By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 6:03 pm in Oakland Raiders.
I’ll break out a few highlights from the Hue Jackson-Al Davis press conference throughout the evening in a series of posts:
– Whoever Hue Jackson brings in as the play-caller will be merely channeling the information to Jason Campbell.
“I’m going to be the primary playcaller, but we’re going to do everything we can to recruit the best staff for the Oakland Raiders,’’ Jackson said. “Obviously the name you just mentioned (Al Saunders) is someone who’s out there that we would love to talk to, but there’s several people that we’re going to talk to. We’re going to do everything we can to put the best staff we can here in Oakland.’’
No surprise there. When Lane Kiffin was hired, Davis expressed his desire to have a coach who called the plays. It obviously was not one of Cable’s strengths, as Davis went into detail about the shortcomings of his former coach.
– It’s been noted in this space more than once that Jackson is the most energetic practice coach since Jon Gruden. And there’s good reason for that.
“The person that really shaped me in football is Jon Gruden,’’ Jackson said. “We were office mates. We were both young coaches, both young, aspiring coaches, we shared an office together and Jon Gruden, I’ll never forget it, used to put me on the board at nighttime for three months straight, and we would talk football. That’s where my start happened.’’
Davis on Jackson’s Gruden-like qualities: “He was like, what’s his name? Gruden. Gruden was like that — feisty, he could lead the defense. But they are different, definitely, Hue Jackson and Jon Gruden.
“But on that particular thing they are very similar. So he must have learned that sitting up their every day, hours at night on the blackboard.”
Good ol’ what’s-his-name.
– Once upon a time, Davis called JaMarcus Russell “a great player’’ and told Kiffin to “get over it.’’
He talked of Russell’s issues for the first time since the former No. 1 pick was released with $39 million of the Raiders’ money in his pocket.
“We had a big investment in this guy. Basically, he’s a good person but he’s got personal problems, and I decided that it was time that we were not going to fight it anymore,’’ Davis said. “ I wasn’t going to. I wasn’t going to ask the coaching staff to do it, and I had already traded for Jason (Campbell) and had that in the back of my mind. We had Gradkowski, who was coming off an injury, who showed some ability to be a quarterback in this league.
“That was the thing with JaMarcus. It hurt us a great deal. But you have to go on. You have to overcome those things, and we almost did this year . . . JaMarcus hurt. Any time you lose a first-round draft choice it hurts. But it’s over.’’
– Jackson on his relationship with Cable: “I’m not going to say there were times I felt I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I think what we did is we did a good job of meshing together what it was here in the past and where we want to go now. I know there were a lot of reports. I’ve known Tom. I just want everyone to know me and Tom worked together. I have a great respect for him as a football coach. What Tom Cable is as a football coach is an exceptional line coach.
“He will go on and do great. I wish nothing but the best for him. All the stuff about the tension between me and him, I didn’t see that. It was reported there was a rift. There was no rift between us. We both wanted to win. Obviously Coach Davis and Tom they gave me a lot of leeway on offense to do what I needed to do. Sometimes we didn’t get it done. We didn’t play like we could play on offense. That was my frustration more than anything.’’
The key sentence in that answer?
“What Tom Cable is as a football coach is an exceptional line coach.’’
– Jackson said he won’t feel the need to re-recruit the roster after Cable’s departure.
“This group of men on the Raider team is excited about the upcoming season,’’ Jackson said. “I haven’t felt like I needed to re-recruit anybody. I haven’t felt like I needed to call anybody other than I normally do. I call guys to see how they’re doing and see how this offseason is doing so far.
“I think our players are excited about what the future is here. Again, we were 6-0 in the AFC West. We know we need to play better outside the AFC West. We’re going to build a bully here. This is the Raiders. We know exactly where we’re headed and what we want to do. I think our players today are very excited about where they are going.’’
More to come later . . .