ALAMEDA, Calif. (Jan. 4, 2006) -- Art Shell's second stint as coach of
the Oakland Raiders will end after only one
season, the franchise's worst in more than four decades.
In a brief statement, the team said: "Al Davis and Art Shell met today
and discussed the 2006 football season. While Art will no longer serve
as head coach, he and Mr. Davis have discussed and will continue to
discuss opportunities for Art to remain a valued member of the Raider
A listless offense ruined Art Shell's second stint as Raiders coach.
The meeting followed a 2-14 season that was the worst for Oakland since
Shell was unavailable for comment, but said Jan. 1 he expected to be
back for a second season.
"I firmly believe in what we're trying to do," he said then. "And I
firmly believe in where we're headed with this thing. Many times, a
record is not an indicator, and I know it's wins and losses that count,
but I think and believe that we're a better group than we were at the
beginning of the year or at any time in the offseason."
Shell's ouster would mark the third coaching change for Davis in the
past four years. Oakland has only a 15-49 record in that span.
When Shell was hired to replace Norv Turner last February, he vowed to
return the Raiders to their glory days. Instead, the Raiders had the
league's worst record and set franchise marks for losses and fewest
Shell, a Hall of Fame offensive tackle in his playing career with the
Raiders, was previously fired by Davis following the 1994 season after
posting a 54-38 record in five-plus years and leading the team to three
Davis said he long regretted firing Shell and finally brought him back
for a second stint after some other candidates bowed out during a
lengthy search to replace Turner.
This stint wasn't nearly as successful.
Jerry Porter, the team's leading receiver in 2005, clashed with
Shell's coaching staff over offseason workout plans and publicly
demanded a trade on the first day of training camp.
That ultimately led to Porter being benched and later suspended, leading
some players to question whether the feud was damaging the team.
Those questions only grew louder as Oakland lost its first five games,
sparking talk of a possible winless season.
Back-to-back home victories in late October against Arizona and
defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh provided a brief respite, but
Oakland lost its final nine games.
While the defense under coordinator Rob Ryan was a bright spot for the
team, the offense was by far the worst in the NFL. Ryan is expected to
be a candidate to replace Shell.
Shell hired his old friend Tom Walsh as coordinator even though Walsh
had been out of the NFL since 1994 and most recently had been running a
bed and breakfast in Idaho.
Walsh's background and the team's poor performance made the Raiders a
laughingstock around the league. They failed to score a touchdown on
offense in eight games, including all four national television
appearances in prime time.
Shell demoted Walsh late in the season but the team did not fare any
better under John Shoop and finished last in the league with 168 points
-- the fifth-lowest total in a 16-game season. The team also allowed a
league-worst 72 sacks.
Shell could not generate much at all from big-play receiver Randy Moss, another player who criticized the staff. Moss complained
about being worked too hard, said things were "fishy" and speculated
that he might be better off on another team.
The Raiders have struggled mightily since returning from Los Angeles
following the 1994 season. They have had only three winning seasons in
that time, including the final two seasons under Jon Gruden and Bill
Callahan's trip to the Super Bowl following the 2002 season.
Callahan was fired after going 4-12 the next season and replaced by
Turner, who was only 9-23 in his two seasons.
The Raiders have finished in last place in the AFC West for four
consecutive season and their struggles have been most evident against
division rivals. Oakland is winless in the division the past two
seasons, losing 14 straight and 22 of 24 games to San Diego, Denver and
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