Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: Any injury updates?
Coach Jackson: Injury updates – no, obviously I won't know about guys' injuries until tomorrow, really until Wednesday until we get ready to practice. But, I think we're getting closer to getting some guys back, which I think will really help our football team. Again, after yesterday's win, I'm very excited about a lot of different things I think we're doing well. The most important thing I think is, like I said, we won at home. I thought it was important in front of a sold out stadium to win for our fans, win for the football team for the hard work that these guys are putting in; obviously, to keep pace in our division on top of the AFC West and also to score in the fourth quarter because I've heard it from everybody here sitting in this room. So, we've gotten a couple of streaks broke so I was excited about that when it was all said and done. Obviously, just to get the win, I was very elated about that. To be 7-4 at this point in the season, 11 games into it with five more to play with an opportunity to control our own destiny is, like I said before – it's all you want. It's a position you want to be in, but this team is working hard; they're grinding through things. I think it's one of the characteristics of a championship football team that you've got to do – sometimes, you've just got to put your head down and just keep working, and that's what these guys are doing.
Q: What does it say that you're able to win a game when the running game is not at it's best? Most of your wins when you've been here have been when you're able to run the ball…
Coach Jackson: I think we're growing. We're growing in the passing game. Obviously, our quarterback – he's had three games and what has he played; five games now? Three out of five where he's been either above 300 yards or close to it, so like I said before, this guy's a proven passer. He knows how to throw the ball and he'd be the first to tell you there's throws that are normally layups for him that he needs to get better at too, but at the end of the day, I think we're growing all across this football team. What we need to do is still put a complete game together where we're playing from the first snap to the last snap and when we do that, we've got a chance to be a scary group of players.
Q: Did you come out of that game with any new injuries or was it pretty much status quo?
Coach Jackson: No, the only guy was [Rolando] McClain. He obviously went back in to play, so I think we walked out of there feeling pretty good about our health. Again, we evaluate today and tomorrow, and there's nothing new today and I don't think there should be anything new tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll get some of those guys off that list here pretty soon and get them back out there to playing.
Q: Coach, a couple of months ago you said five or six penalties – you could live with that. After yesterday's six, do you consider the penalty issue fixed or is it a weekly thing?
Coach Jackson: [Laugh] It's never fixed – what I think that was was a start. It's a start into the new Raiders; I'm going to put it like that, term it that way, because I think it's very important down the stretch that we play as a very intelligent football team. We have to take care of that issue. We know it's an issue, the team does, and they did a better job yesterday. But, there's still a lot of work to be down in that area also.
Q: You could actually see guys yesterday by the sideline when they would get near the sideline and the guy was out of bounds, pulling back to make sure that it didn't look at all like there was any kind of foul going on. When you say that, does that make you think, 'Alright, maybe this is starting to get through?'
Coach Jackson: Yes it does. When you emphasize something as much as we do and have, you're looking for the result on the other end and like you said, sometimes it's in the way a player reacts. Maybe it's in what a player does too just in the heat of battle and I think our guys recognize that it's something that's hurt us, not helped us. That we do have to play with a little bit more focus from an intelligence standpoint when it comes to doing things that could cost the football team and yesterday, one penalty at halftime – I think that was a good start. Obviously, we got five after halftime that we need to continue to address and get better at.
Q: The holding stuff you're not going to be able to do anything about, but no personal fouls…
Coach Jackson: It is, but some of the other things are technique, fundamentals that we continue to work at and harp on and get better at. As long as our players stay focused in the things that I think are the major penalties – the personal fouls, the self-inflicted wounds, the jumping offsides, the illegal procedures, which we had a couple, I think we've got a chance to solve some of this issue.
Q: You said that you're growing as a football team. How grown are you? How close are you to the ideal goal or how distant is it at this point?
Coach Jackson: Well I think until we get healthy; until we can get some of the key players back on this football team can you truly grow and become all you can become. Now do I think from a mentally tough standpoint, do I think we're learning how to grind these things out when games are tough? I truly believe that. This team's not going to blink. I don't care where we play, who we play; I think we understand that. What we've got to do now is just that finishing touch, you know, that when you've got a team down, you've just got to make sure you finish the game the right way and not give another team new life. We know how to do it and we've just got to get it done.
Q: You said Darren [McFadden] and Jacoby [Ford] are closer to coming back than they had been before. Darren was out there doing some light workout this morning…
Coach Jackson: Oh, you've seen him doing that, huh? [Laughs] Okay.
Q: Do you have a target date set for these guys or is it just a day-to-day thing because you said last week, you didn't want him at 70 percent, you want him at 100 percent?
