Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Coach Jackson:First, I'd like to take a moment to thank Raider Nation, the Raiders community and fans and everybody that showed up here last night to welcome the team home from a victorious game in Houston; there was nothing like it. The fans were lined up from the driveway on through to where the players parked and somehow managed to get back there where the players were parked. It was great, it was an awesome scene and a tremendous feeling. Again, winning a real huge game on the road in Houston especially after the week we had – after the couple days rather that we had, it was just a tremendous feeling. I think our players, I know the organization are really happy and thankful for the many people that showed up last night. Again, what a hard fought game in Houston by our football team. I thought our guys fought as well as we fought all year and I think we played against a really good football team. My hats off to Houston because I think that team is going to win a lot of games. Unfortunately, they've got some players hurt just as we got some players nicked too, but that's part of the game. I thought our team responded and played as physically as I think I've seen us play all year. We've still got to get better. We've got a ways to go but I thought that from that standpoint of being physical and going out and playing Raider football, I thought that they did that.
Q:Have you ever been welcomed back anytime you've been coaching by a group of fans?
Coach Jackson:Nothing like that. When we won a playoff game, there were quite a few fans there but this felt different. Obviously, the feeling of what had happened was still near and dear to everybody losing Coach [Al Davis]. But it was just different. I think it was more of a celebration of a win and of a man's life. I thought it was amazing and what a tremendous feeling it was last night.
Q:How are you and the team at this point just dealing with the process of grieving amongst everything else?
Coach Jackson:I think the grieving part is over. Obviously, we are going to keep Coach very dear to us as we continue to move forward. All of you guys know Coach and knew what he was all about and he isn't all about that. He's truly about, 'Lets move on and move to the next situation and opportunity that we have so that we can capture that' because we're chasing something and he knows it and we know it and that's what we're going to do.
Q:At the press conference when you were introduced as head coach, you thanked Coach for handing you the baton as you put it. Do you sort of feel like the baton for his vision is now on you because you know his vision better than anyone with all the conversations you've had?
Coach Jackson:I do but it's not something that I've looked at like that how you just expressed it just a second ago. But, I think I felt that ever since the day he made me the head coach. My job is to help this organization get back to where he wants it to be within his vision. That's what I'm setting out to do, that's the way I set out to do it when the year started and that's what I'm going to continue to do as long as I'm here. Coach is about winning championships and that's what we're going to be about and we're not going to back down from that.
Q:Have you ever been involved in a more emotional game as a coach? Can you talk a little bit about your feelings as the game ended?
Coach Jackson:No, it was hard because I love the man. I have a different type of relationship with him than most. I think I understood what he wanted. I mean Coach's goal was to make people better than what they've ever been. He pushed you, he prodded, he had a lot of demands on you and that's probably the type of environment that I work in best. I like when people set high expectations for me and make me reach them. That's what he did for each and every one of us here in this organization and some people from the outside see that as something different. I see that as being pushed to be the best you can be and to lose that is tough. To me at the end of the game, what I felt was all the emotions that I lost someone who I can always lean on about the situations here. Not that I don't have other people – like Amy Trask, Mark Davis that I can always turn to but to pick up that phone and call Coach whenever I wanted to, I can't do that anymore. I can't pick up that phone and say 'Hey coach, what do you think about this?' I know I'm not going to get another late night phone call at eleven o'clock or midnight saying 'Hue, what are you doing?' So that is different. All that hit me at that particular moment that that part of it is done and you've got to move on to the next chapter.
Q:Coach, in terms of procedure that's one way how your life is going to change over the next few weeks and the rest of the season. But, what else procedurally will change now that he is no longer here?
Coach Jackson:Honestly, nothing has hit me that way. The things that need to be done – I'm being honest with you guys, we already had a plan in place. The trade deadline is coming up. I know there are decisions we have to make based on who is going to be on our 46 as we move thru the week. Coach already taught me how to do those things. When I tell you that there were so many countless hours spent having conversations and talking about things that you need to do and why you do them, I'm very well versed in how to do those things. I feel very comfortable doing those things, I've done them every week with his approval and I'll continue to do them with the approval of Mark and whoever else I need to talk to.
Q:Last week you had some defensive linemen come in, are those decisions completely you?
Coach Jackson:I'm never going to do anything alone here. We're a team here. I'm not going to say I'm going to do it alone but I'm going to be the person to say, 'hey lets make sure we take a peek at these things to make sure that we're strengthening our team and trying to find a way to get our team the best we can have it and the best we can be.'
Q:Do you guys have to make a roster move today because of Terrelle [Pryor]?
Coach Jackson:No, we get a week exemption on that. He'll count as a 54th player until we make a decision of exactly what we're going to do in that direction do we have to do anything. So, I think we're in a really good spot as far as Terrelle Pryor is concerned.
Q: Coach, what are you going to miss the most about him?
