By Steve Corkran
Monday, September 19th, 2011 at 3:36 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders coach Hue Jackson sees everything as a learning experience, win or lose. So, he seized upon his team’s 38-35 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday as an opportunity to lay down the law about how things are going to work around here on his watch.
In short, Jackson won’t accept anyone playing the blame game, finger-pointing, excuse-making of buying into the long-held belief that there’s a conspiracy theory by the NFL against the Raiders.
“Coach Jackson left the guy wide open,” Jackson said Monday, when asked how the Raiders failed to cover Bills wide receiver David Nelson on the game-deciding touchdown. “That’s it. Guys, look. Like I told you before, we’re going to win as a team, lose as a team. I’m not putting that on no player.
“I’m the head coach of this football team, and we lost. End of story, OK? I’m not pinning anything on one player because it starts with me. I left the guy wide open, in the end zone, and we lost. Fourth down, end of discussion. They won the game, that’s it. We move on from there.”
A short time later, Jackson interrupted a questioner who wanted to know his thoughts on some players pointing fingers at others Sunday for missed assignments and such.
“I believe that is done,” Jackson said. “There is no more frustration. There will be nothing addressed at a teammate anymore. Let me make that very clear. There will be no more addressing players, names, positions, any of that, as long as I’m the head coach here because here’s the deal.
“All that crap about, well, this guy, that guy, you’ve got to look in the mirror first as a football player. Last time I checked, I’m the head coach of this team. They’re the players. Ain’t nobody else going to be commenting on no other position. If they want to comment about themselves, they’re more than welcome to, but we’re done. That is over. Over. Those days are done.”
So are the days about complaining about the NFL having it in for the Raiders in terms of penalties, game times, etc.
“Hear me clearly, I’ve heard all of that,” Jackson said. “Listen, listen. That’s over with. We’re not dealing with that anymore. That’s all crap. Forget what the Raiders have done in the past, and this official and that official and this, that and the other. We lost. Make more plays. Get them stopped on defense. Score on offense. Do what you need to do on special teams and win the game. That’s not what we did.”
Raiders players in the past, as well as fans, have pointed at game officials calling unwarranted penalties. Some past coaches embraced such accusations, which, in turn, allowed the mind-set to permeate the locker room, if not the organization.
Jackson is hell-bent upon having his players play well enough every week to the point where it doesn’t matter how many penalties are called on the Raiders, where they play the game, what time the game starts and what works against them.
“So, this has nothing to do with an official, has nothing to do with a call, has nothing to do with nothing. This has to do with a group of men finishing a football game that they had an opportunity to win, and they didn’t do it. So it’s like anybody else. You start looking for other things. Everybody self-checks everybody else’s stuff before you check your own. So what we’re going to do from here on in is check our own from here on in.
“We ain’t going to get into the officiating game, we’re not going to get into the, this guy, that guy, that position, that position. What we’re going to do, this is coach Jackson’s football team, and this is the way he wants it done. We’re going to work, and we’re going to get better and when we become the team that we want to become, we won’t be having these conversations.”
Got all that? Jackson said he is confident that his players got the message and that things will be different around here from now on.
*For good measure, Jackson criticized himself for throwing the challenge flag on a play that can’t be challenged. That resulted in a 15-yard penalty.
He also faulted himself for the way he used two of his time-outs late in the first half. The Raiders wound up scoring a touchdown on that drive, but the Bills had plenty of time left to march down the field.
Fortunately for the Raiders, Tyvon Branch blocked Rian Lindell’s field-goal attempt on the Bills’ final drive.
“I don’t grade myself an A, by no stretch of the imagination,” Jackson said. “We lose, I lost. There’s some things that I have written down that I need to do better. And I will. I’ll continue to get better and this team will, too.”
*Jackson said the Raiders came away from the Bills game without any major injuries. Rookie cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke suffered a laceration to his left leg, but that doesn’t appear to be too seriouos.
Jackson is confident that he will get back even more players for the Jets on Sunday. Logical candidates to play Sunday are tight end Kevin Boss (knee), wide receivers Jacoby Ford (hamstring) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (knee) and backup safety Mike Mitchell (knee).
