Head Coach Hue Jackson answers questions from the media. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Coach Jackson:I'm tired. It was a long night.
Q: Were you celebrating?
Coach Jackson: No, no. I was watching the Patriots. Celebrating? I can't celebrate. That one is over with. On to the next one. There's another team from the AFC East that comes to town that is a very good football team, but we have to talk about the one before, before we get on to that one. So what do you have for me today?
Coach Jackson: Injuries? Okay – what do you want to know? Give me a name, I'll give you an answer.
Q: Chris Johnson?
Coach Jackson: Chris Johnson, obviously, he had a hamstring as I told you guys last night and I probably won't know more about it until we get ready to practice on Wednesday. You have to let it calm down and see where he is by the time we get ready to practice.
Q: Michael Huff?
Coach Jackson: Michael Huff, as I said last night, had a concussion. There is a process you have to go through with that to get cleared, so again, that'll be something we've got today, the rest of the day, and tomorrow to get a feel for where he is by Wednesday.
Q: [Darren] McFadden?
Coach Jackson: [Laughs] You had to mention that name. No, I think he'll be fine; I really do. I think it tightened up on him more so than anything, so I'm going to be very cautious with him to make sure that he's okay. But, I think he'll be fine.
Q: How important is it to back up a big win like you had yesterday with another good game?
Coach Jackson: It's huge. I mean that's life in the National Football League. Every game is tough and we understand that. We have to go back and prepare, practice, and go back in our stadium and play a very good football team. It'll be a great challenge, but as I said last week, we'll be looking forward to it.
Q: What stands out to you and pleases you about the way your team responded, especially in that second half and coming off that bitter taste, as they called it, in Buffalo?
Coach Jackson: We finished. You know it's something that I truly talked about with our team all week. We need to finish the game. As I told you guys in here, it was just about a team that didn't finish and if I could do one thing over, it would be to really coach the finish of the game in Buffalo and I wasn't going to let that one slip through our hands yesterday. I think our guys, we talked about digging, we talked about priming a pump, and finishing a game and that's what this team did.
Q: You guys were able to make adjustments on the fly during the game, it appeared. Jason [Campbell] talked about Marcel [Reece] really being a big part of the game plan, but him coming out there was a lot of things you couldn't use. On defense, you had a makeshift secondary. Mark Sanchez talked after the game that 'they played way more zone than we expected' and I'm assuming some of that might have been because of the people you had. How happy are you with the adjustments you made – the in-game adjustments during that game?
Coach Jackson: Very. That's what we do; that's coaching, that's what we get paid to do. You have to be able to make adjustments to win football games. Some players are going to go out and the next guy goes up. That's the way we go about it and you might have to move this, move that, adjust this, adjust that, and we did. It's a credit to our staff. Those guys do a great job and we've got to continue to do that. That can happen each and every game and we're always prepared for it. We were able to get it done and finish the game.
Q: Mark Sanchez also said after the game that this was a revamped Raiders group. Can you just speak to the new philosophy of the team?
Coach Jackson: [Laughs] That made me feel good. I'm glad he can see it, especially after what he did a couple years ago eating a hot dog. So, I mean it is a new group. It's a group that one, expects to win. It's a group that works to win. It's a group that's becoming something and they are working at it each and every day. I think they can see the vision that they have an opportunity, regardless of who we play, where we play, to win. In order to do that though, we have to seize the moment. You have to finish football games. You have to play as well as you can play every snap to give yourself an opportunity. That's something we talk about, but I hope that the rest of the league can see that this is a different and improved football team. We are not where we want to be, but I think we're working to get there.
Q: Rolando [McClain] said at halftime, he said something about, 'Don't let what happened in Buffalo happen in the second half here.' How much talk was there in the locker room at halftime about what happened in Buffalo?
Coach Jackson: Well, not so much, I don't know about that. I know what I said to them; it was about finishing the game. It was 17-17, I mean it is 0-0 basically and last week in Buffalo, I said the same thing. It was 0-0 and it wasn't so much about going back to the Buffalo experience as it was let's play this game and finish this one because this is the only one we have and we can't go back and get the other one – and I kind of walked out. Then after that, what Rolando said, I wasn't privy to that, but if I know him, he didn't want to go through what we went through last week. That was a long flight home and we didn't want to disappoint our fans and the people that came out to support us, this organization, Coach Davis, and the rest of the people tied to this organization. We wanted to give them what we thought we could, which was a victory and we were able to get that done.
