We have no idea if Hue Jackson is capable of reversing the fortunes of the Raiders offense and making an NFL quarterback out of JaMarcus Russell.
Yet there’s a perception out there that Jackson is crazy for leaving Baltimore for Oakland and should have waited for a better opportunity to open up as a coordinator elsewhere. He was a finalist and a favorite last year when Mike Singletary surprisingly hired Jimmy Raye. The Bears had scheduled an interview before Jackson decided to come to Oakland.
As much as the Raiders are derided nationally, and justifiably so considering their seven-year free fall, the organization doesn’t kill coaches as much as it makes them.
Jackson can’t lose. If the offense struggles and Jackson is out after a year or three, he’s still a 40-something head coach, one that had the misfortune of being saddled with Russell and working for an owner and organization seen as bizarre and dysfunctional.
Let’s say the opposite occurs. The Raiders offense suddenly begins to put touchdowns on the board. They run better, they pass better. Whether Russell is at the helm or not, if the Raiders get to .500 and beyond, Jackson becomes a hot commodity. If he actually turns Russell around, he’s a miracle worker.
Jackson would be a young, minority candidate to be included on the short list of every NFL team making a head coaching change. That’s getting a foot into a lot of doors.
In that scenario, Al Davis would be helpless to prevent Jackson from accepting a promotion elsewhere, and you know what comes next. Davis’ stated preference is to have a head coach to call the plays, and assuming Cable lasts through the year, a winning season with a strong offense would likely result in Jackson getting elevated so he doesn’t go somewhere else.
Based on how things have gone in Oakland since 1995 other than the three year oasis from 2000 through 2002, it sounds like pure fantasy, which it very well may be.
So in the event of the continued downward spiral, assuming Jackson has committed career suicide by coming to Oakland would be a mistake.
Mike White joined Dick Vermeil in St. Louis and got a Super Bowl ring as an assistant head coach.
Joe Bugel resumed his career as one of the most successful offensive line coaches in the game with San Diego and Washington.
Jon Gruden got a huge raise and won a Super Bowl after being dealt to Tampa Bay.
Bill Callahan landed one of the plum jobs in college football at Nebraska, and is the right-hand man for Rex Ryan with the New York Jets, one of the most respected assistant coaches in football.
Norv Turner, AFC West doormat in Oakland, dominates it as the Chargers head coach after spending a year in San Francisco as offensive coordinator.
Lane Kiffin went 5-15, was all but hanged in public square and got the Tennessee and USC jobs in consecutive seasons.
The only coach whose career suffered was Shell, who had been out of the game more than a decade.
Jackson isn’t the Raiders head coach, but he’s the most splashy hire of an assistant in recent memory and his career arc won’t be affected no matter how the Raiders fare. If he wins, he wins big. If he loses, he still wins.