Here is what Raiders coach Hue Jackson had to say Monday at his weekly news conference, one day after his team beat the Chicago Bears 25-20:
“Let’s get this bad boy over with. Oh, wow. Ooh. So, the Lakers are going to be playing soon, and the Warriors. Basketball season’s going to be around the corner now, get a chance to see a couple of games here pretty soon – Christmas Day. What we got today?
Any injury updates?
No, obviously, I won’t know more about guys’ injuries until tomorrow, really till Wednesday till we get ready to practice. I think we’re getting closer to getting some guys back. Which I think will really help our football team. Again after yesterday’s win I’m very excited about a lot of different things I think we’re doing well. The most important thing I think is like I said we won at home. I think that’s important in front of that sold-out stadium to win for our fans, win for the football team, for the hard work that these guys are putting in and obviously to keep pace in our division on top of the AFC West. And also to score in the fourth quarter because I’ve heard it from everybody here sitting in this room so we’ve gotten a couple of streaks broke. I was excited about that when it’s all said and done. And obviously just to get the win I was real elated about that, to be 7-4 at this point in the season, 11 games into it with five more to play with an opportunity to control our own destiny is like I said before is all you want. It’s the position you want to be in but this team is working hard, they’re grinding through things. I think it’s one of the characteristics of a championship football team that you gotta do – sometimes you just gotta put your head down and just keep working and that’s what these guys are doing.
When does it say when you can win a game when your running game is not at its best?
I think we’re growing. We’re growing in the passing game. Obviously, our quarterback he’s had three I think – what has he played five games now? – three in five where he’s been either above 300 yards or close to it. This guy’s a proven passer, he knows how to throw the ball and he’d be the first to tell you there’s throws that normally are layups for him that he needs to get better at too, but at the end of the day I think we’re growing all across this football team. What we need to do is still put a complete game together where we’re playing from the first snap to the last snap and when we do that we’ve got a chance to be a scary group of players.
Did you come out of that game with any new injuries or was it status quo?
No, the only guy was McClain. Obviously, he went back into play so I think we walked out of there feeling pretty good about our health. Again we evaluate today and tomorrow and there’s nothing new today and hopefully there will be nothing new tomorrow. Hopefully, we get some of those guys off that list here pretty soon and get them back out there to playing.
Is the penalty problem fixed?
It’s never fixed. What I think that was was a start. It’s a start into the new Raiders. I’m going to term it that way because I think it’s very important down the stretch that we play as a very intelligent football team. We have to take care of that issue. We know it’s an issue. The team does. They did a better job yesterday but there’s still a lot of work to be done in that area also.
Q: Could actually see guys pull back near sidelines to avoid appearance of a late hit, when you see that, think maybe starting to get through?
Jackson: Yes, it does. When you emphasize something as much as we do or have, you’re looking for the result at the other end, and like you said, sometimes it’s in the way a player reacts, and maybe its in what a player does, too, just in the heat of battle, and I think our guys recognize that it’s something that’s hurt us, not helped us, that we do have to play with a little more focus from an intelligence standpoint when it comes to doing things that could cost a football team. And yesterday, one penalty at halftime, I think that was a good start, and obviously, we got five after halftime that we need to continue to address and get better at.
Q: Holding always stop, but no personal fouls . . . that a good sign?
Jackson: It is. But some of the other things are technique fundamentals that we continue to work at and harp on and get better at, but as long as our players stay focused in the things I think are the major penalties, the personal fouls, the self-inflicted wounds, the jumping offsides, the illegal procedures, which we had a couple, I think we have a chance to solve some of this issue.
Q: Growing as a football team, how close are you to the ideal goal, or how distant?
Jackson: I think until we get healthy, until we can get some of the key players back on this football team, can you truly grow and become all you can become. Now, do I think from a mentally tough standpoint, do I think we’re learning how to grind these things out when games are tough, I truly believe that. This team is not going to blink, I don’t care what we play, who we play, I think we understand that. What we gotta do now is just that finishing touch that, when you gotta a team now you gotta make sure you finish the game the right way and not give another team new life. We know how to do it, we just gotta get it done.
Q: Darren, Jacoby closer coming back, Darren light workout, target date or day to day . . . said didn’t want ‘em at 70 pct?
