This is a shakeup, Raider-style. . . .
Two assistant coaches were fired Wednesday and two who reportedly had been let go are still on the staff. Gone, said Coach Mike Shanahan, are defensive coordinator Charlie Sumner and secondary coach Willie Brown.
Staying on are quarterback coach Tom Walsh and running backs coach Joe Scannella. Both were reportedly fired last week, and Walsh is known to have cleaned out his desk. Both, however, were Al Davis retainees from Tom Flores' staff. Davis was reportedly upset when news of their termination leaked out, referring to Scannella as "family," and apparently reeled them back in.
Brown's firing, however, looks like a Shanahan idea that Davis stood still for. Brown, a Hall of Famer, was a longtime favorite of Davis, who presumably would never have been the one to let him go. Thus it becomes apparent that it is the young first-year coach, not his ever-demanding boss, who's calling the play.
Shanahan doesn't foresee any other moves, which means the remaining assistants--offensive line co-coaches Art Shell and Alex Gibbs; receivers coach Nick Nicolau; special teams coach Pete Rodriguez; defensive line coach Earl Leggett; linebackers coach Sam Gruneisen; coaches' assistant Terry Robiskie; secondary coach Jimmy Warren, and strength coach John Dunn--will remain.
The two firings represent far less of a purge than had been expected. Speculation had been that everyone would go, except Gibbs and Nicolau, who came with Shanahan from Denver, and Shell, another Davis favorite.
This would have meant an entirely new defensive staff and a season of reorientation, while the new coaches and the old players got to know each other. That was basically what happened on the Raider offense last season.
Neither Brown nor Sumner could be reached for comment.
Brown, a Raider star from 1967-78, and the man credited with popularizing, if not inventing bump-and-run coverage, had been an assistant since 1979. In Los Angeles, however, there was always a co-coach handling the secondary with him, first Chet Franklin, then Warren after Franklin went with Steve Ortmayer to the Chargers. Brown was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.
Sumner was the Raider linebackers coach and untitled defensive coordinator for the '84 Super Bowl rout of the Washington Redskins, winning a moment of glory for himself by sending in Jack Squirek, who then intercepted Joe Theismann's screen pass and returned it for a touchdown, putting the game away at the end of the first half.
Sumner left to become head coach of the United States Football League's Oakland Invaders after that game but returned to the Raiders 2 seasons later. His players liked him and considered him an excellent game coach, but in upper-management circles, he was criticized for having too casual an attitude toward practices.
Shanahan is expected to hire a defensive coordinator from outside the organization. Ex-Bronco coordinator Joe Collier's name has been mentioned, but he is not thought to be high on any list, since he coaches a bend-don't-break style instead of the attacking style the Raiders prefer.