robert Gallery said. "We were so random as far as what we did. We really didn't have a go-to play.

"It's going to be hard-nosed and straight up, and that will open up the passing game. We'll see. I think everyone's excited about it. I know I am, that's for damn sure."

Of course, it's easy to talk a good game at a mid-May mini-camp with no shoulder pads and no real hitting. Some time between August and September it will become clear whether Shell's smash-mouth intentions can be transferred to the field.

Former coach Norv Turner came in with a reputation for riding running backs to big rushing stats and promised the Raiders would run.

The result was the two worst rushing seasons in club history. The 2004 Raiders averaged just 80.9 yards per game on the ground, finishing last in the league in rushing.

So Oakland went out and signed free agent LaMont Jordan, who had a respectable 1,025 yards in 14 games, but added only marginally to team rushing success. The Raiders averaged 85.6 yards per game on the ground, 29th in the NFL.

Promising to run the ball is easy. Delivering is something else. But the Raiders are encouraged by Shell's insistence on running and his involvement in that area.

"We're not going to trick a lot of people," center Jake Grove said. "We're going to come right at them and be better than they are, and a lot of that rests with the people up front."

Toward that end, Shell has been spending much of his time with the offensive line and co-coaches Irv Eatman and Jackie Slater, neither of whom has been the main line coach for an NFL team. Eatman was a line assistant to Mike Solari with Kansas City and Slater, a Hall of Fame left tackle, is a first-time NFL coach.

Given Shell's status as a Hall of Fame left tackle, his promises carry more weight both figuratively and literally with Jordan.

"The thing I like is it appears we're going to do what we do, and not what other people do," Jordan said. "Last year, I felt we did some things running-wise because other people were doing it. Art is about power football and that's pretty much what we're doing."


—O.J. Santiago, a tight end by trade who made his mark in 2003 with the unexpected role as a kick blocker, was signed to a free-agent contract.

Santiago started seven games for the Raiders in 2003, but made the team in part because of a willingness to play special teams — something he had done little of with the Atlanta Falcons.

Santiago responded with a pair of blocked punts. He also wound up starting seven games and caught five passes for 69 yards.

—Wide receivers coach Fred Biletnikoff, always pleasant with reporters but seldom quoted, gave Art Shell's return a thumbs-up at his golf tournament in Placer County.

"I'm having fun again," Biletnikoff told the Auburn Journal. "We needed somebody like Art back here."

Biletnikoff believes Shell's presence has made the Raiders sit up and take notice.

"When Art walks into a room, he can be intimidating," Biletnikoff said. "He believes the team wants discipline and they want structure. He can be very, very stern. He provides tough leadership. He believes in accountability. He tells the players, `This is your job and you are expected to do your job.'"

—After the Raiders ended their season on New Year's Eve, safety Jarrod Cooper and nickel back Renaldo Hill — both scheduled for free agency — professed their desire to return.

Cooper was brought back in the fold. Hill signed with Miami and coach Nick Saban, the man who recruited him out of high school to play at Michigan State.

While recognizing Hill's respect for Saban, Cooper thought there was something bigger at work.

"They wrote him a big, fat check," Cooper said. "It's still business. He couldn't turn down money."

—The annual rookie run, a favorite of the veterans at the close of the mandatory May mini-camp, was put in mothballs by Shell for the first time in recent memory.

At least two veteran players expressed mock indignation at being unable to line the field and ridicule first-year players as they struggled with a series of conditioning sprints.

When it was noted to Shell the Raiders had been doing the rookie run in past years, he said, "That was past years. Not when I was coaching. They'll have plenty of time to run."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "When I got hired, people from Minnesota said, `Hey, you're going to love Randy Moss.' And I don't see anything that has changed that." — Raiders coach Art Shell on his most high-profile star.




UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Calvin Branch; RB Omar Easy; TE Zeron Flemister; LB/DE DeLawrence Grant; DT Kenny Smith; S Reggie Tongue.


EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: TE James Adkisson; DT Anttaj Hawthorne; DE Tommy Kelly.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: S Jarrod Cooper; FB John Paul Foschi; S Derrick Gibson; OG Corey Hulsey; DE/LB Grant Irons; OT Brad Lekkerkerker; DT Terdell Sands; OT Chad Slaughter; TE Randal Williams.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: QB Aaron Brooks; DE Lance Johnstone; CB Tyrone Poole; TE Marcellus Rivers; TE O.J. Santiago; RB Rod Smart; OG Cameron Spikes; CB Duane Starks; LB Robert Thomas.

PLAYERS LOST: QB Kerry Collins; DB Renaldo Hill; DT Ed Jasper; LB Tim Johnson; OG Ron Stone; CB Denard Walker; DT Ted Washington; CB Charles Woodson.
Hawthorne gets another sack....

