Shell loses Raiders' head coaching job for second time

Updated: January 5, 2007, 11:50 AM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Art Shell has been fired as head coach of the Oakland Raiders for the second time in 13 years.

After a daylong meeting between Shell and owner Al Davis on Thursday, Davis decided to go a different direction with his head coaching position. The Raiders finished 2-14 and the offense scored only 12 touchdowns in 16 games.

Art Shell's Approval Rating
 Shell
Shell
Although a two-game winning streak at midseason (highlighted by a win against old foe Pittsburgh) gave Raider Nation hope, Shell's approval rating from SportsNation surpassed 50 percent only once and averaged just 26 percent over the course of the season.

Shell's Week-to-Week Graph

The sides were expected to meet again Friday morning to determine whether Shell would return for the 2007 season, but two hours after Thursday's meeting, the decision was made: Shell was out.

"Al Davis and Art Shell met today and discussed the 2006 football season," the Raiders said in a statement. "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 organization."

Shell was expected to meet with his staff Friday to inform them that he has stepped down.

Shell was hired as head coach in February when Davis admitted he made a mistake in firing him in 1994. Shell's record in Oakland was 56-41 from 1989-94. In 1989, Shell was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after one of the most distinguished careers in Raiders history.

After Shell's firing in 1994, only one Raiders coach, Jon Gruden, had a winning tenure. Shell met with Davis last January, and Davis felt he needed to hire a former Raider who understood and believed in the team's tradition. Shell was given a two-year contract to turn the team around.

But problems began early and soon escalated.

Shell and wide receiver Jerry Porter hit it off poorly during the offseason, and Porter barely played in 2006 -- Shell's decision -- even though he was healthy most of the season. Wide receiver Randy Moss openly complained about his frustrations with the Raiders' ineffective offense. By midseason, Shell demoted offensive coordinator Tom Walsh, whom he hired straight from a dude ranch, and replaced him with John Shoop, the former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator who was coaching the tight ends.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, the offense remained stagnant and could not score points consistently.

One possible successor to Shell might come from his staff. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan turned around the defense, which started eight young players. Davis, however, likes to hire offensive-minded head coaches, so it would go against Raiders tradition to hire a defensive coach.

At this stage, though, Davis is looking for any solution. In the past four years, the Raiders are 15-49.

Information from ESPN.com senior writer Michael Smith was used in this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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