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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Raiders "Hybrid" Bill Walsh Offense To Include Zone-Stretch Blocking - Tribune

This is from the blog entry of Jerry McDonald of The Oakland Tribune.

Posted by Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer on March 29th, 2007
Expect the Raiders to make some defensive linemen very angry this year.

The expertise of some new coaches as well as some anecdotal evidence suggests that the Raiders will join the Denver Broncos as a cut-blocking scourge of the AFC West.

Recently acquired free-agent fullback Justin Griffith, participating Thursday in the club's voluntary off-season workout program, has taken a look at his new line and thinks they'll fit in just fine with a system imported from Atlanta by way of Denver.

"The system didn't fit the offensive lineman that you had," Griffith said of the 2006 Raiders line. "We've got a new offensive line coach now. Great system for these guys, especially in the running game. You really don't have to go and hit guys high, you can just cut 'em down."

The Raiders line coach, Tom Cable, continued the system taught by Alex Gibbs, who was a consultant last season for the Falcons. Gibbs made annual treks to USC to teach blocking while Lane Kiffin was the co-offensive line coach there.

Gibbs, a former Raiders assistant when Mike Shanahan was on staff, followed Shanahan to Denver and instituted the system of blocking which has made the Broncos the NFL's top rushing team since 1995.

Shanahan was also influenced by 49ers line coach Bobb McKittrick when he was the 49ers offensive coordinator. The same McKittrick whose tactics so enraged Howie Long in 1985 the two nearly scuffled in a Los Angeles Coliseum runway.

Center Jeremy Newberry played for McKittrick in San Francisco and under Cable at Cal. He describes Cable's philosophy as "stretch and cut."

Tackle Robert Gallery, who stands to benefit to a philosophy of agility rather than straight-ahead, man blocking, said, "You might think that (the Raiders will be similar to Denver and Atlanta). But we're really jsut working on techniques now . . . we'll know more down the road."

Newberry thought so much of Cable that when he learned Cable was leaving Cal to be a head coach at Idaho, he immedately applied for the NFL draft as a junior.

"It was unbelieveable that we fell into him," Kiffin said Thursday. "I had known him a little bit from his days at UCLA, for him to have been a head coach, an offensive coordinator, this offensive line coach isn't like a normal guy. He sees it all, he gets it, he sees outside the gox and for him to be here working with these thus and he's bringing to them already is great.

"System-wise, coming from SC, we were a dominant zone (blocking) team with a number of runs but specializing in zones."

Griffith, regarded as an excellent receiver out of the backfield, termed the Raiders offense, "West Coast" and is thrilled to be playing for Tom Rathman, who filled that role with the 49ers.

Kiffin called the evolving Raiders system a "hybrid."

More notes from Thursday's media session:

– Kiffin, who got a lot of positive press with the national media at the NFL owner's meetings, has already come a long way from the guy who understandably appeared stiff and nervous sitting next to Al Davis the day he was hired.

When asked if Andrew Walter learned anything from last year's weekly beatdown, Kiffin replied, "You can learn from anything. You can learn from divorce."

– Kiffin reaffirmed that he expected Moss to be a part of the Raiders this season, but really, what is he supposed to say?

Moss has already done a bang-up job trashing his own trade value, and Kiffin doesn't need to give him any more help in that regard. He's sure not going to trash the guy. Things will work out best for the Raiders if Kiffin says nice things about Moss right up to the moment he is sent on his way.

Moss has not attended a volutnary workout or talked to Kiffin other than a 15-minute phone call. Kiffin has had there meetings with Porter, cleared the air with Gallery and others, but has received just 15 minutes with Moss. He said he doesn't see this as odd.

"I don't because there wasn't anything from that time to this time that was pressing," Kiffin said. "Obvoiusly we'll have more conversations coming up and I look forward to working with him."

– Players come and go on a staggered schedule. Kiffin reports better than 90 percent attendance, which is about the same figure quoted by prevous coaches. Some of the Raiders spotted Thursday included LaMont Jordan, Walter, Gallery, Michael Huff and Nnamdi Asomugha.

– There have been no announcements, but unrestricted free agent guard Corey Hulsey has apparently been re-signed. Hulsey, who visited with the Giants recently, was in uniform with the team.

– Kiffin said the Raiders have spoken with representatives for unrestricted free agent quarterback David Carr, released last week by Houston. He declined to get into specifics. Kiffin was an offensive assistant for two years when Carr was at Fresno State.

– Telling comment from Gallery on what advice he would give to the No. 1 pick in the draft, currently owned by the Raiders.

"You've got to do your thing. You come in, work with the situation you're in," Gallery said. "It may not be, to start out, exactly what you want or what best fits you. But at some point you're going to show everybody what you're made of. What everybody says and writes about you, it only affects them. It doesn't really affect who you are."

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