The Oakland Raiders, having vowed a return to no-nonsense power football, showed in their 16-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Hall of Fame game that they have a ways to go if they intend to flex their muscles.
When it was all over, the Raiders had run 34 times and gained 76 yards. Admittedly, the first team was responsible for only a small part of that before taking the rest of the night off. Still, it was not what coach Art Shell had in mind.
"There were guys out there doing things I hadn't seen them do before because of the heat of battle," Shell said.
Shell and offensive line coaches Irv Eatman and Jackie Slater are returning the Raiders to blocking scheme which is short on finesse and big on technique and brute force.
He wants the Raiders going downhill in a hurry.
"The challenge is we have to be physical," Shell said. "You have to come out being physical right away. But when they looked at (the film), they saw what they were doing wrong. They saw the point of attack."
Shell was concerned but not optimistic. He said he revamped the blocking scheme of the Kansas City Chiefs as line coach, had a rough start, and ended up leading the league in rushing.
While not pleased with Week 1, Oakland's linemen have no fear that Shell will abandon the run. Previous coach Norv Turner talked often of establishing the run and sticking with it, only to go straight to the air at the first sign of trouble.
"It was refreshing that we didn't just all of a sudden go to the pass like we might have done in years past," right tackle Langston Walker said. "We stayed on it, which is what they said they would do. It gave me reinforcement that the coaches actually followed through with it."
Barry Sims, in his first game at left guard after playing at left tackle, said small adjustments will make a difference.
"Sometimes it's just a matter of where you're putting your hands or how you are shifting your weight that makes a big difference in the results of a block," Sims said. "Those are things we can clean up and get better at."
Shell plans on hammering away until the Raiders get it right, promising a steady diet of runs against Minnesota on Monday night.
"We ran the ball 34 times (against Philadelphia). We might run it 50 times this week. We're going to run the football."