Q: They are known as a defensive team and Rex [Ryan] seemed very disappointed that you guys were able to get outside their defense. He said, you know, 'We've got to keep those guys inside and we thought we could.' Were you surprised at all that your runners could get outside?
Coach Jackson: Surprised? No. No, it's called strategy and coaching. Like he said, he gave us our credit and when we get beat, if we get beat, I'm going to give the other team their credit too. I mean, again, I think our staff did a heck of a job and we have very good players and I think our guys played hard. We blocked them. When it all comes down to it, that's what it is; it's 11-on-11 football. We blocked them, we got some things accomplished and they didn't.
Q: What goes into beating a team that's determined to set the edge? Is it just technique? Is it will?
Coach Jackson: It's a little bit of all those things. It's technique, it's will, it's strategy and sometimes, the player carrying the ball. There's a special guy carrying that football for us right now. I mean he's as good as there is in football. I keep saying that, but he has six supporters in front of him that are blocking like you have never seen, so that is what I'm most excited about. I think our offensive line is really starting to become something also and I keep using that because we're not there yet. You know we're not there yet anywhere. We've just got to keep our head down, keep pushing, keep growing, and keep getting better. This is game three in this whole process; this is a long season. But I want us to continue to grow, continue to get better, and continue to push.
Q: It became obvious after the game yesterday that the theme you emphasized with your team was that the Jets had been twice to the AFC Championship Game. This team coming in [the New England Patriots], I can think of a bunch of themes. Could you share with us some themes that you might be emphasizing this week?
Coach Jackson: [Laughs] Are you kidding me? This team has the best quarterback in football. I mean, Tom Brady is as good as they have anywhere. They have the best coach, quarterback, team – they've been the Super Bowl champion. So, it's going to a tremendous challenge for this football team. But, that's what this is about every week to go out and compete against the best. This is the best of the best week in and week out. There is no easy opportunities in this deal and again, if we are going to become the team that I think we can become, these are the challenges you want. You want to be able to play the Jets at home in your opening game – you want to be able to play Tom Brady and the Patriots in the second game and they'll be fired up and chomping at the bit. I mean they lost a tough one in Buffalo just like we did, but they've got to come out here in the 'O', Raider Nation, our fans, our football team and come play us and we'll show up.
Q: Coach, you had a lot of downfield blocks by receivers. Is that something you stressed?
Coach Jackson: Yes, if you don't have the ball on this football team you're a blocker; we talk about it all the time. If you don't have a ball, you're a blocker whether it's a quarterback or anybody else. We have to play for each other; you pull for each other and play for each other. That's one of the things we really talk about. We want to become a team and in order to become a team everybody's got to do their part.
Q: From a coaching standpoint how invigorating is it to see that level of blocking for two receivers like Kevin Boss sealing off the edge or Samson Satele doing what he did?
Coach Jackson: It's what its all about. Those blocks are what give Darren McFadden the opportunities to score from 70 yards out, gives Denarius Moore the chance to score on a 23-yard reverse. That's what I'm building, that's what we're building, not me I should say, what this team is building. They're playing for each other, there's a lot of passion and finish that goes into that and we coach that and demand that and we're starting to get it. It's so early in this process, but I think our players understand what it is to become a really good football team. If we continue to grind it out and keep working at it we will.
Q: You can say a lot of things up here, on the field and in the locker room, you can hang signs and all that, but how critical is it for the players to actually see it work in the game?
Coach Jackson: Very. That's what validates it all - that's where your credibility comes from when the things you talk about and the things you stress start to show up in games and start to show up on video. When it shows up on video then all of a sudden it has a major influence in you winning. It validates what you talk about all of the time. Once upon a time I'm sure players like to do it their way, what they thought was the best way, but now we kind of do it the way that Coach Jackson sees it and it's getting to be fun because I truly believe it gives them the chance to have success and they have to see the realism in that and I think they are.
Q: Speaking of the way Coach Jackson sees it, there were a couple of shots of you toward the end of the game getting into it, getting the crowd up. Share with us that kind of emotion from your standpoint.
Coach Jackson: Oh man, it's in me. I will do whatever it takes to help our team win a football game. I'll stand on the bench if that's what it takes. I don't get caught up in what people say, I'm not into all that, what I'm in to is winning. I love when our fans are involved and I think we could be louder, I think we need to be louder, I think they did a tremendous job yesterday, but I'm telling you, they can do it even better. I expect better this weekend because there is nothing like our fans. I want them to be heard from here clear across San Francisco if we can do it because I think they can because I think this team needs them. Just like they need us, we need them.
Q: Was there a different feeling with the fans going into this game compared to last season?