Frankfurt's fourth

May 27, 2006

NFL Europe

Frankfurt Galaxy 22, Amsterdam Admirals 7
LTU arena, Düsseldorf, Germany
Attendance: 36,286

MVP: RB Butchie Wallace

David Kimball's field goal made it 12-7. (
The Frankfurt Galaxy have won an unprecedented fourth World Bowl title after downing the Amsterdam Admirals 15-7 in a hard-fought defensive battle. Amsterdam held a 7-2 half-time advantage but were shut out in the second half, while the Galaxy went from strength to strength.

The Galaxy used the same formula for success that gave them seven regular season victories, moving the ball on the ground behind their outstanding offensive line. After setting a new NFL Europe League record with 1,753 yards rushing during the season, Frankfurt managed 269 in the title game. Roger Robinson (Arizona Cardinals) – who also broke the individual single-season mark – had 96 yards before leaving the game with an ankle injury. However, game MVP Butchie Wallace had 143 yards of his own - 138 of them in the second half - to ensure that the Galaxy did not miss a beat without their star player. Wallace ran the ball just 18 times for that total, averaging 7.9 yards per carry and scoring once.

Frankfurt’s league-leading defense also played their part in the win, sacking Amsterdam quarterback Jared Allen (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) on six occasions and intercepting him once. Brandon Haw’s (Seattle Seahawks) third quarter pick resulted in a Galaxy field goal.

The game was stopped for several minutes in the fourth quarter when Amsterdam guard Michael King (New York Jets) had to be taken off the field in an ambulance after suffering a spinal injury.

Both teams had clearly defined offensive styles, and it showed in the comparison between their respective run to pass ratios. Frankfurt went to the air 19 times compared to 42 runs. The pass-oriented Admirals put it up on 23 occasions while rushing just 18 times.

Amsterdam made their intentions clear from the start, going straight to the air, and picking up consecutive first downs on throws from Allen to Skyler Fulton (Seattle Seahawks) and then tight end Ben Hall (Arizona Cardinals). On the third play from scrimmage Frankfurt’s pass rush countered, with defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne (Oakland Raiders) sacking Allen for a 7-yard loss. That slowed their early momentum, and a drop on third down forced Glenn Pakulak (Oakland Raiders) onto the field to punt.

Frankfurt also emphasized their strength on their opening possession, handing the ball to Robinson on the first two plays to leave them in 3rd-and-1. However, they too were unable to convert, and Mike Barr (Pittsburgh Steelers) punted the ball down to Amsterdam’s 22-yard line.

The Admirals moved the chains on a 12-yard swing pass from Allen to Larry Croom (San Diego Chargers), and went back to the running back on the next play – with Allen picking him out on a screen for a 6-yard pickup. However, on third down the second sack of the evening – this time by German national defensive end Ulrich Winkler – ended the drive and preserved the stalemate.

After punting, Amsterdam’s defense got Frankfurt into a 3rd-and-long situation, but the Galaxy picked up 17 yards on a pass from Otis to Brandon Middleton (St Louis Rams) to reach midfield. However, the drive stalled at Amsterdam’s 42-yard line, and Barr’s picture-perfect punt was downed by Middleton at the 1-yard line – giving the Galaxy a big boost in the field position game.

The first points of the game ensued shortly afterwards. Croom gained two yards on first down to give Amsterdam some breathing space. On second down Allen slipped as he dropped back to pass, and that gave defensive tackle Jerome Nichols (Green Bay Packers) – the 2006 NFLEL sack leader during the regular season with seven – the chance to pounce and sack the quarterback for the first safety in World Bowl history. That score meant that the first quarter ended with the Galaxy in a 2-0 lead.

Frankfurt failed to move the ball after receiving the free kick, and Amsterdam began the following drive at their 30-yard line. On first down Allen found Fulton for a 9-yard pickup, and Croom moved the chains a play later with a 3-yard gain on another screen. However, the Admirals again failed to move the ball past midfield and Pakulak entered the game for his third punt.

In the second period Bryson Spinner (San Francisco) entered the game at quarterback for Frankfurt but was unable to help them move the ball, and after Amsterdam got the ball back from Barr the Admirals set about getting their first – and only – points of the game. A 14-yard run by Croom for a first down was followed by an 8-yard gain by Allen on the ground to take them inside Frankfurt’s half. Allen hit Croom over the middle for another 14 yards on the next play, and saw 15 more tacked on after a roughing the passer call – giving Amsterdam a first down at the Galaxy 13-yard line. Allen looked for Sean Mulcahy (Carolina Panthers) on first down, but the high pass was just out of reach of the leaping tight end. On second down they went back to the ground, and Croom put them on the scoreboard, breaking a tackle on the way to a 12-yard score that made it 7-2 midway through the second quarter.