Jackson: I don’t want to do any injury by degree or percentages or anything. I think when the player is ready to play I’ll know, because he’ll be ready to go at full speed and obviously the player you mentioned, Darren, we gotta get his conditioning back first and foremost and Jacoby obviously we’ve got to get his conditioning back. I’m not going to rush any of those guys back, do we need ‘em and want ‘em back, as fast as we could get ‘em? We wish we had ‘em yesterday, but at the same time we’ve got to make sure they’re healthy enough to play at a very high level because they’re very good players, and good players play when they’re comfortable and they’re healthy and they can go. I’m not going to push ‘em, but I think they’re closer to getting back than they are to not getting back.
Q: Were there lessons learned, first two years Darren was here, tried to play through some things and wasn’t the player he was last year, was something learned from that by Darren or organization?
Jackson: I’m sure there were, but this is kind of the way I feel about it, because I don’t feel you can play this game of pro football at a high level, and I think there’s a difference between injured and being hurt. I truly do. I think a lot of guys play when they’re injured, and this is a tough sport, and there are some guys that can do that. But when a guy’s hurt you’ve got to be careful about putting a player out there because you can hurt a player more than you can help ‘em, which ultimately hurts your football team, so I never want to do that. We’re just going to continue to work at it. I’m excited by some things I saw today, along with you guys, but there’s nothing that says, here we’re ready to go this week or anything like that. We’ll just keep monitoring this thing day to day and go from there.
Was that new for Darren, the light workout and walking around?
“I think that was huge. I think that’s a step in the right direction.”
At this point do you after a game go in and check the opposing scores, see what Denver does and San Diego or do you just worry about yourselves?
“I have to worry about this football team. I think that’s the most important thing. Do I know what’s going on around the league? Yes. But do I run in and check to see? No. I don’t want to play that game. What I want to do is every day that I can help this team get better, focus on that with this coaching staff and these players. We need to continue to get healthier, we need to continue to get stronger, and we’ve got to finish strong down the stretch. There are some real tough football games that we still have to play. There’s five of them, and we’re going to take them one at a time, and this next one’s in Miami, and contrary to what their record is, this is a good football team that we’re playing, and we understand that.”
What are the keys for your players to handle success? It’s a different type of season. There will be a lot of playoff questions starting to come and things like that.
“Firstly, we have to stop reading the hype. We have to stay away from the media. That’s what we have to do. You guys are going to write a lot of things, and I’m going to say a lot of things to you that hopefully you guys will write for our players because I think it’s really about us focusing on what we need to do. It’s not about any of the hype that people will talk about. It’s about us playing well. It’s about us continuing to get better and grow as a football team. It’s about us getting better in all the things that we need to improve in – the penalty issue, taking care of the ball, getting the ball from the other team and being able to run the ball. We have to continue to get better in those areas because the teams that are going to play later on in January are the teams that accomplish those goals as they head down the stretch.”
Richard Seymour said that it’s easier for guys to pay attention to detail when they know how much is on the line. Is that something you see in guys at this point in the season?
“It’s been a while since this team maybe has been in this position, so I’m going to say, as the head coach, this is what I expect. I expect our players to pay attention to detail and to be on top of everything we do. So I don’t see any more focus than what I had been seeing, but what I see is a sense of urgency of this team to get it right, to make sure that we’re doing everything we can the right way to get healthy, to work with a purpose and to continue to listen and stay open. Part of this thing in coaching is men believing in what you’re selling. And what we’re selling is a tremendous opportunity here to do something special. And I think our guys understand what’s at stake and they’re working at it right now like I’ve never seen. But this is all I’ve seen as a head coach, so it’s what I expect.”
Q: You guys have been finding ways to stop teams in the red zone lately….what’s the difference?
A: I think the players are doing a good job of not being denied what they want. They don’t want to give up a score. We’ve given up some that in our terms have been kind of cheap scores here and there where we didn’t do what we were supposed to do. And I think players understand if we just do our job and take care of our business that we’ve got a chance to get teams stopped. I’ve said before this I think this defense has the makings to be really special, really good. And we’re not there yet but I’ll tell you what these guys are working at it each and every day. There’s some special players on that side of the ball and they’re playing hard and we’ve got to continue to play hard. It’ going to take everything they’ve got down this stretch to get done what we’re trying to get done.
