Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: Did you guys have a good practice?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, we had a pretty good practice I thought. Practice was good.
Q: I think you had 11 guys not able to go at all. Any chance any of those guys won't be able to make it for Thursday out of the 11 that you mentioned?
Coach Jackson: There's a chance. There's a chance there might be some guys that can't, but we've got another day. Really, we have another day and a half so we'll keep going and see where we are.
Q: Do you have more guys on here than you might normally considering you're playing Thursday?
Coach Jackson: No. I mean we're not holding them out. If a guy is physically unable to practice, then we're not going to practice him. I don't think we're holding anybody out. I think if a guy can go, I think you guys know my deal – we practice. Right now, those particular players cannot go. Now, tomorrow they may be able to. By Thursday, they may be able to but that's yet to be seen.
Q: You have a lot of safeties on that list. Activating [Jerome] Boyd – is that an option this week?
Coach Jackson: Everything is an option. When it's a short week, I mean you've got to do anything you have to do to field a team – to field a good team that gives you the best opportunity to win, so we'll do whatever it takes. That's the one thing I feel very comfortable with, I think our players know that and that's where we are. That's what we'll do.
Q: During a regular week, you say you like to see them practice on Friday or usually if they don't, most of the time they won't play. Is it different with the game on Thursday?
Q:If you don't see them on Wednesday, they still might play?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, there's still a chance because the game is Thursday. I know what you're saying as opposed to our policy during a normal week, but this is a different deal. This is a Thursday night game and bodies are important and if a guy can help this football team win, then he needs to be out there playing.
Q: McFadden has gone about three weeks without practicing. Is there any chance he could play?
Coach Jackson: I don't – again, there's further progress. Obviously he's not out here right now, but I know he's getting better. Exactly where he is is day-to-day right now, which means it's getting better but how close he is to playing; I don't know that for sure.
Q: Has he run yet?
Coach Jackson: He's not out here so…
Q: So he's not ruled out?
Coach Jackson: He's not ruled out yet. I mean tomorrow we'll make that total determination exactly where he is.
Q: You went through it kind of quickly. You said [Carson] Palmer was one of the guys…
Coach Jackson: Yeah he was one of the guys. Oh, he's fine.
Q: What's going on with him?
Coach Jackson: We've got to always put him on there. If a guy has anything, you put him on this list. They should put me on this list. I've got all kinds of aches and pains, but we're fine. We'll be okay.
Q:With [Michael] Huff playing hurt recently, have you done anything scaled back things or aggressive defensive things with Huff?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, I mean we've tried to play to his strengths but I mean obviously it's been a tough year for Mike. He's been bruised all year, but he always seems to make it to the game, goes and plays, and plays as well as he can. That's the one thing I like about our guys and when it's game day, the majority of these guys come back and get ready to play. They find a way. Our medical team does a good job and they find a way and go play. Now, sometimes we're not playing as well as we can because I think you do need practice. I mean some of that is some of the issues we have, but that's part of it. That's life in the National Football League. This team will get healthy at some point in time but we're going to fight on. We have to because that's the nature of this game. You've got to play and our guys will go out there and they'll play well.
Q: How would you assess Taiwan Jones' play on Sunday?
Coach Jackson: I think he did some good stuff. I mean obviously, he's in the mix. He's playing a little bit more, more and more as we go. I mean but again, he's also learning the game. He's learning how to play the game up here at this level and he's working at it. He's done a tremendous job on special teams. I know he wishes he had that one blooper back when he got a penalty called for running into the kicker, but he's done some good stuff as a young player on this football team.
Q: Hue, this is a game where you guys, football players, have to kind of play on the edge emotionally but within control. How much have the penalties, the late hits and stuff as a result of just sometimes going a little over the edge?
Coach Jackson: Hey, it could be. I've got to make sure what's in the water before the game starts or at halftime because again, we're addressing this penalty thing and we're going to get it solved. But, we cannot continue to put ourselves in negative situations. All that does is beat you and we've beaten ourselves here lately, whether it's penalties, whether it's been turnovers, or whether it's not finishing. I think the team understands that; it's something we've talked about and it's something we're going to continue to address.
Q: Is that one of the biggest challenges as a coach? The preparation aside, keeping these guys focused?
Coach Jackson: Absolutely. But, your leaders – you lean on your leaders a little bit more and we have. I think they understand what's at stake here. We're at the down – we're going into the last half of the season, we're playing for something and I think our guys understand that. No more of the uncharacteristic things that we should be doing at this point. We've got to get those things solved and I think we understand that. I think hopefully we'll see a different football team, as far as those things are concerned, as we move forward.
Q: Coach, Ron Rivera left and went to Carolina. They've had some personnel changes on defense. What are the Chargers now on defense? What do you see from them?
Coach Jackson: I still see a very salty, good defensive football team. They've got Takeo Spikes, who they picked up, who was with Greg Munasky in San Francisco and he brings a lot of energy and passion to that team. When you look over there, there are some changes personnel-wise with the structure, the 3-4 defense, how they play, what they're trying to accomplish – it's Munasky's philosophy but it's a lot of the same principles that they had a year ago. So, they're a good football team. I mean we understand that – another team in our division that we need to go play well against and we haven't done that here lately in the last two weeks, so we're looking forward to it.