Boss felt healthy enough to play against the Bills. However, Jackson erred on the side of caution, and he held him out a second straight game.
*Rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore caught five passes for 146 yards and one touchdown against the Bills.
Jackson wasn’t impressed, he said.
“I guess you guys are in awe by the things he did,” Jackson said. “I’m not. That’s what they’re supposed to do. I’m just being honest. That’s what a real good wide receiver in the NFL is supposed to do; make those kinds of plays. He’s making them. He made them in training camp, and you guys were writing the same thing. He made them in preseason, he’s making them now. I’m not surprised by anything this man does. That’s what receivers do. He’s doing a fantastic job and he needs to continue to do so.”
Just the same, Moore’s impressive showing has earned him the right for more playing time from here on out.
“Oh, boy, you better believe he has,” Jackson said. “There’s no doubt. You can’t deny that one. What the guy’s doing, as I said before, he’s done it in training camp, he’s done it in practice, he’s done it in preseason games and he’s done it in regular-season games. He is as advertised. He made some plays. It’s going to be hard to keep that young man off the field, and he hasn’t been. He’s been one of the active guys, and we’ll continue to fire that.”
Should be interesting to see how Jackson handles playing time among his wide receivers once he has Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey healthy.
*The Raiders dropped from No. 1 against the run to No. 27 after allowing 217 yards against the Bills on Sunday.
The Broncos managed only 38 yards rushing against the Raiders. The Bills surpassed that total on one run by running back Fred Jackson.
*The Raiders were on their best behavior through the middle of the second quarter on Sunday. They made up for it the rest of the way by committing eight penalties for 85 yards,
Through two games, the Raiders have been flagged 23 times for 216 yards, both league-leading figures. Three teams are at 17 penalties. The Arizona Cardinals are second in yards penalized at 158.
“The penalties (aren’t) what lost the game,” Jackson said. “Come on, now, that’s now what lost the game. We were better in the penalty department than we were. It did keep drives alive, no question, but we were better. You got to start somewhere, and we got better.”
The Raiders are on pace for 184 penalties for 1,728 yards, which would set league records. Jackson is encouraged by the progress made in one week, but he admits that there’s still work to do before the problem is under control.
“Now, was there some penalties at some inopportune times?” Jackson said. :Yes. And as I said before, we got to continue to work at it. But we will get better at it. There wasn’t 15, there was eight. So we’re seven better than the pace was the week before. And hopefully we can go from eight down to two, and then we’ll be doing something.”
*If Jackson spoke with managing general partner Al Davis after the game, he wasn’t about to go into detail. Davis did not attend the game, but he likely spoke with Jackson at some point before today’s news conference.
Instead, Jackson addressed his conversations with Davis in general.
“Every conversation I’ve had with coach (Davis) has been awesome, and I mean that,” Jackson said. “Win, lose or draw. We share the same vision. We want to win and we expect to win. When you work here at the Raiders, there’s an expectation of winning. What I have to do is make sure our players understand that, every time we walk out there, that’s the purpose. That we can leave no stone unturned and make sure we finish these football games.”
*The Raiders defense allowed 481 yards to the Bills offense Sunday, and it failed to sack Ryan Fitzpatrick once despite 46 passing attempts.
Jackson said he and defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan are confident that the necessary corrections can be made in short order to solve the issues against the run, the pass and creating consisten pressure.
“No question, there are some things we can do better,” Jackson said. “Our players will tell you there are things they can do better. Our coaches are saying there are things they can do better. And we will.”
The Raiders still had several chances to seal the game Sunday. To no avail. Cornerback Chris Johnson, Branch and middle linebacker Rolando McClain came close to intercepting passes that would have snuffed out drives that resulted in touchdowns.
“We had our chances,” Jackson said. “We got our hands on two balls at the end of that game and didn’t finish. We had chances to get the quarterback down a couple of times, and the guy slips through our hands. That’s what I’m talking about. When we become the team that I envision us becoming, we’ll make those plays. We’re capable of making those plays, and I believe we’ll make those plays in the future.”
*Follow me on Twitter: @corkonthenfl