Coach Jackson: There's so many things. There's not just one thing in particular. Probably, just the conversations – the late night conversations when we would talk about practice, about what we need to make sure that we took care of and how for so many years, he's played against so many different teams and how they've either tried to attack the Raiders or tried to defense the Raiders. He'd go, 'Hue, don't forget this. Make sure you cover this base, make sure you think through this.' And a lot of those things, I'd probably already thought about but it was just reassuring having him say, 'Make sure you thought through this' and I go, 'Yeah, I got it. That means I'm on the right track.' So, I'll miss that but more so than anything, I'll miss him. I'll just miss the man and what he is. When you have an opportunity to learn from somebody like him and be around him, there's not nothing like it. Nothing.
Q: Do you remember the last time you spoke to Coach Davis and when's the last time you had a conversation?
Coach Jackson: Friday. Friday was the last time I talked to him.
Q: What did you guys talk about?
Coach Jackson: We just talked because we had some players in. I mean you guys asked Trevor Pryce. That particular day, we had some players in. We were making some decisions about what direction we wanted to go in and me and him were dialoging back and forth as far as that was concerned and what we needed to do. He was has wishing me well to take the team to Houston and go get a win and like he always does whenever we talk. So, that was the last time I had an opportunity to talk to him.
Q: It's been reported that he was actually breaking down film on Friday…
Coach Jackson: You're absolutely right. I bet he was [laughs]. There's no question about that. I mean trust me when I tell you – if I know coach up until his last opportunity, there was nothing more that he was doing than football and preparing for the Raiders to play Houston. I guarantee you that.
Q: Do you feel the Raiders legacy under Mr. Davis is in safe hands and how do you view your responsibility of that going forward?
Coach Jackson: Well, my responsibility is to coach this team and to have this team become all they can become this year. I mean this is a one-year deal; this is our team, the 2011 team and that's what I'm going to do. Whatever role I need to play, I'm well prepared to play it within the structure of how we do things here within the organization. Obviously, I know I'm the lead when it comes to football and I gladly accept that. But, nobody is going to do anything alone here. That's not how we do business, even when he was here; he didn't do it alone either. He was the head of it all; he made all the decisions – the yes's and the no's. But boy, he took a lot of input too so we'll continue to operate that way and I think it's a good opportunity for us all to continue to grow and get better.
Q: Coach, how do you feel about the idea of this team using this event as a rallying cry for the rest of the season? How do you think Coach would feel?
Coach Jackson: Again, that's not what he was about. Don't use a rallying cry over him – do your job. Do your job and perform because that's what he pays you to do; be the best you can be. It was never about one person just as if it was me. I would never want it to be about me. I want it to be about this organization and this football team being the best it can be because it should be great and we expect to be great. We are committed to excellence and that's how we're going to go about doing it.
Q: In the upcoming weeks or at the end of this year, is there going to be a need to bring in someone to help you full the void?
Coach Jackson: If that's what we decide to do, then that's what we'll do. I mean I'm open and I think the organization is open to doing whatever we need to do to have us be the best we can be. Whatever that is, I'm totally open to that and I think if that's what's the best thing for us to do, that's what we'll do. If it's not, then we won't. I think we're in a great situation right now because Coach had laid such a good foundation with the people that are here. We're kind of up and running and moving in that direction already and I think things are great and I think they could even be better. I think we'll continue to do so.
Q: So there isn't a need right now?
Coach Jackson: I don't think right this second. Obviously, we're in the flow of this season. We have a game this week against a very good Cleveland team that's going to come to town. That's the number one concern that I think the whole organization has; with one, of making sure that we honor Coach the right way, whenever that is going to take place. Obviously in respect to the family, they'll make that decision and then after that, we have a big ball game to play. We've got another opportunity to go out and get another win under our belt here at home in front of our fans and I think that's what our players are looking forward to doing.
Q: He [Coach Davis] was the ultimate word around here as far as personnel. Is that going to change? You certainly have connected with him for two years and you understand, but if a deal needs to be done, who is going to be in charge? The assumption is that the team will eventually name someone who fills the role of General Manager, which Al was…
Coach Jackson: Right and that could be true. But if something needs to be done right now, I think between Mark Davis, myself, and the rest of the people in the organization, that's who will make that decision. I think if that's the best way to go as we continue to move forward to the future, that's what we'll do. If we need to bring somebody in from the outside and have them fill that void, we'll do that too. That's why I said I think we're in a really good place right now that we have people who have been here who know. I've sat at this man's knee for two years and I've been involved in that draft. I've helped shape this team over the last couple of years as far as draft picks are concerned on this football team, so I know what they look like, run like, act like, sound like, the whole nine yards. Now, it's just a matter of making sure that all the I's are dotted and all the T's are crossed as we move forward. If that's the direction we want to go, then that's what we'll do.
Q: We obviously know you had a chance to talked to Mark [Davis] since everything happened. I'm assuming you've talked to him at some point. What did that mean to him yesterday – the win?
