Walter under the gun


Posted Nov 1, 2006


As much as Raiders coach Art Shell enjoyed talking about his defense, he had to answer for his offense.

"I enjoyed the win like everybody else," Shell said the day after a 20-13 victory over the Steelers at McAfee Coliseum. "But when I left to go home, I think about everything else, too -- all the things that occurred during the course of the game that we need to get better at. A win is great, but you've got to look at the whole thing and take care of the things you didn't do well, and you've got to address those things.

"While everybody else enjoys it and fans have a wonderful time, we as coaches have to take a look at everything."

The Raiders won despite producing just 98 net yards of offense. They averaged 3.2 yards per carry, and starting quarterback Andrew Walter completed just five of 14 passes for 51 yards and was sacked six times. Walter called it "disgusting" and "ridiculous."

In the broadcast booth, former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon was unsparing in his criticism of the team he once led to an AFC championship while winning the MVP and passing for 4,678 yards and setting an NFL record with 418 completions.

Gannon, now an analyst for CBS, often had five completions by the end of the first drive, not five for the game.

He was critical of Oakland's problems with pass protection. The Raiders have had difficulty with 3-4 defenses, and the Steelers often got free shots at Walter.

"I don't understand this," Gannon said on the air. "This is the National Football League and they're not getting a body on him. If I'm (Steelers defensive coordinator) Dick LeBeau, I'm seeing this and saying, 'They're not blocking my (strong-side) linebacker. I'll keep bringing him until they have an answer for him.'"

Not that Walter was without blame.

"I want to see some urgency from Andrew. He doesn't even see the blitz coming," Gannon said. "When you don't have 'em blocked, you can't just hold it. You've got to get the ball out and know where your receivers are."

Particularly perplexing was Oakland's decision to run a double-tight end formation on first-and-goal at the 4 -- while out of timeouts -- and remove Randy Moss, Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry from the field.

Shorn of their top playmakers in what was essentially a passing situation, the Raiders threw incomplete to fourth option Chad Slaughter, an offensive tackle playing tight end, and incomplete to tight end Courtney Anderson before kicking a field goal. Slaughter was being covered by Joey Porter, one of the better cover linebackers in the NFL.

"You watch this route," Gannon said. "This isn't pretty. "That's a bad decision on Walter's part. He can't throw it to that part of the field in that situation."

As for Oakland's offense, Gannon said the Steelers regarded it as "simplistic" and "vanilla."

"You'd like to see more involvement in the passing game from the backs and tight ends," Gannon said. "They've got to open up the offense to help the quarterback and give him some outlets, give him some checkdowns to get him going."

Shell said he has no problem with the play-calling of beleaguered offensive coordinator Tom Walsh. He said all plays and position groupings would be revisited without being specific.

Regardless, it appears Walter, who had his best game the previous week against Arizona, remains the starting quarterback. Aaron Brooks will start practice Wednesday, but Shell sounded skeptical that Brooks would be ready to play by Monday night.

The Raiders got a first from Shell after beating Pittsburgh -- a day off. Unlike previous regimes, Shell stuck to every scheduled training camp practice and had no days on which veterans were given days off.

"I felt they needed something, so I gave it to them," Shell said. "What do they call it, a 'Victory Monday?' I decided since we've got a Monday night game coming up, to give it to them. We need a rest."

Only players who had treatment or wanted to come in and work out were there Monday.

"I don't know why, all I know is coach said, 'See you Wednesday,'" Burgess said.



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