By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, August 26th, 2010 at 12:09 pm in Oakland Raiders.
A transcription of offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s first press briefing with the local media:
Q: Who’s your number 2 quarterback?
Jackson: Who’s our number 2 quarterback? Well that’s yet to be determined. Obviously Jason is our starter at this point in time. Obviously Bruce is going to play I this game. Kyle has done a wonderful job. We’re just kind of going to let this thing sort itself out over the next couple of weeks.
Q: How will offense look different this year under you?
Jackson: I hope it’s already looking different. The most important thing is we’re striving for balance. We want to be a team that we can run the football when we need to run it and we can throw it when we need to throw it. We’re a multiple formation team. We have some no huddle. We do a little bit of everything. We do whatever it takes to win football games. That’s the most important thing that I’ve stressed from our coaches to our players that whatever it takes to win that’s what we’re going to do.
Q: What’s your take on what you’ve seen so far?
Jackson: I’m very excited about the progress we have made. Obviously from week 1 to week 2 there was improvement. We’re looking for that same improvement from week 2 to week 3. As we continue to move forward, our whole goal is to make sure we’re ready to hit the ground running when the regular season starts and I think we’re well on our way to that happening.
Q: Two years ago Ravens leaned on run as Flacco got acclimated, last year opened up. Which is this offense more like?
Jackson: I’m not going to make a comparison between the two because there’s a whole different set of players here. This environment is going to be the Raiders environment and whatever we do obviously we have a wealth of good players here: Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Zach Miller. We have some prime time football players and we’re tailoring our style of offense around those players to give them the best opportunity to have success.
Q: Do you see Bush and McFadden splitting carries?
Jackson: Well I don’t know. Darren hasn’t played yet. Obviously he’ll get an opportunity in this game and then we’ll kind of see where it goes from there. I’m excited about getting a lot of our pieces out on the football field and watching them play. I have not seen Darren play in a game. That’s going to be exciting. I haven’t seen Bruce perform in a game. That will be exciting for me as a coach finally seeing the other pieces we have to have an opportunity to go out and compete in a game-type environment.
Q: What have you brought to this program since arrival?
Jackson: I don’t know to be honest with you. It’s been fun for me to be very honest with you. The organization for the first six months has said, ‘Hey, let’s go to work.’ I thank them for allowing me to just kind of focus in on what my environment was which was learning these players, understanding exactly what I have to work with, understanding our staff. I came here with a staff already in place. We have some fine, fine coaches on this staff. To take that and here we are today playing football games. We were in training camp and now football games are being played. I’m really excited about where we’re headed and exactly what we’re doping. Obviously I think we’re improving daily as we move toward opening the season.
Q: Nnamdi and defenders have cited your trash talking as motivation?
Jackson: We talk about style. I like to try to have as good a relationship with our defensive players as I do with our offensive players. This is a team sport and I think we all know that. We all kind of work together and work through each other. If I can motivate them in any way, case or form that helps them get through the day or practice a little bit better it’s going to help the offensive football team. Everybody talks about my style. I’m kind of an in-your face guy. I coach with a lot of energy. The most important thing is I’m looking for a result. I’m after a result and a result is I ca get our players whether it’s offense against defense or defense against offense to compete at a high level because that’s what this game is.
Q: Are you able to change offense with different style of QB?
Jackson: What you do is you just kind of channel everything to the guy that’s playing. You want to play to his skill level and give him opportunity to have success. Our offense is driven by the quarterback, there’s no question. Obviously there’s 10 other guys who have to play at a high level too. But our quarterback is a guy who needs to play well. It’s proven, when a quarterback plays well you have a chance to have a pretty good offense. Obviously Jason’s strengths might be a little bit different than Bruce’s strengths and a little bit different than Kyle Boller’s so that’s my job as a coordinator to make sure I put those guys in the best position to have success.
Q: How has Darrius Heyward-Bey progressed and what does he need to work on?
Jackson: I think the sky’s the limit for the young man. I just think he needs to go play and I think he will this week. Obviously we’ve been in one game with him, he didn’t play very much the first game, didn’t make it to last week’s game. I’m looking forward to watching him play. Again, that’s what I’m saying. I’m excited about watching a lot of our pieces finally come out and play together for an extended period of time and see where we are.
Q: Did you need to boost his confidence?
Jackson: No. I don’t think I need to build up any football player’s confidence. What it is is going to work. It’s rolling up your sleeves every day and going out to work to improve your skill level. That’s what the young man has done. Obviously he needs to go do it in a game. I think he will. I’m looking forward to watching him play this weekend.
Q: What did you learn watching Raiders offense last year, the QB?
Jackson: No, I’m not going to say. I think it’s everything. I don’t think it was the quarterback, I don’t think it was the offensive line. I think more than anything, last year was last year. When I came in and took a peek, I said the most important thing I told the staff and players, whatever has gone on here in the past really doesn’t matter to me. It’s what we do from this point on and they’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do. They’ve worked hard. I’ve seen us get better in Dallas, I’ve seen us get better in Chicago last week. It was unfortunate about the turnovers. But I’ve watched this team get better. Everything I’ve asked these young men to do, they’ve done. I try not to go back to what has happened here. That was the most important thing for me when I got here. Obviously I had to take a peek to make a decision about a job, about a situation for myself personally. What I’ve seen is this is a fine, fine organization led by a fine man in Al Davis. We have a good head coach in Tom Cable and I see an opportunity here for us to get the Raiders back on the winning side.
Q: Has the team and offense adopted your style and personality?