Frankfurt’s offense looked to be in neutral again until Spinner hit 6-foot-5 Aaron Hosack (with a beautifully flighted pass down the right sideline on third down for a 28-yard gain. The Minnesota Vikings-allocated receiver leapt to make the acrobatic catch at midfield. Spinner did it again two plays later, standing in the pocket despite heavy pressure to find tight end Keith Willis (Seattle Seahawks) for a 15-yard gain to Amsterdam’s 30-yard line. When the drive stalled the Galaxy called David Kimball (Oakland Raiders) into action for a 47-yard field goal, but the attempt slid wide left, leaving the game at 7-2 with 2:40 remaining in the first half.

Spinner got the ball back again with 1:30 remaining, but he was unable to produce any more magic. The half ended with the reigning World Bowl champs in front 7-2, after the lowest-scoring opening two quarters in the 14-year history of the championship game. As the clock ticked down to zero, the time of possession at the end of two quarters was exactly 15 minutes for each team. The Admirals would have entered their locker-room at the break pleased to have held Frankfurt’s record-breaking running game to just 40 yards - not yet knowing what the second half held.

After being stifled in the first half, Robinson scampered for a 24-yard gain on the second play of the third quarter to take the ball to Amsterdam’s 47-yard line. Robinson nearly undid his good work when he fumbled on his next carry, but tight end Willis was on hand to scoop up the loss ball. That fumble stopped Frankfurt in their tracks, and they were forced to punt again after Otis’ pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage by Earl Cochran on third down.

Despite Croom picking up 21 yards on his first two carries of the quarter, Amsterdam were also unable to take the ball into the opponent’s territory and punted the ball back to the Galaxy.

Frankfurt brought Wallace into the backfield on the next series to give Robinson a breather, and he started his award-winning night by carrying the ball on six consecutive plays to pick up 39 yards. The rest obviously did the trick for Robinson, who then stepped in to rip off an 18-yard run of his own to take the ball to Amsterdam’s 28-yard line. Otis then took a shot towards the endzone – aiming for Hosack, who drew a pass interference penalty from cornerback Art Thomas (Miami Dolphins). One play later Wallace bulled his way into the endzone to put the Galaxy back in front at 9-7. The touchdown capped an eight-play, 66-yard drive in which Wallace gained 25 yards.

The Galaxy were soon threatening again after Allen saw a pass picked off and returned 27 yards by NFLEL interception leader Brandon Haw (Seattle Seahawks) to give the team the ball back at the Admirals 29-yard line. A 15-yard pickup by Robinson took them inside the redzone, but – as so often during the season – Frankfurt were forced to settle for a field goal, with Kimball’s successful 29-yard kick giving them a 12-7 lead as the third quarter ended.


Frankfurt’s defense stepped up to hold Amsterdam to another three-and-out on their next drive, and then re-established their running game to take crucial time off the clock for the Admirals. Wallace gained 11 yards on his first two runs, and then picked up 24 after crashing through the left side of Amsterdam’s defensive line. Robinson returned to gain eight yards on the following play, but in the process suffered the ankle injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the game. Otis converted a 3rd-and-inches with a quarterback sneak to give Frankfurt a first down at the 34-yard line. The Admirals defense stopped the Galaxy on their next third down, but Jones elected to go for it on fourth down rather than kick the field goal, and was rewarded for his faith in Wallace with another first down. Amsterdam stopped them again on third down, but this time Jones sent Kimball onto the field to take the 37-yard field goal that made it 15-7. The more important aspect of the drive was the 8:42 that were taken away from Amsterdam, leaving them just 4:30 to try to go ahead.

Allen gamely led his offense downfield, connecting with Fulton for a 12-yard gain, then seeing a hand-off to Croom go for 24 more. The quarterback then found Chad Lucas (Green Bay Packers) for 22 yards, but lost half of those being sacked by Josh Cooper on the very next play. After a long break for injured King to be taken off the field in an ambulance, Allen picked up 10 yards on the ground to make it to the 26-yard line as the two-minute warning was reached. With two plays to pick up 11 yards Allen twice aimed for Lucas in the endzone, but on both occasions the receiver was well covered, and the passes were broken up.

The failure to convert on fourth down turned the ball over to the Galaxy, who then saw Wallace tear away for a 63-yard run to take the ball all the way to Amsterdam’s 12-yard line with 1:12 remaining. On the next play Frankfurt capped the win with a 12-yard run by J.R. Niklos to score their fourth World Bowl title.
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