Q: How similar are they philosophically offensively to what you do? [Philip] Rivers had mentioned today he thought you guys offensively were kind of similar?
Coach Jackson: [Laughs] He did?
Q: With the play action and the ability to throw it down field?
Coach Jackson: No, I mean they throw the ball. They throw the ball well; we're not in that class yet. We're working towards that and we're getting better at being able to throw the ball down the field. I think early in the year, we were really growing and then obviously we hit a rough spot. Last week was last week, but we need to become consistent. I mean I think they're one of the consistent offenses in this league and they do a great job. It's going to be a challenge for our defensive football team, but we also think that we can also be a consistent offensive football team too if we take care of the ball. So, I don't know that we're similar – I'm glad he said that. We do like to throw it down the field, but we also like to be able to control the game with the run and we need to be able to run the football.
Q: Did you see some of the stuff the Packers were able to do just against their defense and doing that exact thing – going down the field and breaking up the secondary?
Coach Jackson: Well the Packers, that's how they play. They're built differently. We're still a team that likes to run the football and we have to run the football. We play to our strengths; we like to run it and we also like to throw it. I like to have a balanced offensive football team and the Packers – they do a tremendous job of what they do. They did a good job in San Diego last week I mean, but we're going to play to our identity and play as well as we can play.
Q: And you also mentioned last week just how obviously you have to structure your offense to your quarterback's strengths, so what does the Raiders offense look like with Carson under center?
Coach Jackson: It looks like an offense that's going to continue to tailor to the players that are out there. We have some injuries here and there. Obviously, we don't have Darren but we do have Michael Bush and he has certain strengths, and we'll play to those and we'll play to Carson's strengths. We'll play to whatever personnel group's strengths that are out there and we don't have a name for it. What it is, is put your players in positions to make plays and that's what you have to do. Last week, we scored 24 points; 24 points wasn't enough so we've got to find a way to score more points – that's the bottom line. This game's about having one more point than the other team and we haven't done that two times now here lately.
Q: Philip Rivers had a great second half last week but overall this season, he's really struggled. Are you surprised? What do you see from Philip?
Coach Jackson: I know everybody says he's struggling because of numbers and I'm sure everybody down there is probably writing about that. I had somebody ask me about that this morning – this guy's still a really good football player. Very talented, one of the elite quarterbacks in this league, and I'm not going to even talk about it because the last time I talked about a quarterback here, I took it in the chin. So, whatever their problems are is their problems. I've got enough problems of my own, so I'm going to worry about these and not worry about theirs.
Q: How encouraging was it – you guys were able to get the ball down the field a little better last week than you have been a lot of the times this season. How encouraging is that?
Coach Jackson: It's encouraging, but we lost. We can get the ball downfield as much as we want, but when you lose, none of that matters. This is about winning. All of the touchdown passes and yards is one thing, but winning football games is our charge and we'd rather have no yards and no touchdown passes if it meant winning. That's what this is all about.
Q: You always joke about having your guys come back. You've got your 'toys' out there. We know you like to do some creative play calling out there. Is it ever, probably a good problem, but is it ever a challenge? You do have so many at the receiver position. How is it for you when you're going in there, especially with Housh [T.J. Houshmandzadeh]?
Coach Jackson: You know what – as a coach having coached that position, I never worry about it. I still believe if you're fair, you're honest and you create opportunities for guys to make plays in games that everybody understands, if the motivation is right. The motivation is winning and I think all of the guys that are in the locker room; they're very competitive and I love that about them. But, they also understand that this is about winning. It's not about an individual. Our quarterback will spread the ball around to anybody if they'll make a play for them and that's what this is all about. I think when you have enough guys like that, then the offense becomes fine. There's not one guy that you necessarily can key on. You've got to worry about all of them and I think we're growing that way, but we've still got a little ways to go. So we'll keep working at it, keep grinding at it, and continue to get better.
Q: Other than maybe Calvin Johnson that you'll get later in the year, is there a more physically imposing, difficult guy to guard than Vincent Jackson?
Coach Jackson: No [laughs]. Why did you have to bring that man up? I don't want to talk about him right now either. I mean he's a good player. I know Vincent personally; he's a good player, we've got a lot of respect for him but I mean again, it's a challenge for us and we like challenges. We've got a big challenge against this football team' we've got a big challenge within this division to get it back right, get off this slide that we've been on, we're on Thursday Night Football, NFL Network, national audience – let's go play.
Q: Fundamentally, how do you combat that kind of size and speed advantage that Vincent has?
Coach Jackson: You try to find a way to slow him down [laughs]. You do anything and everything that you think it takes to make sure that he doesn't have a good night. Our good players – our corners have got to put their hands on him, they've got to get in his face, we've got to harass him and knock him off his routes while he's going to be doing everything he can to stay on his routes and catch passes. So, it's a challenge but it's fun. This is what the National Football League is all about. Every week there's going to be something. Last week, it was a different type of quarterback. This week, it's Philip Rivers and how they throw the ball, how they run the ball, the shifting and motioning that they do – I mean that's the challenge of being in this league.