Raider Vault: The Time Randy Moss was a Raider

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Art Shell, who hadn’t coached since a 2000 stint as an assistant with the Falcons, brought in his former QB’s coach and Offensive Coordinator from his first stint with the Raiders, Tom Walsh, who had been out of coaching since having the head job with the Mobile Admirals of the Regional Football League (I didn’t know either of these were a thing) in 1999. Shell inherited Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan (and secondary coach Chuck Pagano), who seemed to have curried the favor of Al Davis. Shell also inherited Moss.

Davis would shake things up on the roster just slightly before the 2006 season. He cut quarterback Kerry Collins, who had thrown for 7,254 yards and 41 TD’s in two years as a Raider, and replaced him with Aaron Brooks, who was at the time the Saints all-time leader in passing touchdowns. Brooks had struggled through two tough years in New Orleans – including the 2005 campaign that was horribly marred by Hurricane Katrina – and was looking for a fresh start in Oakland. The Raiders had let go of Charles Woodson, and drafted Michael Huff and Thomas Howard to join Kirk Morrison, Nnamdi Asomugha, Warren Sapp and Derrick Burgess on the defense. The Raider Nation was looking forward to returning to the winning form of the 1990’s with their 1990’s coaches, with a healthier Randy Moss, a reinvigorated Aaron Brooks, and a solid defense.

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  • They would get no such thing. In the opener on Monday night against the Chargers, Aaron Brooks was sacked 9 times and completed only eight of his 19 pass attempts, four of which went to Moss for 47 yards. Philip Rivers threw only 11 passes, but LaDanian Tomlinson had 131 yards rushing and the Raiders went down 27-0 in the first home shutout in Raider history. The following week, Aaron Brooks dislocated his shoulder while losing his second fumble on as many possessions and was replaced with Andrew Walter, a second-year QB out of Arizona State. Walter was sacked six times and completed 10 of 27 pass attempts for 162 yards and 3 interceptions.  Moss caught two balls for 32 yards in the losing effort.

    Moss would go on to catch a single pass – for a 5 yard TD – the following week in a loss to Cleveland, but would go on to have three straight games of solid production, catching 17 passes for 267 yards and 2 TD’s in a three game stretch that included the team’s first win of the year against Arizona (Moss led all receivers in that game). In the Raiders victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers the following week, Moss was only targeted four times and caught two passes.  He was featured heavily again in a 16-0 loss to Seattle (targeted 13 times, 6 receptions for 76 yards), but then the season got away from him: he would go on to catch 10 passes for 106 yards over the next five weeks before an ankle injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. The Raiders finished the season 2-14.

    Tom Walsh’s “bed and breakfast” offense, with it’s emphasis on slow-developing pass plays and deep drops, had been disastrous: Raider quarterbacks were sacked 72 times in the 2006 season and combined for 7 TD’s and 24 interceptions. The team ranked dead last in overall offense and scoring offense. Aaron Brooks would return to start the last six games of the year, but would only manage to not throw as many interceptions as Andrew Walter had.  Randy Moss, despite having the worst year of his career in almost any measurable way, finished as the Raiders second-leading receiver and led the team in touchdown receptions with three.  After the season, Walsh badmouthed Moss, saying he had “diminishing skills” and criticized his work ethic.  Moss for his part admitted that he had a difficult time focusing on a team that couldn’t win a game.  Moss was cast as a locker room cancer, and as an emblem of the Raiders deep organizational issues. On April 29, 2007, the Raiders traded Moss to the New England Patriots for a 4th round draft pick, which they used the next day to take cornerback John Bowie, who played in five career games and recorded two career tackles.