The Raiders get ready to head to O.co Coliseum for the first preseason game of 2011. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Head Coach Hue Jackson will lead The Oakland Raiders onto the O.co Coliseum field for the first time when the team faces the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason opener. Coach Jackson has felt prepared for this moment for a long time. "I mean I have felt like I have been prepared to do this for awhile," said Coach Jackson. "This is my dream. But when a dream becomes a reality it then becomes work. And I have to turn this work into something special, but it has been a lot of fun and now we are going to get down to business, roll up our sleeves and do what I said we are going to do, go to work. We are going to go to work each and every day and build a championship team here."
While Coach Jackson has more responsibilities as a head coach, much of his routine remains the same. "I am still going to make sure that I talk to our offense tonight about what we need to accomplish, what we need to do, along with Al (Saunders)," said Coach Jackson. "I'm still going to go to the game and work out like I normally do before the game and check my call sheet and make sure it is good to go. I will make sure defensively we are strong on what we need to do and special teams with what we need to do."
His players and his staff are confident in his leadership and have fully committed themselves in what he has been teaching during training camp. "I believe this organization is heading in the right direction," said LB Kamerion Wimbley at the beginning of camp. "We have a coach that I think a lot of the players believe in. He's very energetic. I think he's a promising coach."
Coach Jackson's energy and passion for the game has been the deciding factor for many of the players and coaches' decisions to wear the Silver and Black. "The moment I met Coach Jackson I could feel his energy and that was exciting for me," said TE Kevin Boss. "Within moments of meeting him I felt on board with his ideas and his passion for the game and his energy is really exciting to be around, and I'm just thrilled to be a part of it now."
"He's just a guy that has an infectious personality and I enjoy being around guys like that," said QB Trent Edwards. "I enjoy playing for coaches like that. So that's kind of what sold me here."
The passion for football that Coach Jackson emanates can now be used on the Coliseum sideline. The rookie head coach has been eating, breathing, and dreaming about leading his men during game time. "I have thought about it all," said Coach Jackson. "It kept me up the other night and I didn't go to sleep one of these nights because I was thinking about the red flag. I was thinking about telling them when to kick the field goal or telling them when to punt. I have thought about all of those things, but I have also have been thinking about those things about five years now. So I have played that game in my mind and I am looking forward to it. Bring it on and let's do it."
Thursday's preseason match up will be the first time the current Raiders staff will work together during a real game situation. "This will be the first time that we are going to talk it, walk it, play it, do it, and the whole nine yards, but I think we are going to be well prepared," said Coach Jackson.
The coaching staff has been preparing the team for their first preseason game by instilling a winning attitude. "I want to give our team the best opportunity to have success," said Coach Jackson. "We are not just walking out there to play, we are walking out there with a purpose. I want our guys to get use to when we step out on the field between the lines we are playing to win. I know that everybody is trying to evaluate. Some people use it for evaluation and I do too, we all do, but it is also about winning and I want us to understand that. And when we walk out there, we are evaluating with the purpose of winning a game."
Tomorrow's game versus the Cardinals is Coach Jackson's first game as a head coach, but he is confident and ready to bring back the Raiders Commitment to Excellence on game day.