The Raiders are coming. The Raiders are coming.
"They (the reasons for the Raiders' improvement) are Bo Jackson and the fact that Howie Long is playing a great deal stronger than he was," said Charger Coach Dan Henning. "Both of those guys have ignited them."
Defensive end Long was injured and not a factor in the first Charger game, a 40-14 Raider victory in the season opener. Running back Jackson was still playing for the Kansas City Royals.
As to what effect Shell may have had on the Raiders, now 5-4, Henning said: "They've probably got some new feeling about themselves. But I haven't seen Art throw any blocks yet. But they're playing better. And they played pretty well against us the first time."
Henning praised his battered offensive line Monday for limiting the Eagles to two quarterback sacks in Sunday's 20-17 victory over Philadelphia.
"This has got to be a key for any continued progress toward getting big plays," Henning said. "They (the offensive line) did better."
Henning's remarks were in stark contrast to the comments made by Steve Zucker, the agent for Charger quarterback Jim McMahon, in Monday's edition of The Times.
"I really think Jim's playing well, especially considering that line in front of him," Zucker said. "I mean look at it. You won't hear it from him, but how can you get anything done with that line?"
Charger defensive coordinator Ron Lynn pays attention to a lot of different statistics. But he is especially proud of the fact that the Chargers haven't allowed more than 20 points in any of their last seven games.
"We have a pretty good feel each week what we're going to get from our guys," he said. "You don't have to put guns to their heads."
"The defense is doing the No. 1 thing it has to," said Henning, who often disparages statistics. "And that's keep points off the board."
The Charger defense has allowed 14.2 points per game in the past seven weeks.
Henning said McMahon's health is better than it has been in weeks.
"I think he's probably not as vulnerable now because he's gone two and a half weeks without a real focused type of malady," Henning said.
The two major injuries out of the Philadelphia game were to defensive end Lee Williams and right tackle Brett Miller. Both suffered leg contusions. But Henning said both should be able to play against the Raiders.
The Charger coaching staff used remarks attributed to Philadelphia Coach Buddy Ryan as a motivational tool.
"I would never want to get into a war of words with Buddy," Henning said. "But he had an interview somewhere along the line where he said our defense wasn't as good as their defense. Our defense took that as a challenge.
"He also said that even though they were having troubles on offense, theirs was still better than ours. Some of our people on offense took exception to that. And for that, we thank Buddy."