Impact Of Coaching Changes...

Angry Pope

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2006 Coaching Changes
Fantasy Impact: OAK
8/8/06

Team: Oakland Raiders

Previous Head Coach: Norv Turner (2004-2005)
Current Head Coach: Art Shell (ATL OL Coach: 1997-2000; KC OL Coach: 1995-1996; OAK HC: 1989-1994; OL Coach: 1984-1988)
New Offensive Coordinator: Tom Walsh (OAK OC: 1989-1994; WR/QB Coach: 1982-1988)

Twelve years after his last stint with the Raiders, Art Shell returns to coach the franchise in 2006. Following his 1994 departure, Shell worked with the Chiefs for two years as their offensive line coach. In 1997 he joined the Atlanta Falcons staff, where he spent the next four years. Shell then spent the next five as the Senior Vice President for Football Operations and Development in the NFL office.

Shell's first stint as Raiders head coach came in 1989. He took over the position four games into the season and led the team to a 7-5 record under his command. During the next five seasons, Shell guided the Raiders to a 47-33 record, including three playoff berths and one trip to the AFC Championship game in 1990. After a 9-7 campaign in 1994, he was fired by owner Al Davis.

Along with the return of Shell comes offensive coordinator Tom Walsh. Walsh worked with the Raiders from 1982-1988 as a wide receivers and quarterbacks coach. In 1989 he was promoted to the offensive coordinator position where he spent the next six seasons. From 1997-1998 he was the head coach at Idaho State. He has spent the last seven years working as a football analyst for the Westwood One NCAA Football game of the Week. He also provided analysis for CBS and Westwood One Radio NFL broadcasts.

Shell's Impact on the Offense:

Quarterbacks: Aaron Brooks; Marques Tuiasosopo; Andrew Walter

Aaron Brooks was signed as a free agent in the offseason to replace Kerry Collins as the starting quarterback. The mobility he brings to the position should prove beneficial in his attempts to connect with Randy Moss and Jerry Porter downfield. The last time Shell and Walsh worked together, their passing game relied on deep vertical routes. With Randy Moss they have the best deep threat in the game and you can be certain Brooks will look for him often on passing downs.

In order for Brooks to be as effective with the Raiders as he was in New Orleans (he averaged 3,690 yards and 24 TDs a season from '01-'04), he'll need improved play from his lineman. With Robert Gallery moving over to the LT position, and Barry Sims moving from LT to LG, there's reason to be optimistic about the O-line improving.

The Raiders will likely to be playing from behind on a regular basis, but if the Raiders should be leading early, it will likely be the result of the offense scoring points as opposed to the defense shutting teams down. That being the case, Brooks high production should be expected either way. Look for Brooks to approach 3,750 yards passing this season while tossing in the vicinity of 25 touchdowns--of course with Moss as his primary option.

Running Backs: LaMont Jordan; Justin Fargas; Zack Crockett (FB); Reshard Lee

Last season was Jordan's first with the Oakland Raiders and as a featured back in the NFL. Playing in Norv Turner's system, Jordan produced 1,025 yards on 272 carries (3.8 YPC) with 9 touchdowns on the ground. While his rushing yardage wasn't overly impressive, Jordan also contributed 70 receptions for 563 yards and 2 touchdowns out of the backfield.

With Art Shell, Jackie Slater and Irv Eatman now on the Raiders coaching staff (All three played OL in the NFL with Shell and Slater being elected to the Hall of Fame), expect Jordan to surpass last seasons totals. Not only will improved play from the offensive line aid in his production, but an emphasized commitment to the running game will help him as well. Art Shell is on record saying he wants to see more from the ground game this season. His hope is to play a more smash mouth style of football by running Jordan between the tackles. If done successfully, it will open up the passing game and allow Brooks to connect more frequently with his receivers.

If the Raiders defense was on par with the better units in the league, there would be good reason to expect a breakout season from Jordan.

Unfortunately, the Raiders defensive unit is one of the worst in the NFL. That being the case, it's important to keep expectation levels in check for Jordan this season. Expect him to rush for nearly 1,200 yards and reach the endzone 9-12 times. You can also expect 50-60 receptions from him for about 450 yards.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss; Jerry Porter; Doug Gabriel; Ronald Curry; Alvis Whitted; Carlos Francis; Kevin McMahan

There's no need to discuss the talents of Randy Moss here. When healthy, he is arguably the best receiver in the game. Last season he totaled 60 receptions, 1,005 yards and 8 touchdowns despite playing most of the year with injuries to his groin, hip and pelvis. If healthy, Moss should have his best season since 2003. Expect him to catch 90-100 balls this year and produce over 1,300 yards with double digit touchdowns.

While many have been waiting for Porter to bust out since his third year in the league, he is yet to crack the 1000-yard mark in a single season. He reached a career high last year with 76 receptions, but some of that can be attributed to Moss playing at less than 100% for much of the season. That said, Porter still finds himself in position to record over 900 yards for a third straight year. He could also have anywhere from 5-9 touchdowns this season.

Doug Gabriel and Ronald Curry will battle for the slot position, but you'll see limited production from whichever receiver wins the spot. Neither are worth more than being a fifth receiver for your fantasy team, barring an injury to either Moss or Porter.

Tight Ends: Courtney Anderson; Randal Williams; Marcellus Rivers; O.J. Santiago

In Shell's first tenure as the Raiders coach, he managed to keep his tight ends fairly involved in the offense. Courtney Anderson showed some flashes last season and finished the year with 24 receptions for 303 yards and 3 touchdowns. Don't expect him to jump high up the fantasy rankings, but he could see an increase in production this season by catching 30-35 balls for 350-400 yards.
 
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