Coach Jackson: For me it is because I'm the head coach now I'm not the coordinator that's kind of beep bopping around looking to score a touchdown. As a head coach, watching how hard these guys work, sitting in this chair is a little different. I know the energy that our team gets from our fans. I can see it. I can see the feeling our team has in warm ups when our fans are screaming and yelling and calling their names and wishing them luck and that same emotion went right into the locker room before the game. When we came out I knew we were ready to play and that opening drive showed exactly what the fans were able to give us, that energy, and we kind of fed off of that.
Q: There were a lot of positives in this game obviously, and we usually don't ask questions about what a team can learn from their mistakes unless it's a loss, but what kind of mistakes did you see in this game that you still feel like you need to learn from?
Coach Jackson: We still got to tighten up everywhere. We're running the ball very well and one of the things I want to do is we need to throw it better and we will. That has nothing to do with our quarterback, that's just period. I think you keep growing as you go and I think we will on defense. We've got to continue to tackle better. We've got to finish tackles better than what we have. In saying that I think that both sides of the ball and special teams are doing a tremendous job. There's always going to be plays that you wish you had back, there's plays I've called that I wish I had back but for the most part I think we're right on schedule of where I think we can be and should be. We're a 2-1 football team, we've only had three games. the best we can be is 3-0. We had one unfortunate situation this season. I think we learned from it. What I was looking to see is a team that would come back with a lot of resiliency and go fight against a very good football team and we did in front of our fans, at home, our opener. It doesn't matter about the weather, whether it was going to rain or be hot we were going to go out there and play and that's what we did.
Q: What does it say about the explosiveness of your offense to not convert a single third down and score 34 points?
Coach Jackson: It says we better get better at third down, that's what it says. We had some chances on third downs, we just didn't make those plays and that was unfortunate. That was probably one thing that stuck out in my mind as being the leader of the offense that we need to continue to get better at. We came into this game 50 percent on third downs doing really well, and then missed some plays, but that was the best third down defensive team in football. They did their part and we didn't do ours so we need to continue to grow in that area.
Q: Any feedback from Al [Davis]?
Coach Jackson: When I talk to Coach, our conversations are fantastic. They've been good whether it's been the loss that we had or the wins. His whole passion is for this team to be the best it can be and at the end of the day, as I told you, this job is about winning and losing. So, I would think he is very excited.
Q: Has he expressed that to you?
Coach Jackson:Well, we don't talk about expressing our feelings. We really talk about what is best for the team. At the end of the year we'll sit down and have those good ol' feeling hugs and conversations, but it's not what I'm about right now. I'm about the next game and I think he knows that about me. I've got off of the Jets game last night at about ten o'clock after the last highlight I could watch, I can only watch so much and then I was right on to the Patriots and that's kind of where I am. That's kind of the way we do it. I think he likes it that way and I do too because we don't spend a lot of time saying oh this is a good job, that's a good job because there is too much work to be done.
Q: Coach [Belichick] wants the Patriots to respond - they went through sort of a similar game to what you had in Buffalo, four interceptions from Brady more than the rest of this season…
Coach Jackson: They'll be ready to play you know that and I know that. They're just like a week ago with us they want to get the bad taste out of their mouth. They've got an excellent football team and an excellent coach and he'll have them ready to play and a quarterback like I said I can't say anything more about him. He's the best there is in football, but we feel like we have a pretty good team too. I know one thing about these guys they're going to be excited to play, we're going to show up and be ready to play.
Q: There is a lot of talk about how the NFL is turning more into a passing league; is there an advantage to being a power running team like you guys are when everybody else is spreading out?
Coach Jackson: My philosophy is this, I think you throw to score and you run to win. I think you've got to be able to run the football in the National Football League. At some point in time you have got to be able to turn around and hand it off and block people and knock them down. I also think you need to have the capability of throwing it because that's what gives you chunk plays really fast. This team we're playing this week is one of the best in the league at doing that.
Q: John Robinson, his philosophy in running was beating against the other team and wearing them down.
Coach Jackson: I worked for John Robinson, so maybe some of that has rubbed off on me.
Q: In other words you keep running it and finally in the third and fourth quarter it shows up because the other team starts to get beat up.
Coach Jackson: There are some teams you can wear down, there is no question, some teams are built differently, but that's strategy. That's kind of knowing your opponent, and how to attack your opponent. I believe in a very strong, physical, combative running game, because I think you have to be able to do it. No one should ever be able to stop you from running the ball, whether it's sunny, rainy, snowy, it's proven. Sometimes when it's rainy you can't throw the ball as well, or if it's snowing you can't throw it as well. Well that's not the case when you're a running ball club. So you have to be able to run it, but you also have to be able to throw it. I'd love to have a perfect mix if I can, be 50 percent run, and 50 percent pass. But we know certain games it's going to dictate that you're going to have to do something a little bit more than others. That's just the way it is.