Q: How much has Aaron Curry impacted the defense?
A: He’s been outstanding. Just his energy, his professionalism, his character. How he comes to practice, how he comes to work everyday as a pro has been outstanding. And not that the other guys didn’t. this guy plays the game, in my opinion, the way it’s supposed to be played. With some toughness and some aggression and some enthusiasm. And I love that about him and I love what he’s doing. And I think he’s truly impacted our defensive football team. But there’s also 10 other guys that I think have raised their level of play and have started to play the way we can play. And I think if you put that all together then you’ve got the chance to have the makings of a pretty good defense.
Q: Any reason why Bruce Campbell isn’t active, playing?
A: No, it’s not any particular reason. We’re not going to dress eight linemen, I think you get caught in the numbers crunch a little bit. I just think he got behind in training camp. and I think when you start into the season it’s hard to make up that time. Once solidfy who those guys are it’s kind of hard to break in. just like when he’s sitting in the room, the guy who has that job is looking over there saying I’m not letting you in neither because people know once he gets in he’s probably going to be there for a long time. But obviously Coop’s done a good job. Khalif Barnes has done a good job so far this season. Again he’s going to have his opportunities as he continues to work and get better. He’s just got to stay healthy and he’s healthy now. But we’ll find out what he is in time.
Q: Yesterday’s rushing total deceiving?
A: I thought so. The quarterback the last couple weeks has gotten quite a few rushing yards against or team. But we don’t really get caught up in the stats. I get caught up in what it looks like and I know who was making the rushing yards for that team, it was the quarterback. And we do have to do better against some quarterbacks who have the capability of running just because that’s what teams are going to do because people know we are loading up to stop the run. So we’ve got to continue get better in some areas. There’s some things we can do a little bit better in that area and we will.
Q: In this copycat league you see anyone stealing what you do with Marcel Reece?
A: I think it’s hard to because I don’t think there’s too many Marcel REeces in this league because he’s different. He can play, he probably can play three or four different spots on a football team. He’s so valuable because he has that ability to move around. He can run with the ball, he can catch it, he can block. You can line him up at different places so he’s a matchup nightmare for most teams. But you have to have that kind of skill to be able to do that and I think that kind of guy is kind of hard to find in this league
Marcel not a huge blocker, but gotten better?
Tremendously better. I think Kelly Skipper has done a great job. When he started off, he was a receiver that was trying to play fullback. He continued to grow and last year when I was here, he earned it. He went and did it. He went and wanted to stick his face in there and got better at it, didn’t shy away from it. I think the biggest thing that has happened to Marcel this year is just the injury. Once he got hurt, he was out for a while. So it kind of puts you behind a little bit. You come back, you gotta continue to grow in that area. I think he would tell you that that’s his biggest emphasis, that he wants to become the blocker that he needs to become for this football team.
What does it say about Seabass that he has made 17 of 18 field goals while playing hurt?
He is a pro. He wants to win. As I said yesterday, I can’t say enough about either one of those guys. Shane or Seabass. They are tremendous pros. Shane is definitely someone I lean on and talk to about this team. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day if he got into coaching. He is very good at what he does. Seabass, playing here with the Raiders means a lot to him. And they’re tremendous leaders for this football team. So, him making 17 of 18 doesn’t surprise me, because he wants to win. And I think the guy is that good, I really do. We’re very fortunate here to have two of the best here, doing what they do. I would take out guys over anybody. Any day, any time anywhere. They’re really that good.
Play of Lechler and Janikowski a testament to Al Davis using draft picks on them in 2000?
Absolutely. I keep telling you guys that Coach did a tremendous job. What he … the opportunity he left me here with, I mean, there are a lot of people who would want this opportunity to coach this football team. A lot of good players on this team. I keep saying the time is now. And I think these guys are starting to get it and buy into it. They can be as good as they want to be. It’s the Shane Lechlers, the Janikowskis, it’s the Coops, it’s the Tommy Kellys, it’s those guys who have been here, who have been through a lot of the hard times that are going to be the guys who help get this thing back on top.
