By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 at 8:15 pm in Oakland Raiders.
With all the conflicting accounts of another typical offseason for the Raiders, one thing is for sure _ Hue Jackson was in Alameda, talking to team officials.
Assume that Al Davis was among them if you want, but at this point, with all the reports, denials and non-denials, it’s hard to know what’s up with the Raiders.
The Jackson visit, I’m assured, is a lock.
So where does that leave us?
First, Jackson wouldn’t be in the building if he’s not a serious candidate to be something. Since John Herrera said earlier today the Raiders have interviewed no head coaching candidates but have fielded calls from assistants, we’ll assume the reports about him being interviewed as a candidate for offensive coordinator are accurate.
Whether Jackson is under contract or not doesn’t matter much. The Ravens simply deny permission if he’s under contract, or perhaps they’ve already agreed in writing he could leave for a coordinator’s spot. He’s not here unless he’s available to be hired.
Jackson has considerable experience as an offensive coach. He coached running backs for the Redskins in 2001-02, was the Redskins offensive coordinator in 2003, coached wide receivers in Cincinnati from 2004-06 and was offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007.
With the Falcons, the line coach was Tom Cable. When Jackson was on the staff at Cal in 1996, Cable was the line coach.
Correction: Cable was with the Raiders in 2007. Jackson and Cable worked together only at Cal.
So it’s not a reach to think Jackson could be the new offensive brain-trust on a Cable-coached team. Or that Davis is at least examining the possibility.
In that scenario, if the Raiders were to again stumble out of the gate, Jackson could take over as head coach. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as we media-types are prone to do during yearly coaching searches.
As for all the Raiders denials about not talking to Fassel, Trestman, Harbaugh, etc., about the head coaching job?
In their favor is the fact they haven’t operated that way in the past, or at least since they returned to Oakland. The real “interviews” came after the head coach was fired.
On the other hand, every team in the NFL has ways of reaching out to prospective candidates should they dump their coach. That’s not the same as an interview. It’s more along the lines of, “In a hypothetical situation, if we fire our coach, are you interested or not?”
Every team has a front office to do those kinds of things. The Raiders? Not so much. Although it’s not impossible, I’m guessing if Davis wants to gauge the interest of someone like Jim Harbaugh, he calls himself, rather than having Mike Taylor or John Herrera do it.
And even those conversations leave a lot unsaid. Linebackers coach Don Martindale was convinced after a lengthy interview with Davis last season he was under consideration to be the head coach. The Raiders, by way of a Herrera statement after the fact, said he wasn’t.
Jon Gruden said he never remembers even being told he had the job. Lane Kiffin said he and Davis talked and the only thing he was asked is, “Well, do you like us?” Then he was taken away with lawyers to work out a contract.
The Raiders offered the job to Dallas assistant Sean Payton in 2004 and USC assistant coach Steve Sarkisian in 2007, only to flatly deny it when Norv Turner and Kiffin were hired. Even people who work in the building, when their guard is down, will admit as much.
So pick a side to believe and cross your fingers.