Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: How did [Jacoby] Ford respond from his first day of practice?
Coach Jackson: Good. I was really happy with the way he practiced today. I think he's getting better and it's good to have him back out there. Again, that's a testament to our medical staff. They have done a great job. Like I've told you guys, I've kind of stayed away from it and when they tell me these guys are ready to play, when they put them back out there, they've been ready. So we'll see where he is again tomorrow. I think he responded from yesterday's practice to today's practice and then we'll see where he is tomorrow.
Q: Any chance you'd IR someone this week to add another spot on the roster?
Coach Jackson: No, I probably wouldn't. I think it's too late in the week to do that, to bring somebody else up or in or anything like that. I think we've kind of got we've got. We've been doing this all year and I think we're going to go fight the good fight with who we have and we'll go find a way to make it happen.
Q:Coach, I know you've touched on this a little bit before, but I wanted to know at what point does the [Carson] Palmer decision for you personally become satisfying or validated? Is it now because you're in position for the first time since 2002 or do you have to go deep into the playoffs?
Coach Jackson: Well, for me personally, my expectation is for us to win everything. I think the day we made the trade, in my mind, it was good. There was nothing that caught me off guard. Do I wish we had a better record? Yeah, but I think he's done a tremendous job thus far helping us get to this position. I mean, let's think about if we didn't have him at all where we'd be. We wouldn't be having any of these conversations. So in my mind when we put him on this football team, he gave us the opportunity to be where we are. Now we need to finish it, win the game, have an opportunity to keep playing and keep moving forward, there's no question about that. But I've never wavered on the decision once we made it. We made it and it was for the right reasons at that time for this football team to be in this position and that's where we are. I know everybody is going to scrutinize the decision about why we did it, how we did it and any of that, but I'm not going to worry about that. In my heart, I know why we did it and I know exactly where we are and what we have the opportunity to do.
Q: How hard is it to sit here, it might be now, it might be tonight when you're alone, to think that you could win this week and you need help where you look back and say, 'boy, in that one game if we would have done this?' Or is that something that any coach can…?
Coach Jackson: Everybody does that. Everybody does that, but I don't think you can do that because we're trying to build a program here and we're nowhere close to being where I want this organization, football team, to be. I think the players understand that. I know that, but it is exciting. It's better, in my opinion, than what it's been, by nowhere close to where I think it's going to be. There are still things to do, but we have a huge game this week against the Chargers and to me that's what matters the most and I probably won't breathe a sigh of relief until everything is over and look back at it all. There's so much to go back and evaluate and think through and what if this and what if that. There's so many of those and right now is not the time. There will be a time for all that, but right now it's a time to get ready to go play a game against the Chargers.
Q: Taiwan [Jones] you said was still feeling stuff Sunday and that's why he was inactive. How has he been this week and is that sort of out of it?
Coach Jackson: He's been better. Again, I still haven't seen him just turn it loose yet. And that's kind of what you need to see. I think he's real close. I asked him today, I said, 'how are you feeling,' and he said, 'Coach, much better.' He said, 'I'm practically there.' But still to say that he's exactly where I think he needs to be to play at a high level, I'm going to see it and I think that's just kind of the way I am. I need to see it in order for a guy to be able to do it because I think if the guy shows you in practice, he's going to do it in a game. And I think he's close and we'll find out here in the next day or so.
Q: What about [Michael] Huff? What's he showing you?
Coach Jackson: I think Huff is back, from what I see. I think he ran well, was out there with his defensive teammates. I mean, he took quite a few reps over the last couple of days. So I think he's well on his way. But again, as you know, there's still hours and days left. A lot of things can happen between now and then and so we'll just go from there.
Q: How important is he to have back?
Coach Jackson:Very. He's a veteran player. He's one of the better players on our team. I think any time we can get our guys back, and the thing that I love, I think we're getting healthier down the stretch, the stretch, what does that mean for us? We need to win this game and have some things happen to have the opportunity to stay in this race and I think we can get some guys back healthy and maybe make some noise. But I think that the pieces are starting to come back just like I knew they would, like I thought they would. We just need to get them back and get them back out there playing football.
Q: You obviously have confidence in a certain way about you. How do you feel like you've gotten your players to embody that? Because one of the things you said in the past, there's only first place, there's last, there's no in between, so describe how you've gotten them to embody that.
