By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 at 4:40 pm in Oakland Raiders.
That’s what I called the cooperative early period in a Sunday blog post for first-time head coaches working under owner Al Davis.
In a Fresno-area radio interview Monday night, Hue Jackson took the honeymoon reference after either reading about it or hearing about it and went it one better.
“I’ve been told today that we’re in a honeymoon phase,” Jackson said with a chuckle. “I kind of laugh about that. I’d like for it to be one heck of a marriage, because I don’t see what everybody sees. Obviously, maybe I’m a little different. Maybe I’m a little naive when it comes to things, but I don’t think so. I’ve worked for coach Davis for over a year.
“I’ve started a relationship with him based on honesty, based on what I see, You sometimes tell people what they want to hear. I’m not one of those guys. I’m not built that way. I’m going to tell you how it is and if it’s good enough, it’s good enough, and if it’s not, it’s not, and I think that’s where respect comes from.
“He tells me what he sees. I can tell him what I see and then it works together.”
The answer went on much longer as Jackson extolled Davis’ virtues as a rare owner that actually knows and understands football.
The entire transcription of Jackson’s interview with Alexan Balekian and Lorenzo Neal (who played in Baltimore when Jackson was the quarterbacks coach) on KMJ (580-AM) is below.
Jackson didn’t break any new ground, dodging the question of whether the Raiders would run a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense and avoiding the possibility of tampering by noting Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco currently play for another team and talking up the Raiders’ young talent at the position.
When asked by Neal about the lack of a proven wide receiver, Jackson launched into a long answer about the offensive skill players which did include this interesting snippet:
“What I try to do is put them in a position to be successful. Darren had a sensational season, obviously, Jacoby Ford came on and had a good year, Louis Murphy had a good year, Zach is solid and even Darrius Heyward Bey made stride this season.”
Even Darrius Heyward-Bey.
TRANSCRIPT OF HUE JACKSON ON KMJ (580-AM) IN FRESNO
Hosts are Alexan Balekian and Lorenzo Neal
Neal: Take is through the process, what you’re thinking, looking at, lot of Raiders fans in central valley . . .
Jackson: I’m so excited about this opportunity to lead this organization. Obviously, it was a process that started over a year ago, me coming here in late January, and watching the team on offense improve, obviously, coach Davis decided to go in a different direction and I got an opportunity now to lead this organization. There’s a lot of good players here, and what we’re trying to do is obviously put more good players on our team so we can reach that ultimate goal.
Balekian: Your first reaction when Davis decided to let Tom Cable go? Some players came out in defense of Cable . . . your first reaction?
Jackson: Honestly, I was surprised. But I was preparing for my interview in San Francisco at the time. I’ll never forget, I was coming back from Kinkos, having some stuff run off that I needed to take to San Francisco, and all of a sudden I got a call saying that his option wouldn’t be picked up and he was going to be let go. My mind, honestly, I was disappointed for Tom, I thought Tom worked as hard as he could last year, did a great job of leading our team, but I was also excited about my opportunity of going to San Francisco and interview for the job. Obviously I heard all the things that were said, obviously I think players are disappointed when someone they’ve been with has been let go. Obviously there was momentum being built from last season. But you’ve got to have that big vision of what you’re really trying to accomplish. We all know that this whole thing we do in football is not about being in second place, third place. You want to be in first place and obviously coach felt like thought we had some players and some things to do that and we didn’t get it done this past season.
Balekian: As a follow up, if Jim Harbaugh wasn’t offered the job and you were No. 1 for the Niners and the Raiders, which one would you have taken?
(Much laughter by all three parties)
Jackson: Aw, come on, that’s not fair. The Raiders job. Are you kidding me? Silver and black all the way, baby.
Neal: Looking at team, free agents, how do you prepare with labor agreement hanging in limbo moving your team moving forward? How do you keep guys on course with ample amount of free agents?
Jackson: A lot of teams have this situation. Maybe we have a few more than others. But trust me, there’s a plan in place. One thing I think we all know about coach Davis. He’s going to make sure that there’s good players that we put out there, and I know that without any shadow of a doubt, that we’re going to put the best team out there that we can. Obviously, no one knows exactly what way the CBA is going to go, but I’m very very confident in our process and how we go about maintaining our players and how we go about getting better players. Obviously, we want to keep the guys that we want to keep, and obviously I hope we can keep ‘em all. But we know in this day and age in the NFL it doesn’t work that way. Obviously, there’s some tough decisions to be made. We’ll make ‘em and we’ll move forward.
Neal: Being with you in Baltimore, you could see Flacco missed you this year, Cam Cameron said he missed you, you were in that league with a 3-4, with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, you thinking about changing this defense, stay with the 4-3 or with the 3-4? What do fans have to look forward to on that defense?
Jackson: This is what they can look for, Lorenzo. This is no question what we need to get done. No. 1, we’ve got to stop the run. I mean, we all know that. There’s no question about that. No. 2 is we’ve got to get the quarterback on the ground. I mean, and I mean get the quarterback on the ground as fast and as hard as we can. That’s what the Raiders were built on, and obviously we need to go play better. We have the nucleus to have a very good defensive football team, Richard Seymour, obviously, Matt Shaughnessy, Rolando McClain, Kamerion Wimbley, Tyvon Branch, I mean, it goes on and on and on on that side of the ball. What I’m in the process of doing is making sure I put together the best defensive football staff that I can, and we’re going to go out, rollup our sleeves and coach this defensive football team as hard as we can give ourselves the best opportunity to have success on Sundays.