Coach Jackson: Absolutely. I don't want to do any injury by degrees, or by percentages or anything. I think when the player is ready to play, I'll know because he'll be ready to go at full speed and obviously the player you mentioned, Darren – obviously, I mean we've got to get his conditioning back first and foremost. Jacoby, obviously we'd have to get his conditioning back. I'm not going to rush any of those guys back. Do we need them and want them back as fast as we can get them? We wish we had them yesterday, but at the same time, we've also got to make sure that they're healthy enough to play at a high level because they're very good players and good players play when they're comfortable, and they're healthy, and they can go. So, I'm not going to push them but hopefully, like I said, I think they're closer to getting back than they are to not getting back.
Q: Were there lessons learned – I mean you weren't here for those two years but the first two years Darren was here, he tried to play through some things and he wasn't the player he was last year - were there some lessons learned during that time by Darren or by the organization to make sure that he needs to be really close to 100 percent to be what you want him to be?
Coach Jackson: Right. I'm sure there were, but this is kind of the way I feel about it because I don't think that you can play this game of pro football. I mean this is the best of the best at a high level and I think there's a difference between being injured and being hurt; I truly do. And I think a lot of guys play when they're injured. I mean this is a tough sport and there are some guys that can do that but I think when a guy's hurt, you've got to be very careful putting him out there because you're going to hurt a player more than you can help him, which ultimately hurts your football team. So, I never want to do that so we're just going to continue to work at it. I'm excited about some things that I saw today outside, along with you guys, but there's nothing that says, 'Okay, here, we're ready to go this week or anything like that. We'll just keep monitoring this thing day-to-day and go from there.
Q: Was that new for Darren? A light workout and walking around today?
Coach Jackson: I think that was huge. I think that's a step in the right direction.
Q: At this point, do you, after a game, go in and check the opposing scores now? See what Denver does in San Diego or are you still just, 'Our team; we control and we just worry about ourselves?'
Coach Jackson: I have to worry about this football team and I think that's the most important thing. Do I know what's going on around league? Yes, but do I run in to check to see? No, I don't want to play that game. What I want to do is every day that I can help this team get better, focus on that with this coaching staff and these players. We need to continue to get healthier, we need to continue to get stronger, and we've got to finish strong down the stretch and there are some real tough football games that we still have to play. There are five of them and we're going to take them one at a time, and this next one's in Miami and contrary to what their record is – this is a good football team that we're playing and we understand that.
Q:What are the keys for your players to handle success? It's a different kind of season this year. You're going to get a lot of playoff questions starting to come and things like that…
Coach Jackson:Well, first we have to quit reading the hype. We have got to stay away from the media; that's what we have to do. You guys are going to write a lot of things and I'm going to say a lot of things to you that hopefully you guys will write for our players because I think it's really about us just focusing on what we need to do. It's not about any of the hype that people will talk about us; it's about us playing well. It's about us continuing to get better and grow as a football team. It's about us getting better at all the things we need to improve in – the penalty issue, taking care of the ball, getting the ball from the other team and being able to run the ball. I mean we have to continue to get better in those areas because the teams that are going to play later on in January are the teams that accomplish those goals as they head down the stretch.
Q:Richard [Seymour] talked about how sometimes it's easier for guys to pay attention to detail when they know how much is on the line in each game. Is that something you see in guys at this point in the season?
Coach Jackson:I mean it's been awhile since this team maybe has been in this position. So I'm going to say as the head coach, this is what I expect. I expect our players to pay attention to detail and to be on top of everything that we do. So, I don't see any more focus than what I had been seeing, but what I see is a sense of urgency of this team to get it right, to make sure that we're doing everything we can the right way to get healthy, to work with a purpose, and to continue to listen and stay open. Part of this thing in coaching is men believing in what you're selling and what we're selling is a tremendous opportunity here to do something special, and I think our guys understand what's at stake and they're working at it right now like I've never seen. But, this is all I've seen as a head coach so this is what I expect.
Q:Seen in some past games earlier this year, even in some games where the other team starts to get yards and starts to get things going they start reaching the end zone. Yesterday, and the last couple of games, it looks like there's – when you get backed up towards the end zone when you get into red zone defense, you're finding ways to stop drives even after they've gotten them going. What's the difference you think in that?
Coach Jackson:I think the players are doing a good job of not being denied of what they want. They don't want to give up a score and we've given up some that have just been in our terms, kind of cheap scores here and there where we didn't do what we were suppose to do. I think the players understand that if we just do our job and take care of our business that we got a chance to get teams stopped. I mean I said before that I think this defense has the makings to be really special, really good. We're not there yet, but I'll tell you what, these guys are working at it each and every day. There are some special players on that side of the ball and they're playing hard and we have to continue to play hard, it's going to take everything they got down this stretch to get done what we're trying to get done.
Q:How much has Aaron Curry impacted just that with the defense?
