Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Coach Jackson: I'm tired, excited, very happy about obviously getting a win against a division team and getting off that two-game slide – have an opportunity to be in first place. I think it's exciting for our football team. I think we understand where we are. Like I said last night, we're not going to get too high on this deal. We're a 5-4 football team, one game over .500, and there's so many things we can get better at. I know we will; we can and it's just work. We've got a lot of work to do and we'll continue to keep plugging at this thing, but I was very excited for our football team. The thing I'm most excited about – this team doesn't blink. We've had all kinds of challenges presented to us this year in terms of losing guys for this game, that game, but the players – and again, I give a lot of credit to my staff and to players -- they just find a way to keep going. Most teams, if you look at some of the guys we've lost, would turn it back, curl up and call it a year but not this football team. That's not how we're built and we're the Raiders, we're in Coach Davis' vision, and we're going to keep playing and we're going to play as hard as we can play.
Q: Talk about the importance of just getting a victory and kind of stopping the bleeding and not letting some of that negativity that's been surrounding everybody…
Coach Jackson: See, everybody thinks there's been negativity; I don't. I know losing breeds that. I know people start saying things; I hear things that get said but I never felt that in our locker room. I never felt that with our football team, then I would have had a concern. I know everybody else was concerned; I wasn't. What I wanted to do was just make sure that we just kept working and just keep your head down. You hit these kinds of slides in seasons sometimes where things just don't go right, but I had a good feeling why things weren't going right and think that's the difference. I think if you can't put your hand on it, if you don't know what's going on with your football team, then you can't fix it. We were able to get the ship righted pretty quickly and again, it's a tribute to the players, to the staff, to everybody involved with this football team because we have faith and we know what we're trying to do.
Q: Did you go into that game thinking you were going to give it to Michael [Bush] 30 times?
Coach Jackson: You know honestly, I thought I was going to get it to Michael as many times as I think it took to win the game. If it meant 50 times, I would have handed it to him 50 times. When we walked into the game; I'm sure those guys will tell you, I scripted the openers and the openers didn't say, 'Run the ball 30 times to Michael Bush.' It says be balanced and be diverse but when you stand out there – and that's the beautiful part about having been the coordinator here and the play-caller. When you stand out there and look at your team against another team, and you see the line coming off the ball and you see the velocity of the back, you get a good feel for what's going on. I don't know that you can see that when you're up top behind a glass and when you're down there, you get a real good feel for the game and he was starting to take over the game, and the blockers were taking over the game and the rest is history.
Q: [Stephon] Heyer – I don't know if he played guard before in the NFL before last night or had he?
Coach Jackson: Well, he's practiced with us at guard some. But again, that's a tribute to the young man. He prepared himself, got himself ready to play without much practice, just worked at it during the week and said, 'Hey Coach, if Sammy [Samson Satele] can't go and Wiz [Stefen Wisniewski] goes to center, I want this opportunity. I'm ready for it.'
Q: Did that sway you? Him coming to you and saying that?
Coach Jackson: No, because I'm not surprised that he was. We're playing in a big ballgame and again, he's a veteran player whose been in big games and nothing against Joe Barksdale because Joe's done a really good job playing his role on our football team. But, I just felt it was time to put a little more veteran presence out there and he did. He did a fantastic job.
Q: Coach, speaking of Wiz, I was very impressed with him because I know he tried center at camp for a while. But even late in the game on those screens, he was well downfield blocking. He didn't seem to get tired at all. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Coach Jackson: He's been tremendous all year. I mean I cannot say enough about him. What an awesome draft pick for us and he's got a big, bright future ahead of him here. He's our starting left guard who can play center, did a fantastic job, didn't blink, moved right over to center, never skipped a beat – I mean that's the thing about this whole team though. We don't get too emotional when we've got to do something different that's out of the ordinary. We just go do it, and he did and did it well last night.
Q: What was it like for him and the whole line to sort of reshuffle like that?
Coach Jackson: It's hard if you make it hard, but that's my point. I don't think this team flinches when something like that happens. It's just, 'Come on, let's go get it done' and that's because I've taken on that mentality. I mean the mentality here is whatever it takes and sometimes whatever it takes hasn't been good enough for us thus far. But, I think the team knows we're not going to ever worry about if somebody can play or somebody can't play. We're going to put somebody in there – it's next man up and let's play but he did a great job of getting the calls, echoing the calls down the line to the rest of the guys, but again, he's been there all year. He's been there since training camp, so he knows what those are and he knew how to get the line directed the correct way.