Coach Jackson: Well, I think we've gone through that period of when things are good and I think they knew what that felt like and then we hit that thing where things were bad. And to me, that's where the good coaches make their mark. You find your way to pull your team out of it. And how we've pulled ourselves out of it is by fighting, by fighting for what we know we need to become here at the Raiders. We're not there yet, but we are starting to get there. And how you do that is just the belief and a mindset that you're going to overcome anything and everything and that's what we've done. We've overcome the penalty issue. I know we get them, I know we're the most penalized team, but we've overcome that and won games. I know we turn the ball over and we've overcome that and won games. And there's times where we haven't won games too, but the thing is in this league, I think if you play hard and you work at it, I think good things happen. I think this team is starting to believe that, that the harder they play, the longer they play, the more opportunities they're going to get and that's what we have to do. And that's my attitude and it's going to stay my attitude as long as I'm here. These players are going to adopt that and that's how we're going to become what we need to become.
Q:The officials that have been out here, have they missed a single day this year or have you had officials for every single practice?
Coach Jackson: I've had them for every single practice, there's no question. Obviously, it hasn't made the biggest difference. We'll talk about all this when the season is over.
Q: To your knowledge, have you ever seen that done before?
Coach Jackson:No, no I haven't. I keep telling you guys I'm willing to do whatever it takes. I have another fan mail that sent me a nice little article telling me how crazy I was and how can you let this go on and what are you doing. Like I said, I'd like everybody to know, trust me, I stay up late at night trying to figure this out. As much as I can, I've worked at that as hard as I've worked at anything. As I say, sometimes it just doesn't happen. Sometimes it just doesn't happen, but we'll have a long discussion about penalties when this season is over I promise you that.
Q: How often do they call penalties during practice?
Coach Jackson: Oh, they call them. I get a list that's on my desk whenever they throw the flag. We get them. The thing that's disappointing is we get an average of three or four in practice. In the game, they're averaging 10 or whatever it is, just unbelievable numbers so we have to continue to deal with it and we will.
Q: Do you have someone that goes through the fan mail or do you do it yourself?
Coach Jackson: I like to do it myself and I've gotten to the point where now, I just tear them up when I just kind of see the envelope, I know what it is, I tear it up and throw it in the trash.
Q: Coach, I know come Sunday your focus will be on the game. Honestly, can you tell us how often you'll peek at the scoreboard to get a glimpse?
Coach Jackson: I won't. I can't. I won't let myself go there. I've already made a promise to myself that I'm not going to do it. The promise I've made to this football team is we're going to play as hard as we can play and take care of our business and when the game is over, then we'll find out exactly where things are. But until then, we can't. We can't be scoreboard watching or wondering or worrying or concerned about that because then we'll take away from what we need to do.
Q: Have you taken a moment to just absorb everything that you've already triumphed over as far as Al [Davis], the starting running back, the starting quarterback and all those things?
Coach Jackson: Nobody in the NFL feels sorry for me. Nobody. There isn't a coach in this league that feels sorry for me. There isn't a fan that feels sorry for me. There isn't anybody that feels sorry for me. Nobody feels sorry for this team, so I know I haven't taken a moment to do that. I'll do that when it's over because at the end of the day my job is to win and our players' job is to win. No one cares that guys have been out, hurt, any of that. No one cares about all that. All they want to see is wins and losses and I get that, I understand that. When I took this job, that's what comes with it. So I don't get caught up in any of that. It's time to win and that's what we need to do.
Q: Sold out again this week – what do you expect the energy to be like in that place?
Coach Jackson: If I know our fans and the way they've been for us all year, it's going to be unbelievable. They'll be on the edge of their seats. They'll bring the noise and the passion and they'll give us extra energy and we need them and I expect them to be as loud as they've ever been. We need a true 12th man this week.
Q: What does it say to you that in your first year that this is the first time they've had more than six home games in a year [sold out], you've been able to get all eight?
Coach Jackson: I think that we're making progress and I'm happy. My hat goes out to our fans for supporting us. What we have to do is give back to them as I've always said. And how we give back is by winning. For some reason, we're much different than what we were a year ago, we were winning in our division at home and on the road. This year it's been on the road and not at home. We need to get that trend changed. We need to win at home. That's what's disappointing to me. We've done okay on the road, but we haven't done what we need to do at home and we need to in 2012, that's going to be the first game of the season, we need to get back to winning at home and make that happen.