Hue Jackson: First of all before I say anything, I have to say something to Raider Nation because Raider Nation we are back, back in business, and back to playing football. I am excited, our players are excited, and I think you guys are even excited because you have something to do now. I am glad you are here today and I know you have a ton of questions but this is the first day of a new beginning in Raider football and we are happy to be here so let's let it rip; What you got?
Q: Coach, with only one practice a day for the first week, you feel like because there was no OTA's, minicamp, do you feel like you have to ease the players into it?
A: I am not a guy that eases into anything but obviously I have to do a good job of making sure that our team is ready to handle the demands of practice each and every day and will do that. We'll get out and do some conditioning but as I said a long time ago, I am sure that our players have been training. Obviously it is not at the hands of a coach, but I know they have been training and preparing for this day. We have always said that the 27th we will be in training camp and we are. Now it's just a matter of getting out and seeing exactly where this team is so that we can get them to where they need to be.
Q: What happens tomorrow, you going to hit the ground running?
A: Why not? I mean were going to go out and run a little bit and do a little football. We are going to do what the rules will allow us to do. For the first two days there is not much you can do, it's all about conditioning, a walk through, and then it's a little bit of practice but will adhere to all the rules and make sure that we do it right. Most important thing is getting our players back acclimated to our coaches and our coaches to them and them being back in this environment and them being around you and everybody else around here. Then getting back to playing football, the way we know how to play football.
Q: Is it going to be more of a problem for a first year staff like this?
A: I think everyone says that. I think anytime in the National Football League it is a challenge. Now obviously we wish there were OTA's and mini camps and all those things but I mean it has still been a tremendous offseason in my opinion because I have had a chance as a first year head coach to really get to know our staff and our staff to get to know me, share the vision and through. You kind of put it out to our players what we are expecting. Our players have been tremendous because as you see the things that they have said it is kind of sounding like me: "were going to build a bully, we expect to win and were going to win" and that is exactly what we are going to do.
Q: The latest with free agents like Nnamdi and Zach Miller?
A: The latest is this, by Friday we all will know exactly what is going on. Obviously, I have said a numbers of times I would love to have all of them back. I am not sure how that is going to go but were talking to everybody. I know everybody wants to know are you talking to this guy, are you talking to that guy; we are talking to everybody, if there is a guy that is out there that is free, trust me I have called him and talked to him. By Friday and that is when they can truly sign, I mean right now you hear all the different things like this guy is going here and this guy is going there. I mean some of that is true and that is the way it works. We also know that nothing can happen until Friday so a lot of things can happen between now and then. There is still several hours left in this thing called free agency before people start to sign on the dotted line.
Q: Where are you with your draft picks? Have you signed any of those yet?
A: Well, let me say this I think we do have one of our players that has signed and I think we are very, very close to getting all of them signed. I am very excited that our organization has done such a tremendous job of getting players in. I think a lot of them are very close to being here. The whole objective for us was to get everybody here practicing from day one and I think we are very close to getting that done.
Q: Do you think you can have all your rookies our here tomorrow?
A: There is a great possibility that all of them could be here. I think we are very close on them all.
Q: Which one signed?
A: TJ, Taiwan Jones is in the building and ready to go to work.
Q: How many times did you meet with Saunders and Bresnahan? Were you sick of seeing each other?
A: Oh my gosh they are like brothers to me, somebody needs to get them away from me. But no, we spent a lot of time, a lot of quality time together. You know obviously preparing; we knew that this day was coming as I told you guys before we just didn't know when. It's just ironic that we are here exactly when we said we are going to be here and ready to play football. We worked every imaginable schedule, every imaginable scenario that you could prepare for this day and I think our staff has done a tremendous job. I give a lot of credit to Tom Jones who is my assistant. There is a lot of different rules that you have to be up on and our organization is all over it and they keep me a breast about everything that is going on. Like I told everybody just be flexible because things our fluid and things are going to change. I think we all know that it changes by the minute and we just have to roll with it as we go through it.
Q: Who is our Quarterback? Do you have one at this time?
A: Say that again…..You did not ask me that question out here today? Does anybody not know who the starting quarterback is of the Raiders? Are you kidding me? Doesn't he wear number eight and his name is Jason Campbell. He is the starting quarterback of the Raiders, period. Any other questions?
Q: Is there any concern that the players will not be able to grasp everything by week one?