How much of a challenge Miami? Playing well, 10 days off?
It does, it does (make for a tougher assignment). If we’re going to be the team that we want to become, we have to pack a good team and go on the road and play good football. We know how to do it, the players look forward to going on the road and playing. It will be a tremendous challenge and we’ll start preparing for it Wednesday. We’ll get ready.
You gushed about Tyvon Branch early on and now he is playing at a high level. What did you see?
I think he is a big-time football player. I think he is tenacious, relentless, he tackles and he tackles with his face, he finishes everything he does, he loves football, he studies the game. You don’t see a lot of guys like him that are full-speed football players all the time. I don’t think he gets enough credit. I keep saying it. I think this guy is one of the best players at his position in the league. I just think people don’t know it, because we don’t highlight that position here. But he has had a tremendous season, and if you really had a chance to watch the tape and study the tape, I think No. 33 would jump off the film. He is having a heck of a season.
Q: Is Branch having a Pro Bowl-caliber season?
A: “In my opinion, he is. There’s a lot of players on this team that are having Pro Bowl seasons, but I can’t be the judge of that. Somebody is going to judge that. But I like my players. I like what our players are doing. I like what they’re becoming, is what I should say. We’re not there yet but we’re going to get there.”
Q: Did your offensive line struggle vs. the Bears or is its play a product of the quality of the opponent?
A: “We didn’t play as well as we can play, and we were playing a really good front. But we can play better. I expect that we will, and we can. It wasn’t Raider-like yesterday, but we’ll get back to the grind and get this thing back to where it needs to be.”
Q: How did Veldheer hold up vs. Peppers?
A: “Hello, Jared. Hello, Jared. This is life in the NFL. There’s Jared Allen and here comes Julius Peppers. And here comes Cameron Wake this week. It doesn’t change. You’re just changing jerseys. There’s so many good players in this league that you have to rise up. You can’t take a breath. When you’re taking a breath, you’re getting beat. That’s just the way this league is. Again, that’s the growth of a young player, from game to game, just the consistency of playing as hard as you can play and as well as you can play. Not that our guys don’t play hard because our guys do. But the consistency from week in to week out to play in to play out, man, you got to make sure that you’re on top of your game at all times because you’re playing against the best of the best in this league.”
Q: How is Jason Campbell coming along? Throwing?
A: “Yeah, he has been pitching it around a little bit. Not very far, but he’s pitching it around a little bit and he’s getting better. So, we’ll see where he is here soon, too, and we’ll just keep finding out about all these injured guys as we move forward.”
Q: Is Campbell the No. 2 quarterback when he returns to full health?
A: “Let’s see when he gets back.”
Q: What do you need to do to get guys to understand importance of these games?
A: I would hope that I put so much pressure on this football team that that won’t be pressure. That really isn’t the pressure. The pressure is among your teammates of making sure you do your job and play as well as you can play and you’re accountable to each other from player to player, from player to coach, from coach to player. We’re not going to get caught up in the pressure game. The pressure is us and what we decide to make it. We know what is at stake. We know what every week means. The only way to ever attain these goals is to keep winning but you have to work to win. You have to go out there and you got to win games and the only way to do that is to prepare and then go play as well as you can play. I think our guys understand that. It’s not about pressure, it’s about work. We just want to go to work and keep our head down and keep going.
Q: What did you see in Giordano to bring him in during training camp?
A: He wound up here by us in training camp needing a couple of safeties. We brought in him and I forget the other young man we brought in (Josh Bullocks). He did a great job at training camp. I told you even at the cut that I really hated to let him go. But at that time we couldn’t keep him. But I told him and he told me he’s be back. I knew he would be. I just didn’t know when, how or where. But he did and he came back and he is very good at what he does for this football team. He plays hard, plays well, gets everybody lined up, very smart. Another one of those guys who plays intelligently to help this team be all it can be so he was a find for us. Again our personnel department brought him in and gave us a chance to work him out. I’m glad he’s on this team. He’s done a tremendous job also.
Q: Ball seems to find Giordano?
A: I hope it continues to find him. I hope he keeps catching them and giving us more interceptions. He’s done a great job. I’m glad he’s here and he’ll continue to keep doing what he’s doing.
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