Raiders coach Hue Jackson says often that he prefers to live his life on the edge, bucking convention, doing things his way and reaping the rewards, consequences be damned.
As evidence, Jackson cited a halfback pass and a reverse on back-to-back plays against the New York Jets on Sunday that.
Running back Darren McFadden gained 27 yards on the first play, wide receiver Denarius Moore netted 23 yards and a tiebreaking touchdown on the reverse.
“A lot of people won’t run reverses like I will,” Jackson said. “A lot of people won’t run a halfback pass and turn around and run a reverse right after that. A lot of people won’t run four arounds in a game. I don’t have that fear of that way.”
Jackson is of the belief that the best way to keep his players happy and to win games at the same time is to make the most of their talents. Hence, rookies such as Moore and Taiwan Jones, second-year player Jacoby Ford, and others already are seeing playing time and touching the ball.
“When you have good players, you give them the ball, you let them make plays for you. That’s why my players enjoy playing for me, because I don’t have that fear.”
Jackson is willing to take chances, he said, because he has trust in his players to make plays.
“I threw the ball from the 1-yard line against Denver,” Jackson said. “I’ll never forget when I called the play. There was complete silence on the headphone. Like, ‘What are you doing?’ Well, hey, lookie here, a 99-yard touchdown. We were that close from having it happen. I just think your players appreciate that when you believe in them, and I do.”
Quarterback Jason Campbell’s deep throw for wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was just off the mark. It wasn’t a complete failure or waste of time. Jackson made his point, to his player, his coaching staff and opposing teams: He isn’t afraid to throw caution to the wind and trust in his players.
It’s a philosophy that Jackson developed from studying the way other coaches functioned at the many places he worked before the Raiders hired him in 2010.
“I guess I see it as living on the edge a little bit because I’ve been places where people won’t do that,” Jackson said. “People won’t make those decisions because, if they do, they can come back to haunt you, too, and we all know that. They truly can.
“But I don’t worry about that. I’ll let you guys write about that. I want the result. Give me the touchdown Denarius Moore ran and give me the 27-yard run that Darren McFadden had, and then we’ll be talking about good things.”
Make no mistake, Jackson isn’t guessing or taking wild stabs when he calls for a reverse, a halfback pass or the Wildcat formation.
Call it educated guessing, playing the odds and knowing the opponent’s tendencies.
“That’s a lot of study on our staff,” Jackson said.
Jackson cautioned people not to make too much of what they saw from the Raiders offense during the four exhibition games. He said he was as simplified with his play-calling as he has been in a long time and that, when the time came, he was going to “open up a can.”
Inside that can, it is apparent, is a dizzying array of play calls designed to keep the opponent guessing and his playmakers in position to make plays.
“I’ll do anything to score a touchdown,” Jackson said. “I’m not afraid, like some people. They’re afraid to call those plays. I’m not. That’s kind of the way I live my life. I like to live on the edge. That’s just the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to be.
“It’s a calculated thought process because I truly believe in my players and I believe they will make good decisions when I call those plays, and they do. … My goal is to always get us to the next down with the ball.”
McFadden and others enjoy Jackson’s derring-do when it comes to play-calling.
“He brings a lot of enthusiasm to the table for us,” McFadden said. “(It’s about) just going out there and just wanting to play hard for him. He puts his faith in us, and we just want show up for him on Sundays.”
Jackson will be there, too, with something else to pull out of his can.
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