Coach Jackson:He's been outstanding. Just his energy, his professionalism, his character, how he comes to practice, how he comes to work every day as a pro, he's been outstanding. Not that they other guys didn't, this guy plays the game, in my opinion, the way it's supposed to be played. You know, with some toughness, some aggression, some enthusiasm and I love that about him and I love what he's doing. I think he's truly impacted our defensive football team, but there's also ten other guys that I think have raised they're level of play and are starting to play the way we can play. I think if you put that all together you have a chance to have the makings of a pretty good defense.
Q:Hue, is there any reason Bruce Campbell really hasn't seen the field much this season?
Coach Jackson:No, it's not any particular reason. We're not going to dress eight linemen. I think you get caught in the numbers crunch a little bit. I just think he got behind in training camp and I think when you start into the season it's very hard to make up that time. Once you kind of solidify who those guys are it's kind of hard to break in and its just like the guy I'm sure when he's sitting in a room the guy who has that job is looking over there saying 'I'm not letting you in either.' You know, because people know once he gets in he's probably going to be in there for a long time. Obviously Coop's [Cooper Carlisle] done a good job; Khalif Barnes has done a good job so far this season. But again, he's going to have his opportunities as he continues to work and get better. He's got to stay healthy and he's healthy now, but we'll find out what he is in time.
Q:Yesterday's rushing defense total deceiving you think?
Coach Jackson:I thought so. The quarterback the last couple of weeks have gotten quite a few rushing yards against our team. But we don't really get caught up in the stats. I get caught up in what it looks like and I know who was making the rushing yards for that team - it was the quarterback and we do have to do better against some quarterbacks who are – who have the capability of running. Just because that's what people are going to do because people know that were loading up to stop the run. So, we have to continue to get better in some areas there's some things we can do a little bit better in that area and we will.
Q:Coach, this is a copycat league and what you've been doing with [Marcel] Reece these last two years at fullback, do you see other teams making their fullback a bigger part of the passing game?
Coach Jackson:I think it's hard to because I don't think there's a lot of Marcel Reeces in this league. I mean he is, he's different because he can play – he probably could play three or four different spots on the football team. He's so valuable because he has that ability to move around. I mean, he can run with the ball, he can catch it, he can block, you can line him up in different places. So, he's a match up nightmare for most teams but you have to have that kind of skill to be able to do that and I think that kind of guy is hard to find in this league.
Q:He's not one of those huge guys as far as the fullbacks that block like Lorenzo Neal or one of those types of guys, but how is his blocking and how much better has it gotten since you've been here?
Coach Jackson:Oh it's getting tremendously better. I mean I think Kelly Skipper's done a great job. When he started off, he was a receiver that was trying to play fullback and he continued to grow. Last year when I was here, to me, he earned it. I mean, he went and did it. He went and wanted to stick his face in there and got better at it and didn't shy away from it. I think the biggest thing that's happened to Marcel this year is just the injury. You know, once he got hurt he was out for awhile. So it kind of puts you behind a little bit, it's no different than any other player. You come back and you have to continue to grow in that area and I think he would tell you that's his biggest emphasis, that he wants to become the blocker that he needs to become for this football team. He's working at it and he's done a good job, but he knows he can get better too.
Q:Obviously, yesterday Sebastian [Janikowski] had the six field goals, but what does that say about him he's been hurt the last month and made 17 of 18 field goals while he's been hurt? What does that say about him?
Coach Jackson:He wants to - he's a pro. He wants to win. As I said yesterday, I can't say enough about either one of those guys - Shane [Lechler] or Seabass. I mean they're tremendous pros. Shane is definitely someone I lean on and talk to about this team; I wouldn't be surprised one day if he ever got into coaching because he's very good at what he does. Seabass, playing here with the Raiders means a lot to him. They're tremendous leaders for this football team and so him making 17 of 18 doesn't surprise me because he wants to win and I think the guy's that good, I really do. I think Shane's really good at what he does also. We're very fortunate here to have two of the best at their position in the league doing what they do. I mean, I'd take our guys against anybody's guys any day, any time, any where because they're really that good.
Q: Is that sort of a testament to the Coach Davis legacy; those two guys being picked in 2000 still doing what they are doing now?
Coach Jackson: Absolutely. I mean, I keep telling you guys Coach did a tremendous job. The opportunity he left me here with; there are a lot of people who want this opportunity to coach this football team. There are a lot of good players on this team and to me - I keep saying 'the time is now,' and I think these guys are starting to get it and starting to buy into it because they can be as good as they want to be. It's the Shane Lechlers, it's the Janikowskis, it's the Coops, it's the Tommy Kellys. It's those guys who have been here, who have been through a lot of the hard times, that are going to be the guys that help get this thing back over the top.
Q: How much of a challenge will Miami be not just in that they have been playing well much better then their record; but the fact that they played on Thanksgiving, they will be at home, you will be going across country, it makes it a much tougher assignment?