A: No, I don't think so because a lot of what we do is what we do. My biggest concern is that we have a very healthy football team, that we come here with the right attitude, that we come here to work, that there is a purpose for everything we do and that we are chasing perfection in all that were doing each and every day. When we come out here there is something that we have to get accomplished and by time week one rolls here against Denver, which I think you are referring to, that we are ready to play Raider football. You know obviously we have some preseason games. You know they call them preseason games but we going to treat them as times to get ready to play in that opening game in Denver. So I am looking forward to it, I think our players are looking forward to it. Again it was so exciting to see them I couldn't stop from going around and shaking all their hands when they first got here because I am so happy to see a player. You know I am tired of seeing all the coaches. I am tired of seeing everybody else. I have got to see my players and now it is truly about me giving them my vision and them going out and executing this plan.
Q: What is the approach for you being a first time head coach?
A: Oh baby its fun, trust me when I tell you, 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 to build a championship team here.
Q: How much has the lack of OTA's hurt Wisniewski and Barksdale, does that hurt their starting time?
A: I mean obviously it does, it hurts somewhat, but still when you come out here it is still a game of football and at some point in time when they allow us to we will put on pads and a helmet; the full thing and we will go out and start hitting each other. That is when the cream is going to rise to the top in all of these different situations. We are behind a little bit but I am trusting in our staff and coaches. That is why I hired the men that I hired that are here. They are unbelievable teachers and they will get these guys ready to play.
Q: The actual time that you will play football will be reduced, how do you get out there and build the bully that you talk of with less time?
A: I use that statement a lot and that is true and you do need to put a helmet on each other, but you do need to create the environment every day in practice. Every day that we are out there and even when we are not out there. There is a walk-through that we have to adhere to, but when we are out there in shorts or shells or whatever we are wearing in practice where you don't wear full gear. It has to do with the environment of being tough and you still can create the environment of being tough. Create the environment of doing things the right way. Being a bully obviously is finishing people and playing the game on edge, and I think that we are going to do that. That is a mentality, it starts with the mind first and then it permeates everywhere else and that is what we are going to do.
Q: So then making every second counts is important?
A: There is no doubt about it and that is true, every second is going to count and everything is well detailed out until the time that they go to bed, and the time that they wake up. It is important to do this thing the right way, and to give us the best chance and opportunity to have success.
Q: A number of your players have twitter accounts, and are you going to have a conversation with them about that?
A: Oh yes I will, because our business is our own personal business and we don't want to share with anybody what we are doing or what we are trying to accomplish and I don't want to give anybody an edge on us, and sometimes in fun out players are trying to do the right thing by talking to players, and sometimes players have little squabbles back and forth and players will talk about things that they shouldn't. But yeah I will definitely talk to the players about that. That is an edge for the other team and I am not interested in that, I am interested in what we do to do stay right here, we are a family and that is what families do.
Q: Do you yourself have a twitter account?
A: I do not.
Q: Talked a little about how Jason was able to grasp the offense and I know that you haven't talked to him but what have you heard about his offseason workouts?
A: Oh man I have heard that he is ready. You know it is time for Jason to take the next step, I truly believe in Jason Campbell and what we are trying to accomplish here. It starts with the quarterback. We go as our quarterback goes. I think that he is prepared and that he is ready and I see a different look in his eye. This is not new to him anymore. Him seeing me is not new to him anymore. Him saying that his teammates are not new to him anymore, so I expect for him to take that next jump.
Q: How much have you already talked to him this week?
A: This week? It wasn't this week that we couldn't talk to him. It has really been but a couple of days. I have talked to him a little bit; I have not talked to him a ton. I think that Al has talked to him a lot more than I have because there has been so many other things to do as we continue to prepare for today. I did see him, he hugged me and Bresnahan, and I think that we are ready to go. He knows what I expect, and I think that the team knows what I expect. I mean there is not going to be any fair dodging and there is not going to be in short cuts to and all there is going to be is hard work to the championship and that is what we are going to do. I think that those guys and the people that you just mentioned, as well as several other veterans on this football team understand what they must bring in order to make that happen.
Q: You came here last year, and it was evident from the first day that you were going to push and prod…and talk to the defense, I'm curious as head coach, will you still do it?