Jackson: I sure want them to. I think we’re headed in that direction. There’s no question about that. I think our guys understand. Honestly, we’re trying to build a bully here. We want to go back and take our football team and understand what the Raiders’ tradition is. And I think every player that wears that helmet understands what we’re trying to build here each and every day, and it’s about competing. It’s about going out there every day and being the best at what you do, and I think our guys are taking that challenge.
Q: You and Cable have a history together. Do your styles mesh well?
Jackson: There’s no question. Tom’s one of those old throwback coaches. He likes to get down in the dirt and get after it, and so do I. We kind of do it with a little flair. There’s a flair to what we do. I think our players enjoy it. I think you guys have talked to our players. I think they like the direction we’re heading. That’s the biggest thing. There’s a confidence about this football team. It permeates everywhere. It’s not just our team. It’s in the equipment, it’s in the weight room, it’s with our media people. It’s everywhere. This is a different time in Raider football, and I’m excited about it, and we all are.
Q: Imagine what it will be like when you finally get in the Coliseum . . .
Jackson: I am really looking forward to it. I’ve been on the other side, coaching against them, obviously this past season in Baltimore. I can feel just driving up to the stadium, the fans who are sitting out in the parking lot and how much it means to the fans about winning here and what they know about the Raiders, and that’s what we want to get back to and not (just) for our fans, but for our whole organization. I think it’s so important that we do everything we can as coaches and players to put us back to where we actually belong, among the elite teams in this league.
Q: In that context, how important or not is the exhibition game against the 49ers, the team across the bay . . .
Jackson: Our whole thing is if they’re keeping score, everything’s important. That’s just kind of the way I am. If they’re keeping score, I want to win, and I think that’s the way our players are. We’re going to walk out there, and they’re going to put a ball out there and we’re going out there to play, and we’re going to play to win. We’re not just going out there to play. Any time we take the field and we’re wearing that uniform, that’s what our intention is, to go win a football game.
Q: What is the No. 1 quality you look for in a quarterback?
Jackson: His ability to lead men. I think it’s very important that the quarterback is able to take players and get those guys around him to follow him, to understand exactly what the message is that’s being sent, not just on the field but also off the field. And I think we’ve got four very capable guys, and they’re working at it each and every day, and I feel good about direction that we’re going in.
Q: Any one particular thing right now you can say is the biggest need or area that needs improvement?
Jackson: I think the biggest thing for our football team right now is just game experience with me and them, just us spending time together and them understanding exactly what I’m looking for and how I want it done. And I think our guys are doing that. I really believe that. I’m not just saying it. Our players to a man, it’s been very fun for me. Sometimes you can go places and people put up a stop sign until they get to know you. Our guys have really embraced my attitude and the things that I’m looking for because the bottom line is we want to win, and we expect to win here. And that’s the difference. There is an expectation here. The Raiders are supposed to win. And that is our expectation and that’s what we are going to do.
Q: There are other coaches on the staff (Cable, Ted Toller, Paul Hackett) who have called plays in the NFL. How much do you lean on those guys?
Jackson: I think every staff has strengths. You just mentioned that we have some guys – Ted Tollner, Paul Hackett – who have called plays in the National Football League, and that’s been fun to be able to bounce different things off of them, but, as anything, there’s got to be one leader as you move forward. I do take a little bit from everyone. I talk to Kelly Skipper, I talk to Adam Henry, Chris Morgan. I talk to all of them about what we need to get done, but when it’s all said and done I’m going to make that decision about exactly what we need to do.
Q: How big a role did you play in bringing Boller here?
Jackson: Obviously I have a history with Kyle, but Mr. Davis, when he was able to watch the tape, too, along with me, says, ‘Hey, this guy can play.’ And I know he can. He’s come in and done a good job.”
Q: He was hurt the one year you were together . . .
Jackson: Yeah. Well, that one year we really didn’t get a chance to spend a year (together). We were in the preseason, he did get hurt before we ended up letting him go. Kyle is a tremendous competitor, likes to play and a good young man, and I’m glad he’s here with us.”
Q: What’s it mean personally for you to return to Northern California?
Jackson: Oh my gosh, this is a dream come true for me, to be very honest with you. To have an opportunity to work for Mr. Al Davis – and I’m being very sincere when I tell you guys that – that man is phenomenal. He is a walking football. And I’m being very serious. There is nothing about football that you can’t talk to Mr. Davis about. And you guys talk about a resource, that is one of the biggest resources in our building, is Mr. Davis. And then obviously it flows on. But me being back home, being back in California – I’ve been on the East Cost, I’ve been in the Midwest, I’ve been in the South, there’s nothing like being home. And I want to come back and help restore the great tradition here, and that’s why I took this job because I think it’s a place that’s very special. I think we have special fans, and I think we have a special opportunity here.
Q: How often do you tap into Mr. Davis as a resource?
Jackson: Very often. Very often. Because, again, let’s make no bones about it, this is his football team, and I have a great respect for that. I’ve been with a lot of different owners in the league, the Dan Snyders, the Steve Bisciotti, the gentleman at Atlanta, and they are fine, fine men. But this guy knows as much about football, and he is as sharp about football as any man I’ve ever been around, so to have a resource like that and not be able to use it, I don’t think would be very smart on my part. Just watching how he ran the draft. Again, this is an exciting time in my opinion in Raiders football. We’ve had an outstanding draft, we’ve brought some great players here, and now the leadership puzzle, as Nnamdi has said, is in place, for us to have an opportunity to have something special happen here.