Raiders Go From Muddle to No Huddle : Football: White hopes to replace confusion and in-fighting of last season by giving Hostetler the call and Ismail the ball.


After more than a month of brainstorming, Al Davis and his new Raider offensive coaching staff have emerged with a no-huddle offense.

That was merely one of the wrinkles revealed by new Coach Mike White the other day.

White also spoke of his staff's plan to let quarterback Jeff Hostetler call more plays, and of a desire to use receiver Rocket Ismail more.

"We are firm believers in letting your players dictate the system that you use," White said. "We will not stuff players into a set system."

Last season, under Art Shell and offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, the Raiders were criticized for calling predictable plays and an unwillingness to let Hostetler control the game.

Much of the time next fall, apparently, Hostetler will be in control.

The no-huddle offense was embraced the last two seasons in Denver by then-offensive coordinator Jim Fassel. He often used it on possessions after the opposing offense had been stopped on three plays and the opposing defense was tired.

It is no coincidence that the attack is coming to the Raiders at the same time Fassel has joined the team as quarterbacks coach with the promise that he or his quarterbacks will be allowed to call the plays.

White, who also will receive input from new offensive assistant Joe Bugel, said the device will allow Hostetler to shine.

"The good quarterbacks in this league are proud, tough-minded guys," White said. "That is Jeff. We want to give him a chance to show that more on the field."

The best defense against a no-huddle offense, however, is an offensive penalty, such as an offside, and the Raiders set an NFL record with 156 penalties last season. White promised that 1995 will be different.

"If we have to have a full officiating crew working every practice to cut down on our penalties, then that is what we will do," he said.

Allowing quarterbacks to call their own plays is unusual in this day and age, but the Raiders say they are unconcerned with trends.

"We could have Jeff call a lot of the plays," White said. "I remember when I was an assistant coach at Stanford and we had Jim Plunkett in the Rose Bowl, he called about 50% of the plays that day. I believe in that, and I've done it before."

If nothing else, such ideas should lead to clubhouse peace. Hostetler engaged in a sideline shouting match with Shell last season about the play-calling, and receiver Tim Brown criticized the game plan several weeks later.

One of White's main duties this spring has been mending those fences.

He visited Hostetler in West Virginia for a pep talk, then entertained Brown in El Segundo.

"I went back to ask Jeff if maybe he felt part of the responsibility for what happened last year, and he did," White said. "I told him some of our feelings, and he appreciated them."

White said he also has talked to Brown about critical statements he made after Shell was fired.

"Tim wanted us to know that his feelings were about the past, not the future," White said. "He has been around a lot this off-season, already showing that he really wants to be part of the program."

Brown's workload should be lighter next year, however, if the coaching staff's plans for Ismail are realized.

"We look at a talent like Rocket, you have to get the ball in his hands," White said.

Bugel, who developed the Washington Redskins' "Hogs" offensive line in the 1980s, is developing a similar scheme to give Hostetler more time to find guys like Rocket.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World