Q: Any updates on Jacoby's [Ford] status at all?
Coach Jackson: Obviously, I don't know much today. He's still in a walking boot and we'll know more as we move forward. We're going to find out all the different details as he goes and gets checked by other people and find out exactly where he is. Very unfortunate; what a big catch on that play because I think he was about to just really start playing really well. But again, that's the nature of this business. Injuries happen.
Q: How much does the 10 days off now you've got a lot of guys banged up. How beneficial is that basically?
Coach Jackson: It's very beneficial. I told our guys we've got 10 days to get healthy and to get strong because we're in the last run of this thing. We've got seven games left and we've got some real big football ahead of us to play.
Q: The defensive line, even by their own admittance, just had a terrible breakdown against Denver. They seemed to respond last night. Why? How did that happen?
Coach Jackson: They worked at it. We have some veteran players up there who take pride in playing. The Richard Seymours, the Tommy Kellys, the Kamerion Wimbleys, Lamarr Houston who is a young player and I think they were frustrated with the performance of last week. They said it and I think they went into this thing not wanting to let their teammates down. It wasn't so much about all the stuff that's been said about them; more so that when they look across the room at the other guys that they're fighting with that they wanted to make sure that they put the right product out there on the field, and they did that last night.
Q: When you look at the first eight games and then preparing the game plan offensively for last night, did you feel you needed to kind of get back to basics? I know you said you didn't feel you got away from the run…
Coach Jackson: Yeah, I still to this day don't feel that. I mean let's be honest here – we're plugging in people in different spots. We're in a transition people and finding out what's best for this football team as we try to win football games. Everybody talks about the Denver game; we had a chance to win that game, we didn't. We didn't make the plays at the end; the Kansas City game that got away, that kind of got away from us. For whatever the reasons are, it doesn't matter but we have run the ball. We're the number three or whatever we are in rushing, so we don't get away from the run. That is still our foundation, but sometimes, certain teams are not going to just let you line up and run it any kind of way you want to and I think that's the misnomer. Well, you just run it how you want to win you want to – no, it's the National Football League. There'll be some teams that stop you sometimes. What you have to do is create opportunities for your players, as I've always said, to give them chances to be successful and that's what we do. Last night, the chances were created for several different reasons but our scheme, the ability of the line to block, the ability of our quarterback to be a threat in the passing game – I mean running the ball, there are a lot of factors that go into it but you've got to know how to do it and do it consistently.
Q: You had Stanford Routt following Vincent Jackson around, which hasn't been done a lot here. What was your thinking in having him move around and stick on Vincent?
Coach Jackson: Well, you take your best corner and you try to put him on their best player. I mean Stanford had some plays last night that I'm sure he wishes he had back, but for the most part, I think Vincent caught one ball. Again, I think for the most part, Stanford did a good job and I expect to him be one of the best corners in this league. That's the expectation of him. We should be able to put him on whoever we want to put him on and say, 'Stanford, go get it done.' So, he did a good job. There are some other plays that he needs to continue to get better at and grow from, but again, I think Chuck [Bresnahan] did a good job of devising a plan and giving those guys an opportunity to go out, and play and have success on defense.
Q: Hue – there was talk to help Carson along, some of his terminology when he played in Cincinnati was brought in. How much of that is true and if it's true, how much of it was brought in?
Coach Jackson: Well, let me say this – I know that's the feeling. We've always had a no-huddle offense here. What we've done is I've bridged the gap for him. That's my job is to make sure he can go out there and play well, so we didn't really take the terminology. We've kept our terminology; just the system and how we go about it is a little different and I think that's what the players see – that it was a little different. There was a little learning there for a second that we had to go through, but I think the offense is growing. I think you guys can see the offense is really starting to be what I envisioned it being. Whether it's running or throwing the ball, we're getting better and we'll continue to grow with this quarterback as we continue to go forward. But, this is the Raiders offense; this is not Cincinnati's. What was done in Cincinnati is in Cincinnati. This is the Raiders and we plan on getting this thing right.
Q: Is he more comfortable no-huddle or is that something he really liked?
Coach Jackson: I think he likes it. I think he likes anything though. He likes to score points; that's what Carson's about but he's in command in those situations and we kind of do it together. But he does a fantastic job of it because he has a rhythm about himself, what he does, and how he gets us in and out. But, we have about five different tempos of offense that we can play at whether we huddle or don't huddle, whatever we do. So, there's a lot that goes into it but he is definitely the conductor of it.
