The rest of an interview session with Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, with most of the questions having to do with quarterbacks Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski:
Q: So if you have that latitude will you decide who starts this week?
Jackson: No. Like I said, we have a head coach. Everything I do on offense I do it through with the blessing of Tom Cable. Obviously I think he would ask for my input. He’s going to ask me, ‘ Hue what do (you) think?.’ He’s going to make that decision when it’s all said and done.
Q: Have you given that advice?
Jackson: I told him what I feel and what I think. From there, he’ll take it in. He’s been here longer than I have and I respect his feeling, just like I respect Coach Davis’. I call him `coach’ more so than Al. I call him coach. They have a lot of insight about the inner workings here. My goal is to make sure we put a productive offensive unit on the field.
I don’t care what the situation is, whether it’s the quarterback, whether it’s the running back, whether it’s the tackle, whether it’s the center. That doesn’t matter to me. We’re all paid to perform. Just like I am. I’m paid to perform and to score points. That being said, I think all of our players understand that at any time this is based on performance. It ain’t based on anything else. It’s based on performance and I think our guys get that.
Q: What did you see in Campbell even to ask to make the switch?
Jackson: It wasn’t that I had seen anything particularly in him. It was just that I didn’t like the energy of our offensive football team. Obviously, me being the head of that, I have to make sure … They say that trickle effect, everything kind of flows down hill. It kind of starts with me. The quarterbacks know, and they’ll be the first to tell you, I put more pressure on that room than any room that we have here in this organization because I expect those guys to play and coach and do what they do on the field just like I do.
That being said, I was looking for something that resembled me. At the time, I didn’t see that. I’m just being honest. I’m talking about from our whole offensive unit. When that doesn’t happen I’m going to always try to make the next step to correct that. First I have to correct it with me. Then the next place I’m going to go is the quarterback, then the next place I’m going to go is the offensive line or running back, the receiver the tight end. I’m going to go everywhere to see if I can get it fixed.
Q: Did you risk damaging Campbell ’s confidence by benching him after one and a half games?
Jackson: No, I don’t think so. I would hope not. Let me say that much. This is pro football. Throughout this league, everybody is trying to get a performance on their offensive football team. There’s teams across the league that are struggling. There’s teams across the league that are playing good. But what we all are searching for is to make sure that we have that consistency from play in and play out, to play well. We’re all grown men.
We’re all big boys here. Obviously, people get discouraged, get disappointed. I understand that. I get discouraged and disappointed, too, but the bottom line is, there’s a job to be done. There’s a job to be done and the job has to be done to the best of our ability. Like I said, I’m not beyond suggesting, whether it’s to coach Davis or whether to coach Cable that we make any change if I think it’s going to help us win a football game.
Q: Perception is that Campbell is more stoic, Gradkowski more fiery?
Campbell: That’s what everybody thinks. Jason has that in him, too. That’s why Jason is our starter. I’m not going to say that he doesn’t have that, or that one has it in him more than the other. That’s reflected, that’s what people see. But there’s a fire that burns, there’s a fire that burns in you, there’s a fire that burns in us all. It just comes out differently sometimes. But sometimes you have to make sure that that fire is always stoked and ready to go because of the situation you’re in. We all understand that.
Q: But players respond to different kind of fires?
Jackson: Oh, there’s no doubt. There’s no doubt players do. Like I said, everybody has that in him, and everybody has to find to get that out of him. All of our players, Darren McFadden has been playing with all kind of fire. That’s just what you have to do to play this game on a weekly basis.
Q: How much did the play-calling change with Gradkowski in the game?
Jackson: I heard that said that he came in and I gave him a couple of easy ones. I don’t believe that. I’m always searching for completions for our quarterback. Our offense goes as our quarterback goes, and let that be known. I said that a long time ago, our offense runs through our quarterback. Now, that being said, there’s 10 other guys that got to play effectively for him to play well. He’s just not doing it by himself. I’ve said this before, I put an extra premium on that position because it is what this thing’s all about is, as the quarterback goes our offensive team is going to go, which means our offensive team has a very good chance to be successful.
Q: Who took the majority of the snaps at quarterback?
Jackson: There was no snaps today. All this was is a walk-through. Like I said, you guys are going to know exactly where we’re heading today. I’m sure Tom is going to make sure you guys know. Like I said, whatever decision that is made, it’s what’s best for our team to win.
Q: Will a decision be made today?
Jackson: I would think he would. Like I said, Tom’s the head coach, and he’ll talk to you at that time. I’m sure that he will. He’ll let you guys know exactly what’s going on.
Q: Do you inform the offensive players what’s going on?
Jackson: One thing about our offensive players, I would hope that they all tell you that I’m very honest and straight forward. You guys know me. I can’t hide anything. That’s just not my personality. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I tell our players all the time that I’m always going to be forthcoming and honest but, here’s the deal, I expect the same in return and I expect a performance. Our guys understand that.
Q: Would the QB switch have been made had you not approached Cable at halftime?
Jackson: Oh, I don’t know that. You would have to ask coach Cable. I don’t know that but I would hope that anything that goes on with this offensive football team, I’m going to have my pulse on. That’s what I was hired here to do. Tom is our head coach, and he’s looking at so many different things. Sometimes you can’t see it all or exactly what it is that I’m looking for. I know everybody said, the game was just 7-3, but 7-3, that’s what it was.