A: Yeah, I'll do it more. There is no doubt. Let me tell you all something right now, I am not changing. I am going to push the defense. I am going to push the offense. I'm going to push the special teams. I'm going to push the coaches. I'm going to push the fans. I'm going to push you! Because here's the deal, we are going to create something here that's great. I'm not interested in being good, I am interested in being great, and the only way I know how to do that, is to challenge people. I get challenged each and every week. Well, why can't everyone else get challenged each and every day. That's the name of the game and how we are going to go about it. I don't know any other way to do it. To me that's why coach hired me, for that particular reason. I don't know any other way, and we are going to walk out here every day and compete. If you don't want to compete then you are in the wrong place.
Q: Well coach, to take Jerry's thought further, your transition is from coach to administrator now…
A: I do that too. I cross the T's dot all the I's, make sure this is over here and that is over there, bring this here, bring that there and still go coach football. Because at the end of the day that's what it is all about. My reality is winning and losing, there's nothing else. Yes making sure the practice schedule is right and all that stuff is fine and dandy, but I have to make sure on defense, we get them stopped; on offense we score points; and on special teams, we play very good. That's what it is at the end of the day. That is truly the name of my job.
Q: Coach, can you talk about any of the undrafted free agents, and how many you were considering drafting that you got anyway?
A: Well, let me say this, there were some guys that we wanted to draft, and there were a couple in this group. But there are fourteen guys here that are undrafted free agents, we are glad to have them all. They are Raiders right now. They are going to come out here and compete. Obviously as we get closer there could be some more as we go, but as we move towards the end of the week, I think you'll start to see them and ask questions about them, but we were able to get fourteen new young men on this team. I'm excited to watch them compete, what a tremendous opportunity for them. Obviously practice time is cut, these guys need to rise up quickly and show their worth. Because opportunities are going to be a little different than they were in the past, but I'm anticipating somebody emerging out of that group to play some pretty good football.
Q: Coach, who has the longest learning curve in this, the offense or the defense because of this abbreviated offseason.
A: Everybody would say it's the offense, because defense is about attacking, is about going after the person who has the ball as often as you can. Offense is more about strategy. That's what everybody says, and that could be true, but again I think we have tremendous teachers and that's what we do. It's almost like adjusting in a game, all of a sudden you thought the defense is going to line up like this and they didn't, they lined up like something else, you have to adjust. That's what this is, and that's how we are going to approach it. We aren't going to make this a big deal, "oh you didn't do this, oh you didn't do that." That's what we do. Change is the norm in the National Football League, that's the way it is at a game, that's the way it is when you travel, that's the way it is when you prepare, that's just the name of the business. Change is something we are going to embrace, not something we are going to get mad about. We are going to deal with it and move forward.
Q: Coach, I know you expect to win, but is this a team that you feel can make a run in the playoffs?
A: Why not? Why not us? I say that all the time. Nobody thought the Packers would do what they did either. Obviously, they had some very key pieces on their football team, with a tremendous quarterback and a very good defense. But they had to come together, and that's what we have to do too. This is not rocket science. This is lining up and having a very good plan on defense, being very physical and stopping teams on defense. It's about being on offense and being able to execute on a high level, and being on special teams and being great. And do the things that you know that you have to do to not lose, which is turn the ball over and make sure you get enough turnovers and quit doing stupid penalties. That's what this is all about, the common denominator to it all is just what I talked about, if you could do those things, you've got a chance. And I mean that, why not us? Why not the Raiders?
Q: You scheduled 3:30 practices for the next three days I saw on our schedule. Leading up to that time, is it all classroom work until 3:30? Is there a walk-thru that you do at some point on the field?
Coach Jackson: Oh yeah, there's walk-through as you guys I'm sure know the rules. There's one practice you get a day. You get one opportunity to take these men out on the field and have a legitimate football practice. Other than that, you get to take then out and have a legitimate walk-thru. That's what we'll do. Again, to me, it's going to be a great teaching opportunity. You get to teach and then you get to test. You teach them and you walk right out there and test them in a very competitive situation and to me that's some of the best learning I've seen. We're going to make all of this positive. We're not going to make this a negative by no stretch of the imagination.
Q: Walk-through has no helmets?
A: Some walk-throughs will have no helmets, obviously, the first couple days. As you move forward there will be some. There are no such things as shells in a walk-through.
Q: How long of a calendar do you plan for Napa as far as camp goes?
