Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q:Coach, does this have the potential to be kind of a trap game?
Coach Jackson:Oh wow, trap game, here we go with those. No, there are no trap games in the National Football League. When you lose you lose, when you win you win. There's no such thing as a trap game. We go down there and play like we can play, we're going to give ourselves the best opportunity to win. If we lose, it won't be because it was a trap, it's because that team whipped our butt. That's what it comes down to; there aren't any trap games in the National Football League in my opinion.
Q:How tough is the noise back there?
Coach Jackson:It's really tough. I was back there I think in '09, last time I was there and it was very loud. We tried to simulate it out here, you know, obviously it's not the real thing because that's a dome and things bounce off the dome, but we got to handle it the right way. It's something I talked about with the team this morning. We can't have excuses of why we are going to jump offsides or have illegal procedure penalties; that can't exist. We have to handle the elements, we got to take care of that and we got to go play good football.
Q:What edge does it give Jared Allen a pass rusher when you get that noise at home?
Coach Jackson:He has a tremendous edge. I mean obviously the guys one of the best in the league at what he does. So again, we have to be - if we're focused and we're disciplined and we're there coming from the right place as a football team, I think we'll be fine.
Q:What do you tribute to the road success that you guys have had? 3-1 on the road at this point.
Coach Jackson:I just think that we pack a good team. We come with the right attitude, our focus is good, I think the guys handle themselves well on the road and they do a good job.
Q:Still progress from [Darren] McFadden? You're still seeing progress?
Coach Jackson:Oh yes, I'm seeing a lot of progress. Yeah, I've seen him out here today for the first time in a long time. So it was good, it was good to see him, but again, not where we need to be yet, we're not there, but we're working at it. Like I said, he's getting closer to being back out here than not being back out here.
Q:Off crutches walking and stuff?
Coach Jackson:I've seen Darren McFadden without a boot, standing out here with his teammates today for the first time in a long time. So to me, that's huge progress, but again, to know exactly where that is, when I get done I'll walk in and see our medical people and find out exactly where he is.
*Q: *How much does it help having Carson Palmer to go into a hostile environment like Minnesota, knowing the big games he's played in?
Coach Jackson:Oh no doubt, it helps a lot because I think that from the coaches down to the veteran players, we have to do a good job at making sure the young players understand the type of environment we're about to go into. This will be a hostile place to play and, again, they're a very talented football team and I have so much respect for the head coach. So it's going to be a challenge, but you know what, this is the schedule. It's time to play and the Raiders have to get ready to play this Sunday.
Q:How much does it help that you guys had [Rolando] McClain back last week, the run defense looked a lot better, you're going against a great running game, and how much is that going to help?
Coach Jackson:Yes, I've said before, any time you can have your good players out there playing you're going to be better for it. Whether it's McClain, whether it's McFadden, whether it's Jacoby Ford, whoever all that is, but as I said before, we're not going to complain when they don't play. The next guy that's on this roster has got to step up and play and we expect them to play well. That's the name of the game in the National Football League.
Q:What do you think of Christian Ponder? What are your impressions?
Coach Jackson:I think he's very talented, I mean he's a young player who's athletic, who can make all the throws. I think he does a great job at running their offense, keeps his poise. He can be dangersous, so we have to do a great job at making sure we get after him. But the number one guy on their offensive football team is obviously Adrian Peterson. I mean that's where it starts for them and that's were it ends with him on offense. So, that's a huge advantage to have when you have a guy like him that can run the ball.
Q:Carson it seems like he has - the team has adapted to him very well as a leader. How difficult has that been and how remarkable has it been in such a short period of time for him to take over?
Coach Jackson:Again, I know everybody within this organization had been criticized about the move, about making that decision to bring him here and that's fine, everybody has their opinion and they can and I get that. But at the end of the day all those characteristics that you guys were saying he exhibits is why he's here. That's why you go out and get that guy because of what you just said. Let's take the other scenario, I would have brought somebody in here that I didn't know, somebody I had no rapport with whatsoever and put him on this football team and say, 'okay help us out, let's see if you can get us to this point.' I guarantee you we wouldn't be in this situation right now. That's just my honest opinion. So, there's a lot that goes into making decisions and why you make them and I know without a doubt we made the right decision for the right situation for this football team. Obviously, it's proven to be true. It's not totally proven yet, but we've got seven more games to prove this to be the right decision for this football team.
Q:Is this a game where Carson can take another step towards being a leader having the experience that he has?
Coach Jackson:Absolutely, I think it's another game for him to take another step in getting better with this team and leading this team and being the type of player that I know he is. He likes big challenges; he likes to rise up to big challenges and he's got to take this team on his back along with the defensive football team and let's go play.
Q: What is it in his personality take away from what he does on the field that the players seem to embrace and gravitate around Carson?