Balekian: You played musical chairs with Gradkowski and Campbell, Gradkowski hurt, Campbell finishes season, in your eyes right now is Campbell your No. 1 quarterback?
Jackson: No question. I mean, there’s no question he is. The guy won some very important games. The guy played hurt. The guy got to know his teammates, rallied his team, and finished very strong. He helped us win, obviously, every game in our division, there’s no question he is definitely the unquestioned starter on this football team at this point. But I think he knows without any shadow of a doubt, there’s work to do, and we have to do a great job of surrounding him, putting better players around him so he can go out and be the quarterback that we all know he can be.
Balekian: You talk about Super Bowl, we’re going back forth, Lorenzo likes Big Ben, I like Aaron Rodgers, who do you like one game, Super Sunday, Big Ben, or Aaron Rodgers?
Jackson: Both of them are very talented players. There’s no question about it. Aaron Rodgers has had a sensational season and obviously has led his team to the Super Bowl. But when you play Pittsburgh, I mean, obviously it starts with Ben Roethlisberger, but then Dick LeBeau, what he does over there on defense is second to none and I know two years ago they played and both teams scored a lot of points with Pittsburgh ending up winning late. So I think it’s going to be a very close game, but I would have to go with the Steelers in this one. They’ve been one of the best teams all year. They have some very talented players, their quarterback, he’s a winner, a guy that finds a way to win games and that’s what you look for.
Balekian: Many fans in Central Valley, we got calls, people saying, Al Davis has had it, he’s done, he’s an owner that maybe needs to pass the torch . . .
Jackson: Nooo, let’s stop that right now. That’s not even close.
Balekian: Let me ask you, in your talks with Al Davis, is he all there, every time I see him he’s calling out his ex-coach, whether it’s Tom Cable or Lane Kiffin . . .
Jackson: I’ve been told today that we’re in the `honeymoon phase.’ I kind of laugh about that. I’d like for it to be one heck of a marriage, because I don’t see what everybody sees. Obviously, maybe I’m a little different. Maybe I’m a little naive when it comes to things, but I don’t think so. I’ve worked for coach Davis for a year. I’ve started a relationship with him that’s based on honesty, based on what I see. You know sometimes people tell people what they want to hear. I’m not one of those kind of guys. I’m not built that way. I’m going to tell you how it is and if it’s good enough it’s good enough, and if it’s not, it’s not, and I think that’s where the respect comes from. He tells me what he sees. I can tell him what I see and then it works together and there’s no time with coach that I think, everybody has these thought processes, and un-thoughts about what he is and what he isn’t. This guys knows football. He knows the running game. He knows the pass game. He understands how to get the run game stopped. He understands how to get the pass game stopped, and I think people would be surprised if they could sit down with him and really talk football with him, and find out what he’s thinking, I think you’d be surprised, because he probably has forgotten more football than most people know. I don’t subscribe, and not because I work for him, or I’m his head coach, I know people will say, `Well, that’s why you say what you say,’ No. I say this because I know I work with the guy each and every day and I know what he’s trying to accomplish. I think we all do. It’s no different with you and your business. You want to be the best at what you do, and all he’s trying to do is win, and that’s all you can ask for, and I think he would do whatever it takes within the rules to give his organization the best chance to win.
Neal: Watching your offense, not having a go-to receiver, not having a big-time proven guy in the NFL who can catch the ball, not having a great offensive line, what was turning point and when did you know this offense would be able to score like they did against San Diego, Kansas City on limited talent?
Jackson: You know, what Lorenzo, I think it goes all the way back to when I first got here. You evaluate the players for what they do well, and you try to keep them out of situations where they don’t do things well, obviously. So when I got here, there was a core group of players, the Zach Millers, the Darren McFaddens, the Robert Gallerys, the Louis Murphys, obviously Jacoby Ford came on and had a heck of a season for us, the Michael Bushes, the Cooper Carlisles, that I wanted to know what it was they thought that we did well and obviously you go back and watch the video tape and then it became a mixing and matching of systems, between the system of which they had been in and the system I’m accustomed to running, and as you see, we did a lot of multiple things with this football team. What I try to do is to put them in a position to be successful, Darren had a sensational season, obviously, Jacoby Ford came on and had a good year, Louis Murphy had a good year, Zach is solid, even Darrius Heyward-Bey made strides this season. It was all about getting the environment right in my opinion for our players to have success, was running the ball or throwing the ball, and then you’re able to bring in a guy like Jason Campbell who’s very steady, who really works at his craft and it’s very important to him. Then all of a sudden it gets infectious. You start playing well, guys start believing what you’re selling, and the next thing you know you look up and you’re playing decent on offense. I’m not going to tell you guys we’re anywhere close to where we’re going, by no stretch of the imagination. But I think the process has started on both offense and defense. Now it’s a matter of getting these players back, feeling good, and taking the momentum that we had last season and let’s go move forward.
Balekian: I see Raiders not only making playoffs, but with T.O. and Ochocinco in the Black Hole . . . can fans expect this?
Jackson: I don’t know about that, but what they can expect is that those young players that we have are going to get better and they’re going to play well. That’s what I know they can expect. I know both of those young men that you just mentioned, they’re fabulous players in their own right, but they play for another team, and we have some good players here and we’re going to coach them and continue to get these young me better.