Coach Jackson: It does, but again, if we are going to be the team that we want to become, we have to pack a good team, go on the road and play good football. I think we know how to do it. I think our players sometimes look forward to getting on the road and playing, but again, it will a tremendous challenge. But we will start preparing for it on Wednesday and we will get ready.
Q: When you came aboard, you said some nice things about Tyvon Branch and he has played very well of late. What did you see in Tyvon that made you convinced he was going to be a top-notch safety?
Coach Jackson: I think he is a big-time football player. I think he is tenacious, he's relentless, he tackles, and he tackles with his face, he finishes everything he does. I think he loves football, he studies the game, and you don't see a lot of guys like him that are full speed football players all the time. This guy - I don't think he gets enough credit; I keep saying it. I think this guy is one of the best players at his position in this league. I just think people don't know it because we don't highlight that position here. But, he has had a tremendous season and if you really got a chance to watch the tape and study the tape, I think number 33 would jump off the film when you watch him. He is having a heck of a season.
Q: A Pro Bowl season?
Coach Jackson: In my opinion, he is. I mean there are a lot of players on this team that I think are having Pro Bowl seasons, but I can't be the judge of that. Someone else will judge that, but I like my players. I like what our players are doing. I like what they are becoming is what I should say and we are not there yet, but we are going to get there.
Q: Offensive line yesterday sort of had a day not quite up to the par they have had recently or were they just playing a really good front?
Coach Jackson: We didn't play as well as we can play. And we were playing a really good front. But we can play better. I expect that we will, we can. It wasn't Raider-like yesterday, but we will get back to the grind and get this thing back to where it needs to be.
Q: How tough was that match-up for Jared? I know he had the one matchup the week before, shut him out and then Peppers comes in.
Coach Jackson: Hello Jared, hello Jared, this is life in the National Football League. There is Jared Allen, and here comes Julius Peppers and here comes Cameron Wake this week. It doesn't change, it just changes jerseys. There are so many good players in this league that you have to rise up, you can't take a breath, and when you are taking a breath you are getting beat. That's just the way this league is. And again, that's the growth of a young player. From game to game just the consistency of playing as hard as you can play and as well as you can play. Not that our guys don't play hard, because our guys do, but the consistency from week in to week out from play in to play out - man you have got to make sure you are on top of your game at all times because you are playing against the best of the best in this league.
Q:How about Jason Campbell, has he started throwing the ball yet?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, he has been pitching it around a little bit, not very far, but he is pitching it around a little bit. I think he is getting better, we will see where he is here soon and we will just keep finding out about all these injured guys as we move forward.
Q: What do you do with him when he gets back? Os he the number two?
Coach Jackson: Let's see when he gets back.
Q: You have got a lot of guys in here that haven't been a part of a team that has won more than eight games in a year. How do you get those guys to understand what they are about to walk into when the pressure ratchets up and they have a chance to clinch a playoff birth or the AFC West. Is it you or do you lean on guys like Richard [Seymour]?
Coach Jackson: I would hope that I have put so much pressure on this football team that that won't be pressure. You know, that that really isn't the pressure. The pressure is among your teammates - making sure you do your job and play as well as you can play. And that you are accountable to each other, from player to player, from player to coach, from coach to player. We are not going to get caught up in the pressure game. The pressure is us, and what we decide to make it. We know what is at stake. We know what every week means. The only way to ever attain these goals is to keep winning. But you have got to work to win, you have got to go out there and you have got to win games and the only way to do that is prepare. And then go play as well as you can play. I think our guys understand that. So it's not about pressure it's about work. So we are just going to go to work, keep our head down, and keep going.
Q: Did anybody have a background either of coaching or observing [Matt] Giordano closely before he got here, and how did he wind up here?
Coach Jackson: He wound up here by us in training camp needing a couple of safeties and we brought in him and I forgot the other young man that we brought in. He did a great job in training camp and I told you, even at the cut, I really hated to let him go. But at that time we couldn't keep him. But I told him, and he told me, he'd be back. And I knew he would be, I just didn't know when, how, where, but he did and he came back. He is very good at what he does for this football team. He plays hard, plays well, gets everybody lined up, very smart. Again, another one of those guys who plays intelligently to help this team be all that it can be, so he was a find for us. Again, our personnel department brought him in and gave us a chance to work him out. I'm glad he is on this team because he has done a tremendous job also.
Q: He seems to show up when things really matter. His interceptions, all of them have been in real big spots. Yesterday the onside kick, he didn't catch it, but it came right to him. The ball seems to find him.
Coach Jackson: I hope it continues to find him. I hope he keeps catching them and giving us some more interceptions. He has done a great job, and like I said, I'm glad he is here, and he will continue to do what he is doing.