Coach Jackson: I can't speak for him. I really don't want to because he would have to tell you what he felt, but I just know that he was happy that we won the game because it was an opportunity for us to win. Was it fitting because it was after the passing of his dad? I think so. But from an emotional standpoint what he was really feeling inside, you would have to ask him.
Q: Coach, as far as with dealing with everything, is going forward and planning for Cleveland going like usual for you? Or did you take some time today to kind of rest a little bit?
Coach Jackson: There is no rest in pro football. No, I haven't rested, not one bit. I'm tired – I'm not going to kid you about that because I have watched Cleveland and they are a good team. It's another opportunity for our football team to get better, play in front of our fans and I'm going to get a chance to rest when the season is over, somewhere in late February. Hopefully, I can take a break then but there is no rest right now. We have work to do. I thought we played better on defense. I told you guys at some point in time that we were going to slow the run down – we did that on defense. I was very happy to see our guys respond and fight and they did. We played against a tremendous runner yesterday. Obviously, we still got some things to clean up and get better at but I thought we were more relentless to the ball. I thought on offense, I don't think I prepared those guys well enough. We didn't play typical Oakland Raiders offensive football and I take responsibility for that because we've got to play better and we will. But, I thought their defense came to play and we played against a pretty good defensive football team; might be the best defensive football team we have played all year. But, I think we have got to get ourselves on offense back on schedule and play good. I thought our special teams was sensational – what I can say about Seabass [Sebastian Janikowski], the guy was phenomenal and the fake punt, I mean I kept calling it, but they weren't giving us a look. We called it again, we called it at the right time and it was great. Like I told you guys, I will do anything I can do to win a football game and that's what we did and on we go to Cleveland. That's all I can think about right now is how do we put ourselves in position to become 4-2.
Q: How do you stay focused? Now people are talking about you winning it all?
Coach Jackson: Why not us? I said that way back in training camp and I'm not going to quit saying it. I mean, why can't we not win it all? If we keep working and getting better – and please nobody say that Hue Jackson said that we're going to win the Super Bowl. I said, 'Why not us?' Just like every other team that is sitting at 5-0 or 4-1, whatever that is, their coaches are saying, 'Why not us?' I mean who knows what is going to happen over the next several weeks of the season but why not the Raiders? Why can we not win it if we continue to grow and keep working at this thing?
Q: Coach, can you give us any idea about your relationship with Mark Davis?
Coach Jackson: Very good relationship; very strong. He supports me whole-heartedly, he has been at training camp, and we speak all the time before the game when I can see him. I think we have a great relationship. I've never known anything different then that.
Q: Is he a hard core X's and O's kind of guy? Or is he a quiet guy?
Coach Jackson: He is a fun guy, I really enjoy him; he is a lot of fun, he loves football, he loves the Raider organization, and this football team and I think his vision is no different than his dad's. His Commitment to Excellence, his pride and poise, and let's win and that's the way he sees it.
Q: Last year, Mr. Davis gave you a lot of authority with the offense. And then he promoted you to head coach and I presume he gave you a lot of authority with the whole team. Talk about how you earned your authority and when did you believe he came to trust you?
Coach Jackson: I think it evolved over time. I think coach is very good at telling you what it was he expected and what it was that he wanted done and to me, it's like any one of us that works for an employer. They have an expectation of what it is they want you to do and I think when you go out and you set forth to do it – it's not whether you do it exactly like they say, but as long as you put forth that effort and you're trying to get done what it is that people need to get done, then they see that you're working at it, and working hard at it and I think you earn their respect and I think you earn their trust. I don't think he just gave me his trust. I think I had to earn it and I think I earned it through hard work. I think I earned it through meeting his demands and exceeding his demands and it's no different with my staff. They have to earn my trust, each and every day. I have to earn your guy's trust each and every day, so I think that's why we build a relationship and then I think the communication piece was good. As I said before, we could go back and forth on a subject and I wasn't always agreeable and he wasn't always agreeable. But, we always agreed when it was all said and done and I think that's the most important part. We don't have to see things the same, but Coach always came from a good place in my opinion, even when he was saying, 'I don't like this.' It wasn't a fact that he was trying a, 'You better do it this way.' It was just a, 'Look this is how I see it,' and anybody can respect that and I did. Then I say, 'Okay Coach. What about this?' and he would say, 'Oh, you got a point' and so that's how we communicated and I think it worked best for us both.
Q: Coach, can you describe just what it was like coming into work this morning?
Coach Jackson: Probably getting into my car I really realized it was different when I was driving in when it was raining again. I remember the rain in Houston. Wow, was it raining yesterday and coming in, I turned on the radio. Normally after you win a game, I don't normally listen to that but I was trying to find what is it, 106.1 KMEL? So, I was trying to turn to that and I was flipping through it and all of a sudden, there was just this blurb about Coach. It hit me for a second again that I cannot pick up the phone and call him today. That there will not be a call from him today at four or five o'clock saying, 'Hue, let's get together later and talk.' So yeah, it's different. It's a lot different and I will miss that.