A: I want to be here for at least a good three and a half weeks. We're going to be here the normal time we would have been as before regardless of all the other things that happened. We all wish we had those other practices, but we don't. The other teams don't have them either, that's all I know. Nobody is getting an advantage on anybody else. The bottom line is going to be the staff that has come together and can teach very well to their players and the players that embrace what the staff brings. I think I have a very good staff. I think we have some very good players and it's time for those players here at the Raiders to rise up and play the way we know they can play.
Q: How different is the playbook with Saunders here and do you foresee scaling it back because of the lockout?
A: Well Saunders is here, but Hue Jackson is still the play-caller and this is still going to be our offense. This is going to be our offense and obviously there are going to be some new wrinkles. I don't want you guys to see the same stuff. You don't want to see the same stuff, do you? Okay. We're going to do some things a little bit different and that's where Al comes in. He's a tremendous offensive mind and so glad to have him be part of this staff, but we will do things that my whole idea on offense and his whole idea on offense and our vision to put our players in position to have success. So how much it changes all depends on how good these guys are. Who can score touchdowns? Whoever can score touchdowns, they're going to get the ball and that's what we're going to do.
Q: Is there more pressure on the receiving corps now that they're another year older?
A: Truth be told, there's pressure on everybody and the first pressure starts here with me and I'm going to put the pressure on them to play as good as they can play - on the running backs, their line, the quarterback, there's pressure everywhere. I know people always want to single out a group, but that group needs to perform, but the other groups have to perform too. We can talk about the receivers all we want, but if we can't block, it doesn't matter. All that stuff goes hand in hand. We all have to work together. I think there's pressure on every unit. You can write it and you can say it. There's pressure on every unit of this football team because I have an expectation on how they're going to play. That's the way they're going to play. I'm not going to look for it. I'm going to demand it and that's exactly what we're going to do.
Q: Free agents not being able to practice until next week, how helpful was it that you had as many locked up as you did?
A: Oh my gosh, think about that. Again, that's a tremendous credit to Coach. He has some foresight to get a very good unit on our team, the defensive line and some other players, locked up. If they had to play tomorrow, we're able to play. I think that's very important. There are some people that aren't in that situation. I thought it was very important that we did get some people under contract, that there was not an issue of who was going to play where. We don't have some thoughts on that. We're just trying to add some pieces and improve and get some guys back that we want on this football team. I think that was a tremendous coup by Coach making that happen.
Q: Are there any guys hurt that won't be able to go right away and are all of the guys that are signed here?
A: Everybody is going through physicals so I'll have that information later today. The first day is about physicals and conditioning. You guys brought me right out here at 2:00 p.m. and here I am so I can't answer all that yet. But everyone who is under contract will be here. There's no question in mind they will be here. They will be here in this building, in the hotel room where they're supposed to be, if they're not free agents.
Q: Are you happy with what you heard about players' conditioning and commitment in the offseason?
A: Yes, I'm happy about the way they look. There's a look in their eyes. This is not the same team as it was a year ago, obviously. And it's not the same staff as it was a year ago. There's a different look, there's an expectation. That's all I need and want to create here in Oakland – that there's an expectation that we need to live up to each and every day that we come out here. It's just so important. I think if we do that and it becomes our mantra as we move forward then I think we'll hit on something really special.
Q: Can you talk about this training camp complex?
A: Oh my gosh, I have to give them a lot of credit. How about this place, first of all, the Marriott? All of a sudden turn it around that quick because we weren't sure whether it was going to be the 27th or Friday. You know what the Marriott said? Get here. Get here whenever you want. So how accommodating is this for us? What a tremendous opportunity to work with people who are for us. That's number one. Is there a better training camp in all of pro football than this one? Not in my mind. Everything is right here. I have a nice room now. It's very nice. I have a nice room, we have great food, we have great meeting rooms, look at this place. Are you kidding me? Look at this place. I can't go drink the wine or anything like that, but I'm telling you, what a tremendous place for us to be and we love it here. But thank you Napa, thank you Marriott for everything they have done to give us an opportunity to come here and work. And that's what this is going to be about, work.
Q: As you sat through this lockout, do you think it was tougher on you or Mr. Davis?
A: I think it was tough on us both because I think we're both very competitive, as you guys know. Coach is only interested in winning and getting everything right so he can give me and our team the best chance to win. And I tried to do what I could to make it through. But it's okay because I'm here today and I've been chomping at the bit for awhile, but we're here and we're ready to go and I can't wait to get these guys on the grass.