Coach Jackson:He's a winner. I mean he likes to win, the guy works to win. He has an expectation just like we all do. I think those guys are - they just have it and he has that 'it' quality that he wants to be good at what he does and he expects his teammates to follow him and he wants to lead them. But he has something that I think you have to have to play this game at a high level and obviously he's demonstrated it throughout his career.
Q:Being in first place, do you mention that much to the team at all?
Coach Jackson:No, I don't think, I mean – as I told the team, we understand the situation we're in, but we're not going to talk about it. We're going to put our heads down. We've got seven games; we are going to take this thing one at a time. I think everybody writes and everybody talks about it but we know the situation we're in and we're not going to run from that, but at the same time I think we all understand that there are a lot of games to be played and we need to continue to get better. We need to focus on that. The rest of the thing about where it ends up, how it ends up; it's going to take care of itself.
Q:Everybody speaks about Adrian Peterson, Darren McFadden, high profile running backs. What does it mean to have Michael Bush on your roster? How reassuring to you is having him on your roster?
Coach Jackson:Very reassuring because he's a good player. I mean obviously Adrian Peterson is one of the best in this league. In my opinion, Darren McFadden is one of the best in this league too. But let me tell you, Michael Bush is one really fine football player in this league also. There are a lot of teams that would love to have him, but he's ours and he plays for the Raiders and he's done a fantastic job. He's up to the challenge and ready to play and he will be this Sunday.
Q:Minnesota is at their best usually in past years if they're beating you on the offensive line, they're beating you on the defensive line, and they're pretty physical especially at home. Is this kind of a classic bully game for you guys, so to speak, seeing that you have to perform well on those two sides?
Coach Jackson:Absolutely, our front seven on defense and our offensive line - they have to come to play. I mean, that's where the games will be won and that's where the games for us this year when we've won, have been won. When we haven't played well in those two areas is when we haven't. Contrary to what anybody believes, that's where it's at. That's how you win football games in the National Football League. We keep talking about building this bully; I think we're on track. We're not exactly where we need to be yet, but I think we're working at it. Defense has gotten better, offense is playing better. What we got to do is stay consistent throughout the last half of this season to get to where we want to go.
Q:You've been able to try to bring [Michael] Huff along with this ankle injury for most of the season; was last week a deal where the game on Thursday hurt him and he probably could of played if it had been a Sunday?
Coach Jackson:No doubt, I mean, trust me Michael Huff wants to play every football game, but at some point and time as a head coach I've got to step in and say look, 'I just don't think it's good for you,' and kudos to him. He's done a heck of a job fighting through it every week, but I seen an opportunity to give him a little more rest. You know the game was so close, trust me I almost have to fight him to get him not to play and he didn't and I think we'll be better served for it. I think he has a chance to be a little healthier than what he's been in quite a while.
Q:[Richard] Seymour is he just resting or what's his status?
Coach Jackson:Oh, he's going to be fine. Richard's going to be fine. I mean, again, we've got some guys that we got to make sure we take care of and look out for. This is a long season and we have to make sure we get guys to the game healthy.
Q:Was McClain full out there today?
Coach Jackson:Yes, he practiced and did a good job.
Q: How's [DeMarcus] Van Dyke?
Coach Jackson:Good, he was out there today practicing. He was out there going. I mean a lot of these guys – it's getting fun around here right now. People want to get back and get back to playing. I think that's important, I think everybody sees what's ahead for this football team if we can keep working, keep winning, keep growing and keep getting better.
Q:Is there some competition for that starting job this week or do you already know if Van Dyke is back in?
Coach Jackson:I haven't really sat down with the defensive coaches yet. I think today was the first game plan practice, but we'll talk about it and see where we are. But I liked a lot of things that Lito [Sheppard] did; I think Lito did some good things and there were some things he could do better too. But overall, I think it's just good to have the bodies back out there, so that we have those options to be able to discuss. Last week we didn't have many options to be able to talk about getting this guy starting or that guy starting; it was just you're playing and that was about the extent of it.
Q: Last Thursday night was a pretty emotional game, division rival. How do you avoid a let down in Minnesota?
Coach Jackson:We can't have a let down, there isn't such thing. We can't have it; I'm not going to tolerate it. Again, like I said, we're going to win a game, and if we don't it won't be because I know everybody got all these sayings 'well it's a let down, it's a trap game, it's this, it's that.' That's what it comes down to in the league - you either win or you lose, either you play good enough on game day to win or you did not play well enough on game day to win. There's no in between, so we need to go play. I'm not worried about this team letting down. We're not in a position to let down. We have got to ratchet this thing up and continue to get better and focus and play to win.
Q: What are the things that [Jared] Veldeer has to do to slow down Allen?
Coach Jackson:We have to acquire and be able to play with 15 guys on offense. That's what we got to be able to do. No, obviously he's a really good football player, but I believe Jared is up to the challenge. Don't worry about that, Jared is going to go out there and play and I know that. But obviously he's probably one of the best guys in football at what he does and we have to get him blocked and I have to be able to help him from play calls. We have to be able to do things that put Jared and the offense in running position to get this front block.