Q: Last night – [Terrelle] Pryor in street clothes again and I guess [Shane] Lechler third string. If everybody stays healthy, do you foresee it being like that for the rest of the year so you get that extra player it's just basically a learning year for Terrelle?
Coach Jackson: Well, you never know. I mean trust me, I would love to get Terrelle Pryor playing a little bit. I mean I think the experience for him would be great, but I can't do it at the expense of another position that might be something very important to our team. He's a very competitive young man, he's very talented; I think he has a bright, bright future ahead of himself. The guy works his tail off. I mean, he does everything you ask of him and more. So I'm excited about what he is going to become, but right now, all of our practices is dictated by who we play. So, you don't get a chance to work from A-Z with him right now. You're into game week real quickly, but he has grown leaps and bounds. Would I love to play him at some point in time? Yeah. Is it going to stay like it is, like it's been lately? I don't know. We are going to take it week to week and see how it goes.
Q: How tough of a decision is it to keep playing [Sebastian] Janikowski, when he is clearly not himself right now? He is popping up the kickoffs, you get down to the 36 and ordinarily, that's a play where you might kick a field goal, and you try the fake punt. So, it must be you have to think about that one pretty hard -- do we have to bring another kicker for this game or do we just try to get by with what we can do?
Coach Jackson: Well, I think we had a plan once we made a decision that he was playing a week ago to get him to this point because now we have got a good stretch of time to where we can possibly get him totally healthy. But again, he wants to be out there with his teammates. Again, I have to make the right decision for the football team, one that doesn't cost us, because a half of Janikowski might be as good as most in this league in my opinion. So I'm not going to put him in a situation where he hurts himself, but we're also not going to not let him go out there and kick when he wants to compete and play. So, he has done a good job. I mean he made the field goal, he kicked the ball, we had some bloop kicks, he kicked one out they couldn't get, but I think we've got a chance to get him healthy and get him back up to being 100 percent or close to it, and I think the plan has worked.
Q: Has Carson's ability to throw the deep ball – he has had a lot of success the last couple of weeks; the deep passes. How much does that open up the running game and help everything else on offense?
Coach Jackson: I think it all goes hand in hand. I think when you have the ability to run the ball, then people have to stop the run which gives you a chance to throw it and when people decide to stop you from throwing the ball, it gives you an opportunity to run it. I think that's the threat of having both, of being a balanced offense that can run it and throw it. I think that's the only way you get good in this league. I think you have to have the threat of both. I mean we have run the ball here really well and we know how to do that. I've always said we need to grow in the passing game and I think we are doing that now. I think the receivers are getting better, I think quarterback is getting better, and I think the line has gotten better and I think if we continue to grow and keep working at it, then we have the chance to be something really good.
Q: Denarius [Moore] has had a couple of quiet weeks, a fast start, and then a couple of quiet weeks, then he's breaking out again. What has been the difference for him?
Coach Jackson: I think it happens in this league. That's my point. A week ago, it was Jacoby. This week, it's Denarius. I couldn't tell you who it's going to be next week. It might be Darrius [Heyward-Bey], it might be Kevin Boss, who knows – you don't know. It all depends on how teams defense you and that's how we play. We have a way and rhythm of how we play football on offense and sometimes, one guy might get targeted a lot more than the other because it's based on how the defense plays and based on where the quarterback sees his progression. So, I'm not going to say the past two weeks we just tried to throw it at him a ton. I know in the Denver game, he had 12 opportunities. I think in this one, he had seven and caught five. Some guys didn't have any, some guys had some. I mean that's going to happen, but that's the beauty of what we do. Whoever has the hot hand might get it, whoever can get open is going to get it, and we're going to continue to do that.
Q: How is T.J. Houshmandzadeh doing?
Coach Jackson: He is doing great; he's doing great. T.J. – somebody asked me that the other day, T.J. is here for several different reasons and one, because I have a legit understanding of football with him and what he is and what he isn't. That's number one. Number two, he can help this team be what I think it can be. He brings a level of experience and toughness to that position that we have some young guys that are growing. He has a good coach also. He can go in there and coach those guys up along with Sanjay Lal and get those guys to understand exactly what it is I am looking for and maybe share some of his experience of being with Carson. So to me, he is invaluable as to what he brings to this football team and then he will go out there and catch a ball that is huge in the game, when you least expect it. I think he is doing a good job. Do I think still he is working his way into understanding, into being a part of our football team and exactly how we do things? Yeah, but he has done a great job since he's been here.
