12-02-2007, 12:21 PM
Broncos' Shanahan is impressed with how Oakland's running game is now one of NFL's best
12-02-2007, 12:25 PM
ALAMEDA -- It's not often that Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has anything nice to say about a Raiders team he once coached for almost two decades ago.
There are those who believe Shanahan wouldn't mind enduring a 2-14 season as long as those victories came against the Raiders.
Hence, the Raiders have every reason to feel good about the progress of their running game this season if, for no other reason, the change is enough to evoke praise from Shanahan.
"I like what they're doing offensively," Shanahan said.
In particular, Shanahan said, he is impressed by the transformation of Oakland's running game from one of the league's worst the past six years into one of the league's best this season.
The Raiders enter today's game against the Broncos averaging 131.4 rushing yards a game. That is fifth-best among the league's 32 teams. Last season, the Raiders finished 29th at 94.9. They have not finished higher than 16th since they led the league in 2000.
The Raiders were 29th, 29th and 32nd the past three seasons, respectively. Shanahan joins Raiders coach Lane Kiffin in crediting the implementation of first-year Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable's zone-blocking scheme for the marked improvement.
Shanahan speaks from experience. His Broncos have used a similar blocking scheme ever since he arrived in Denver in 1995. He said the system can be grasped in a short period of time and used to turn around a floundering running attack.
"It's very similar
to what's being done with the Raiders right now," Shanahan said. "If people know what they're doing and know how to teach it, they can have some success right away. The Raiders went from (29th) to fifth right now in one year. That kind of proves how quickly you can turn around a running game if you know what you're doing."
The results are even more astonishing when you consider that Cable isn't working with players accustomed to sustained success.
Cable inherited an offensive line that featured two returning players, two castoffs and a player who appeared in only 11 games the previous three seasons.
Left offensive tackle Barry Sims played left guard last season and was benched by then-coach Art Shell late in the season. Left guard Robert Gallery played left offensive tackle last season but was viewed as a better fit inside.
Right offensive tackle Cornell Green and right guard Cooper Carlisle were signed off the free-agent heap after their former teams jettisoned them at the end of the 2006 season. The Raiders gambled on center Jeremy Newberry's ability to return from yet another microfracture surgery on his knee and a three-year run in which he played in only 11 games.
Sims said it didn't take long for him and his linemates to realize that they were on to something good once Cable arrived.
"It's a thing where we're continuing to learn, but you can see guys starting to understand the system better," Sims said. "Once we understand it, that's when you see our running backs succeed. Once we get everybody on the same page, it's going to be pretty tough to stop."
Shanahan said already he can notice a huge difference.
"You can tell that they are very well coached," Shanahan said. "They're much improved from what I've seen in the past. You can see that the players are playing extremely hard."
Cable said his research shows that the top-ranked rushing offense each of the past nine seasons used the zone-blocking scheme. The Broncos favor the scheme because it gives them a distinct advantage in terms of down and distance on a consistent basis, Shanahan said.
"It's positive yards," Shanahan said. "You're trying to limit any negative-yard plays. You want to run the ball down the field and try to prevent negative-yard plays. You have to count eight people in the box to stop the run. Then when you get eight people in the box, you get the chance at some one-on-one coverage."
The other obvious benefit is the system makes it easier for seemingly ordinary running backs to succeed.
The Broncos have a long track record of plugging in undrafted backs or ones selected in the latter rounds of the NFL draft and reaping huge dividends.
Selvin Young and Andre Hall are the latest examples, following on the heels of the likes of Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Reuben Droughns and Tatum Bell. Only once has Shanahan made it through a season without a 1,000-yard rusher, in 2001.
By comparison, the Raiders have had only four players reach the 1,000-yard plateau in the time Shanahan has had six players accomplish the feat 11 times. Raiders running back Justin Fargas is on pace for 1,043 yards and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry this season.
"I don't want to say it's easy running the ball in the NFL because it isn't as easy as it looks," Fargas said. "It just seems so much easier in this system and with the way the offensive line is blocking. We have so much confidence in this system, and it's only going to get better."
12-02-2007, 12:27 PM
He'd make a great politician
This message is hidden because Raiders Rock is on your ignore list.
12-02-2007, 12:37 PM
This message is hidden because Raiders Rock (can't take it)
12-02-2007, 12:40 PM
of course Shanny likes it, it's his.
12-02-2007, 12:42 PM
of course Shanny likes it, it's his.
good point ....... if you cant beat em join em .Raiders are trying to be like the Broncos