But there’s something that I wanted to feel and see and I just didn’t get that at that time. Like I said, we keep centering it just around the quarterback. It was a little bit of everything. The players will tell you that at halftime I had a little eruption because there’s something that I wanted done that wasn’t getting done. In the second half, you guys saw that we were a little different football team. I would hope that it’s because they responded to all the adjustments that were made at halftime, not just the quarterback, but everything in general.
Q: Is there quarterback that fits the offensive line better than the other?
Jackson: I think if I could put myself out there, it would. No, just kidding. No, I don’t think so. I’ve heard it said it’s the line and this guy plays better with that line or that line. I don’t want to get into all that. I think what it is is that, hey, there’s a performance, there’s an execution level that our quarterback has to do consistently, week in and week out.
I think all three of our guys can do it. I’m being very honest when I say that. There’s no question in my mind they can. On that particular day we made a decision and made a change and the guy went in and executed our offense, and that’s all it was and we move forward.
Q: Tom said he wanted to see Jason just let it go. Is it fair to say Bruce did that?
Jackson: I want them all to let it go. It’s fair to say that Bruce did that better than what we did in the first half. I’m not going to say that Bruce let it all go because Bruce would be the first to tell you there’s plays he left on the field. What my disappointment is, one, we’re turning the ball over We’ve turned the ball over now two times apiece in the last two games. That’s not what we’re about. We do not want to turn the football over.
Our guys will tell you that we’re not executing this offense at the level that I want executed. We’re turning the ball over too much. We have too many pre-snap penalties, and I think our guys understand that in order for us to be the type of offense that I want us to be, that my vision is for this organization, we’re not close yet, but we’re headed in that direction and I’m excited about this week.”
Q: Why do you think Jason struggled so far?
Jackson: I don’t know that he’s struggled. I just think the consistency of our offensive unit in general hasn’t been up to the standard that I would like. And like I said, he plays a part in it.
He’ll be the first to tell you that, but the offensive line plays a part, the receivers play a part, the running backs play a part. The whole unit plays a part. I play a part. But the bottom line is we have to do everything we can to just tighten up the screws and cross the T’s and dot the I’s and keep moving forward.
Q: Are you considering making any more changes on the offensive line?
Jackson: You never know. Coach Cable will address everything. I know . . . Like I keep telling you guys, and it’s so important to me because it’s the same thing I preach to our players, we have an expectation, there is a level of consistency on our offense.
Now our goal is to always have one more point than the other team when it’s all said and done, but there is a consistency that we plan to play with. I’m not going to back down from that, I’m not going to turn away from that, I take full responsibility for that. That’s what I’m looking for, nothing more, nothing less, and it doesn’t’ matter who it is. It doesn’t matter who this player or that player is, it’s what’s best for our football team and this organization.
Q: You gained 400 yards for the first time in 76 games but scored only 16 points . . .
Jackson: Oh gosh.
Q: But does that tell you there’s a lot there in terms of piling up yards and if you just clean a few things up you might be on to something?
Jackson: There’s no question.There’s the things that disappointed me, one being the turnovers, two is our inability to put the ball in the end zone consistently. The yards are all fine. We’re not about yards. We don’t really talk about it. The yards are great to have because it means you have opportunity to score points, but our job is score touchdowns. We have an unbelievable field goal kicker, and I love when he trots out there when we don’t make it because he kicks it and he makes it.
But the bottom line is we want to celebrate touchdowns. That’s what we do, that’s what our players enjoy. That’s what they get paid to do, to score touchdowns, the running backs and receivers and tight ends and our quarterback, and that’s what we want to do.”
Q: Is McFadden better than you thought he was?
Jackson: No, he is not better than I thought he was. I have always thought Darren McFadden is a really good football player. I told Darren last week that he was going to carry the ball 30 times. He probably looked at me with surprise. But I told him that, you can ask him, I was very honest with him. That’s what I think our runner has to do.
He has to be able to carry the load. I like to get on a back’s back and ride him. And that’s we did this past weekend. He answered the challenge. I am excited about his start, but by no way is he satisfied with what he’s done. I think he can do more. I think he is leaving runs out there on the field too. He is working his tail off, to make sure he is prepared week in and week out and that’s why I think he is having a lot of success. He is practicing well and then he is taking it to the game and playing well.
Q: What was the problem with the short-yardage running game?
Jackson: One, we got misaligned – that’s something we can’t do. And the other thing is we got beat on a block. The defenses get paid in this league too and they made a play. That’s another area that we need to be better at. There’s two more opportunities in third down, and we were 41 percent on 3rd-down conversions. Heck, we would have been better than that. And that’s what we expect to do.
Q: Why were the receivers so much more involved when Bruce was in the game?
Jackson: (They) should be. We’re a balanced football team. We like to spread the ball around. I don’t think it was because of Bruce or anything. … We also completed one ball to a wideout in the first half.
We didn’t change the play-calling, we didn’t target guys anymore than we did in the first half. It was just the ball started to go there. Defenses sometimes take things away, and they don’t allow you to do certain things. Well, we try to attack people. What we were able to do in the second half was get those guys the ball and they made some plays.
Q: Is Jason more susceptible to getting sacked than Bruce is?
Jackson: No. We do a great job of coaching those guys. Their job is to get rid of the ball, There was one sack taken that was mis-blocked. That wasn’t on the quarterback at all. That guy was on him so fast that there was nothing he could do.
Q: Was that a breakout game for Heyward-Bey?
Jackson: Oh yes. Darrius has worked hard. I was very excited with his performance I and look for him to really grow. I am excited about his future.