Drumming up the intensity

Oakland Raiders quarterback Aaron Brooks was trying to put the best face on his team's opening night disaster.

"We've got a new game plan, we're playing a new team," Brooks said. "We're looking forward to playing Baltimore."

A new game plan?

One would hope.

The Raiders made some head-scratching decisions in both choice of personnel and in their play-calling in a 27-0 loss to the San Diego Chargers, a game which had the sellout crowd booing before the end of the first quarter.

The offense, in particular, was a disaster. The Raiders gained just 129 yards, their lowest total since the start of the 2003 season and fourth time under 200 yards in that span.

The Raiders had to rally to even get into triple figures. With the score 27-0, backup quarterback Andrew Walter drove the Raiders 62 yards in 10 plays before the clock ticked to zero with Randal Williams stepping out of bounds at the 3-yard line.

Their "throwback" offense to the glory days of the Raiders in the 1970s was thrown back in their face.

The plan all along has been to soften up defenses with power running, then attack with deep pass plays.

The problem is, the Raiders seemed ill-equipped or unprepared to deal with the consequences if the Chargers -- the league's best rushing defense last season -- stopped Oakland from running.

With LaMont Jordan (20 yards, 10 carries) failing to make any headway, the Raiders were helpless. Brooks was sacked seven times before he was spared any further abuse. Walter was sacked twice.

The Raiders continued with their plan of five- and seven-step drops even as it became apparent their offensive line was unable to protect the passer.

None of their eight completions went to a running back.

And here come the Ravens, who posted a 27-0 shutout win of their own on the road in Tampa Bay.

Shell alluded to some changes, but was typically non-specific.

"You've got to be able to mix up the protections and mix up the route running," Shell said. "You can't sit there and hold the ball all day because they'll get to you. You're going to throw deep, you've got to take your shots and you've got to plan your shots. If you're going to use a three-step drop, it's a change-of-pace type thing."

Shell maintained that only two of the sacks came on plays with seven-step drops, and that Brooks was getting heavy pressure with five steps.

However, even when Brooks seemed to get something going with a pair of quick passes to Moss on three-step drops -- taking advantage of San Diego's deep-dropping secondary -- the Raiders didn't keep working the openings.

Nor did they try screen plays, draws or traditional methods of turning a team's defensive pressure against itself.

Shell admitted they didn't make any adjustments in the game plan, and instead calling out his team for its lack of intensity.

"Strategy wasn't changed," Shell said. "I challenged them at halftime because I thought it was embarrassing, the way we played. We had all those fans out there rooting for us and we didn't play good football."

With the Ravens promising to bring pressure, might the Raiders alter their strategy to keep their quarterback upright and effective?

"I don't know," Brooks said. "I guess we'll have to wait on that one. That's all the coach's call. We're going to work on what we have up to this point and see how it goes."


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