Q: How much of a luxury is it to have a guy like Michael? You lose Darren [McFadden], who is obviously one of the most productive backs in the league. Not many other teams have another guy that can run it for 150 yards in a game…
Coach Jackson: Absolutely, he's unbelievable. That's why he's a Raider. He has done a good job. I have always said that about Michael Bush; he is very dependable, he is always there when you need him. I mean you can go back to last year; my first year here. There are two games – three games that Darren missed. I know two games that Mike played really, really good and rushed for over 100 yards in two games and led us to victories. But, he is definitely a real good football player for us and I'm excited he is here.
Q: I touched on this a little bit last night, but I'm going to go back for a second. When you threw the challenge flag on the play with Carson Palmer, you knew at the time you weren't going to win the challenge.
Coach Jackson:I knew it. Oh yeah, I knew. The guys told me upstairs I wasn't. Just like they said, 'Hue you have a choice to make. Either you can do what you want to do, which is just get the defense a little rest before you stick them out there and get everybody composed and understand what's going on, or you can stick it in your pocket and let the defense go out and play.'
Q: So it was worth a timeout?
Coach Jackson: Absolutely. So, what I decided to do was throw it and I get to make that decision, and I know some people don't agree with that, but that's okay. At that time, you have got to know your team and I didn't want to stick the defense right back out there without getting them composed, getting Chuck to get them together, talk about what we needed to do before we went back out there. I think sometimes you have to do that as a coach. You've got to know your team. I knew the ball was kind of; I mean his arm wasn't going forward, but it was a chance to take. Maybe you could get a judgment call, you never know. But I also knew what I was trying to do on the other side which was to give our defense just a little bit more time.
Q: But why not just call timeout?
Coach Jackson: Because I didn't want to call timeout. Because at that time, I might have gotten a judgment call that, 'Hey, maybe we can get the ball back.' So, that's where I was with that.
Q: Lito's [Sheppard] first start in a long time?
Coach Jackson: It was good. I'm sure he was excited to be out there and he did some good stuff. I mean obviously, he had a play that he wishes he had back, that went over him and Lito normally makes that play. He had an interception right in his hands, but he battled. Think about it – again, here is a guy who hadn't played. Here he comes, off the street, a couple of days, 'Hey buddy, you're starting. Let's go play,' and you never look back. All he ever told me was, 'Coach, thank you for the opportunity,' before the game. 'I'm going to make you proud,' and after the game, 'Coach, I'm going to get better.' Those are the kinds of guys you like. I mean he is a veteran player that knew exactly what he was brought in here to do and willing to work at it, willing to do whatever it takes to get better, and to me he is only going to get better because he is now playing. So, I'm very happy he is here also.
Q: San Diego's first drive, they had that lateral play where they got a big kickoff, then they moved the ball a little bit, but you ended up holding them out of the end zone. It seemed like Rolando [McClain] early on was kind of struggling on that first drive, but he got into it as it went along and made some plays. Do you think it was just a matter of getting that ankle going?
Coach Jackson: Oh yeah, just get it warmed up. Yeah and we have got to start faster and he knows that. But I think he has been out, he didn't play last week, neither did we get a chance to practice a lot this past week as a football team because we couldn't. I mean we had such a short week, so I'm sure his cardiovascular wasn't where he wanted it to be and he had to get himself going in the game but boy, did he play good. He really played good and it was very instrumental in helping our defense hold that offense down.
Q: John Madden on the radio said he doesn't think it's right to ask players to come Sunday and play again on Thursday. It's just not enough time for the body to recover…
Coach Jackson: It's hard; it's hard but that's what the league says to do, so that's what we have to do. But is it tough? It's very tough and we didn't have some players play because of it, but that's also part of it too. That's the way the league is set up and there are some other teams that are going to have the same issues starting this Thursday.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about Taiwan [Jones]? He got a few more carries yesterday. Do you see him fitting in a little bit more with [Darren] McFadden out?
Coach Jackson: Oh yeah. No, he is getting better and, again, it's a trust thing for me to him. The more you play and the more you make the right decisions, the more I trust you and he is. He is getting better, he is doing some good things, running the ball hard and making a huge contribution on special teams, and he is earning the stripes on this football team and I think the players are appreciative with what he is trying to do. So as we continue to move forward, we will give him more opportunities to see what he can do.