Q: Some guys in the locker room that when they are watching film, any time someone doesn't finish a block it is immediately pointed out; are you seeing fewer and fewer instances of that? Is it happening a lot less as the weeks go on?
Coach Jackson: Yes it is, it has to, again if were going to get to where we want to go that's one of the main goals. And I laugh at that because I'm probably the one screaming all the time, because I believe in that. I just think we didn't have an offseason like it would have had, so the process is speeded up. Everything is speeded up. And the players are probably hearing my voice a little bit more than they like to hear it, but that's ok. The result is what we are after, the result is winning or losing.
Q: Yesterday you said you live your life on the edge, those were the words you used, and I find those words interesting I don't know what they mean.
Coach Jackson: What I mean is a lot of people won't run reverses, like I will. 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 just don't have that fear that way. When you have good players you give them a ball and let them make plays for you. I think that's why my players enjoy playing for me because I don't have that fear. I threw the ball from the one-yard line at Denver, and I will never forget when I called the play there was complete silence on the headphone, like what are you doing? Well hey look here, why not a 99-yard touchdown? And we were that close to having it happen. I just think you players appreciate that when you believe in them, and I do. And I guess I see it as living on the edge a little bit because I have been places where people won't do that. 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 will let you guys write about that, I want the result, give me the touchdown that Denarius Moore ran, and give me the 27-yard run Darren McFadden had, and then we will be talking about good things.
Q: Speaking of those two plays, were they set up? Did you run the halfback option knowing that the next play might be the reverse? Or did you see something in the halfback option that opened up the reverse?
Coach Jackson: I see it, I do. Again, that is film study, that's communication, talking to Al Saunders when he is upstairs, looking at that picture book, getting a feel for how the team is flowing. That is why I have never been a coordinator that likes to be upstairs; I like to be on the field. You get a different feel for the game because you get to see things a little bit clearer than you do from behind the glass, so it's a feel thing. You have to have a feel to make those decisions and to make those calls. But as I said earlier, you have got to be right and there has been times I've been wrong, that's part of it, but that's okay.
Q: Can you talk about your building a bully mentality? And how that has affected your players?
Coach Jackson: I think they believe it. I think they are buying into that. I think you have to be a very tough team to win in this league week in and week out. The physical demands of the National Football League is tough. And to me, if you don't have that kind of mindset, it's hard to win. We just played a team from the East that I think are bullies. And I think people would say the Raiders were bullies yesterday. When you can run the ball like we did and slow the run down on defense like we did, that's where it starts. That's credit to our offensive line and defensive line, our front seven versus their front seven whether offensively or defensively we got it done. And that's where it starts, it starts in the trenches, then it gives our skill guys the opportunity to have success. And they have to play that way too. It's a mentality, it's a thought process, it's a mindset, and we talk about it. We're not there yet totally, we're not, I keep saying that, because we're not. You guys will know when we are because you will truly see it on the field when we are because I truly believe in making a team say, 'I've had enough,' and that's what this is all about.
Q: Everyone expects this game to be a very high scoring game, would you take exception to that or would you take that?
Coach Jackson: I want to take exception to it because I want our defense to play as well as they can play. And I truly believe when those eleven guys play together and execute like I think they can, we can slow anybody down. This is a tall challenge, this is Tom Brady and his group, Chad Ochocinco, my old son, Wes Welker and the crew, so I'm looking forward to this. Yeah, we're scoring points but our goal is to score one more point than the other team. That's what we have to do. A lot of people say, 'oh man, you're scoring more points than you ever have,' well we didn't score enough in Buffalo. We scored enough yesterday, we have to continue to grow and get better.
Q: What is your impression of Denarius Moore?
Coach Jackson: Unbelievable. He is a guy that has grown on me like you haven't seen. A year ago with Jacoby [Ford], I kinda slowed Jacoby down by not putting him in there because I wasn't very familiar with everyone here, and he was a rookie. But this guy is a rookie and from day one through yesterday, the guy just continues to make plays. The first catch that he had on the screen on this game, and there he goes. He is a game-changing football player who likes to play and when you have guys like that, you just let them play, watch them play and watch them grow. That's what he is doing right before all of our eyes. I'm not going to stop him, that's for sure. I'm going to keep letting him do what he does.