Q: Coach, last time we saw you, you talked about how some guys had gotten into some legal problems during the offseason and you wished you could call them, but you couldn't. The second you could call them, are those some of the first guys you talked to?
A: Oh boy, you better know I did. I think it's something I want to address. We at the Raiders are obviously there are so many tremendous stories about the past. Willie Brown has done a great job here with our players. We don't get a lot of players in trouble. It was unfortunate what happened with those players. I understand what they said why things happened. We're going to clean that slate and move forward. Whatever the league decides to do, that's the league's deal. My biggest thing for those players that are here with us at this point that that is just not what we do, that's not how we operate, that's not how we conduct business. I think our guys know that and hopefully that was just a one-time thing and we'll move forward from it.
Q: You talked a lot about chasing perfection and you couldn't wait to get in the meeting room and get with these guys. How do you impart a lot of the stuff you planned on doing this offseason on these guys now?
A: We're going to give it to them. Again, it's been me teaching our staff. So it's going to go from me to our staff, from our staff to them and from player to player. That's just the way it has to be. I'm not changing. They're going to understand the history of this place, first and foremost. There's been some of the most unbelievable players in the world that have played here that have run around on these grass fields. We've had pro bowl players, we've had Hall of Fame players that have played here and our players need to understand that. Second, they need to learn how to work. I don't care if it's hot, I don't care if it's rainy, I don't care if it's cold. Rain, blood, snow, it doesn't matter. We're coming to work each and every day with a purpose and we only know one thing and it's called the AFC West. WE are trying to win a championship. It's what I talk about. Its what I believe. I don't know anything else. I know some of you look at me and say, 'This guy must be crazy.' No I'm not because the first place we're going to beat people at is right here in the mind. That's where you have to win first. Our players understand that. They have to understand that when we walk out here as a team, as a team, because that's who wins, the best team wins, and that's truly what we're trying to become – the best team in the National Football League. That starts today.
Q: You said you called a lot of the guys that you might want to be here with the Raiders. Have you called Asomugha in the last couple of days?
A: Oh yes I have.
A: I can't tell you that. Yes, I have. I try to communicate with every last one of one of the players. Am I able to get through to everybody? Sometimes no. As you know, I'm trying to do a lot of different things, but they're all important to me. Regardless of whether they go here or someplace else, there are guys that have been here and their service is now rendered to be someplace else, I will always wish them well and wish them great luck and I'm sure great thing will happen for them other than when they play the Raiders. But truth be told, like I said, I'd love to have them all back, but sometimes that's just not the case.
Q: Your main focus is on the guys here, but any thoughts at all on Robert Gallery going to sign with Seattle and Bruce Gradkowski going to Cincinnati?
A: Very happy for both of those individuals. Both of those individuals were here and a part of what we did a year ago. I wish them well, great families, and when they were here they did everything they could and I'm sure they'll move forward and keep going. The most important thing for me is the men that are here and we have to get these guys ready for football.
Q: If Nnamdi does move on as expected, how big of a loss is that for this team both on the field and off?
A: I think obviously as I said, he's a tremendous Raider. If it doesn't work out, it's next man up. If I worry about that, then obviously I'm not worried about what we really have to do, which is prepare for this team to win. Let me remind everybody, there are still some tremendous football players on this team. That's why Stanford Routt is here and why CJ Johnson is here, that's why there's still free agency out there. So if things do go the wrong way, there are so many different avenues to make sure that those things are taken care of. One thing I think we all know about Coach is that we're going to have very good players on this team. He's not about saying, 'oh well, one goes, we have no body else.' That's not how it works here. We're going to have good players. We always have, we always will and that's truly what it's all about. You have to have good players and good players have to play great.
Q: Have you been able to make contact with Zach Miller?
A: I've talked to all these young men. Yes I have.
Q: Behind Jason Campbell, are you comfortable with Kyle Boller and is Charlie Frye still in the picture and a possibility?
A: Let me say this, obviously, Kyle is number two today and free agency is still ongoing. I am always going to search to put better players on this team. I don't care what position it is. I don't care if it's quarterback, o-line, d-line, it doesn't matter. I'm still searching. Do we need some more arms? Yes we do and we'll continue to find the best ones for us.