Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Coach Jackson:Obviously, we lost another great Raider today. I got to know Chester [McGlockton] myself personally since my time here. I'd like to give – I'm sure from the team, the organization, myself - would like to give our blessings, our prayers, to his wife Zina and their two beautiful kids. I got to know the young man in church at The Well where the pastor Napoleon Kaufmann is the pastor so this morning when I found out the news, it was kind of tough and there are some guys here on this staff that obviously played with him, and there are players here that know him. But, I think it kind of hit them pretty hard – a young man who was just starting to do so many other great things in his life and then all of a sudden, life is taken away, but obviously God has a bigger plan for him. One thing I do know about him is that he was a God-fearing man that spent his time in church and with his family, so we're going to miss him and it's tough, but that's a part of this thing. I talked to the team about it today; it's just the opportunities you get in this life, you just never know when it's going to be over, but those things happen and he'll always be in our thoughts, in our prayers. But, we're going to miss him tremendously, so again, our thoughts go out to his family.
Coach Jackson: So again, we have that long list [injury report] again and as we move on through the week, hopefully we'll get some of these guys off the list. But I thought today was a good practice; a good, spirited practice for the men who did participate. I know we've got some guys in there working doing everything they can to get back out there as fast as they can, but that's how our day with work started off and we'll keep going from there.
Q: You had such a big week from [Sebastian] Janikowski this last Sunday. Obviously anything new with him?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, we've just got to see where he is. I mean, maybe he kicked too many field goals, you never know, but no, he did an excellent job. Hopefully, we'll get him back out here soon. I think he'll be fine, but again as I told you, I'm always going to be cautious with these players. We've got some big games down the stretch here and we've got to have all of our guys back as fast as we can, but we'll get these guys healthy. Our medical staff is doing a great job. We'll continue to push the guys we can push and we'll continue to take care of the guys we have to take care of.
Q: Hue, you guys play so well on the road but you're playing again a cross-country team. What's that challenge especially like this week?
Coach Jackson: It's a challenge because you get on a plane and go on there for about five hours, and it's Miami. South Florida, all the surroundings and the things there; you've addressed it and we know what we need to do. We've got to pack a good team, just like I always say. We've got to pack our best football team, go down there with the right focus, with the right thought process and go play a big time football game, and that's what we intend to do.
Q: You said [Denarius] Moore did not practice?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, he did not. He did not practice.
Q: He had a helmet on; did he try?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, he was out there. He was out there, but he didn't want to push it too much. We'll get him back as soon as we can.
Q: Jacoby Ford was kind of running around out there. Do you think he could go and at least practice tomorrow?
Coach Jackson: We'll see. Again, you've got to get in and it's always after a guy has run around if they're still sore, how tender they are. We've got to make sure that guys can handle that pounding and when a guy is jogging, as you guys know that doesn't say much. This game is played at full speed 100 miles per hour, so again, I'm going to take our medical staff's advice and then I'm going to take a look myself and do what I think is best, along with the medical staff, what's best for this team and the player.
Q: Hue, you've had so many key players; your playmakers on offense out and a lot of speed missing yet your offense is still doing the job out there. What's it just say about this offense battling that adversity and then how potent they can be when you have all your targets there?
Coach Jackson: Well, we have an expectation here. I think we know how to play offense. We've just got to get some guys healthy but as I said before, we're not going to make excuses. Once we get everybody back, I feel like we have a chance to be really good. I think we've been very solid. I think the quarterback's done a good job. I think the guys that are playing week in and week out have done a good job and they've shouldered the load. But it'd be nice to get all these guys back very soon and see what we can be because there are no guarantees of that either. They need to practice together and work together before you know what they can truly be and we haven't had it like that so the fun part about is I don't think we worry about it anymore. We're just going to play with who we have and those guys perform, and it's 'next man up' and on we play. But, I think everybody wants to know potentially what we can be, but we'll never know what that is until we get them all healthy and get them out there.
Q: Hue, you've had a lot of close games that you've won this year. This is something that hasn't happened since '02. I can't remember a Raider team that's won this many close games. How important is that for you?
Coach Jackson: It's very important because as you go down the stretch here, these games are going to be close; they're going to be tough. I mean we all wish we had those blowouts where you're sitting there in the fourth quarter smiling, but that's not really the way it is in the National Football League. I mean, hopefully we'll have one here really soon at some point in time, but we know that we need to become a more mentally tough football team and I think that builds that confidence. I think it builds that character of your team when you've got to grind something out and nothing's going to be given to us. We understand that and we know it's going to be tough – this team kind of likes it that way. I don't like it that way, but I think they're okay with it. As long as it ends in wins, I think they're okay.
Q: Matt Moore has really come on for Miami the past few weeks, Reggie Bush has provided a spark and Brandon Marshall is Brandon Marshall. What kinds of challenges does Miami present for you?
Coach Jackson: Oh boy, he just said it. You just named three guys I think that are playing well – Reggie Bush has gone there and helped rejuvenate the offense. Brandon Marshall is who he is. He's been a good player where he's been, whether it's Denver or Miami. He knows how to catch the ball and get open, create separation and the young quarterback is playing good. I mean, obviously, we've watched his growth over the weeks and again and again, Tony Sparano does a good job so our defense knows that this is a very talented offensive football team. They have good blockers; I mean the left tackle is one of the best linemen in football, so this is a good football team. It's a tremendous challenge, but again, if we're going to be the type of team we want to be and what we're trying to become, these are the teams we've got to play. Irregardless of records or anything like that, irregardless of travel, irregardless of it being South Beach, any of that – we have to line up and keep our focus one game at a time, put our head down and grind and play like we know we can.
Q: Of all the places that you've been, have you ever been with a team before where a punter has been accorded the kind of status where he spoke to the team after a win?
Coach Jackson: Probably not and obviously, that was a lot of my doing because I truly believe in him as a player. He's not just a punter. I think he's been here when it's been really good, he's been here when it's been really bad and I've had so many just personal conversations with him. I lean on him for so many different things and I don't just see – and I understand what you're saying, but I just don't see him just as a punter. This guy is a huge part of this football team not just because he kicks, just because of what he's been through here. I give those guys, those veteran players on this football team, so much respect that way because I think they've earned it because I watch how he's worked and I've watched the things he's been through and I've listened to the things they've been through. Now, we've got to start reaping some of the benefits of the hard work that those men have put in and they've got to give it back into this team. They've got to be the guys that go and share the message with the rest of this football team with the opportunities that they have. That's why he's so important and he is very good at what he does too, so that's where we are.
Q: Cameron Wake took an interesting route to get to where he is. How did people miss on him? What makes him so good?
Coach Jackson: I wish I would have found him. He's really good. I mean the guy knows how to go get the quarterback. He's relentless, he's another one of the pass rushers in this league that you can't take a rest on. I mean he's relentless, he doesn't stop, he has a high motor, he has a burning desire to get to the quarterback and he plays the game that way. He's a sparkplug for that defensive football team but they have several. It's not just him; Yeremiah Bell – to me, people don't talk about him enough. I think the guy's a tremendous football player. I've competed against him before and this guy's always around the ball. [Karlos] Dansby; I mean they have so many other players on that football team. Vontae Davis, I mean they're a good defensive football team. Their stats prove that, they play good, they've been solid so again, it's another tremendous challenge for our team.
Q: You and [Tony] Sparano go back. It seems like he's hung in there after a tough start and his team is playing well right now…
Coach Jackson: He's a finisher. I know a lot of things get said about coaches in the league, but I know what Tony Sparano's made of because I've spent time with him and I knew eventually that this thing would turn because he's too good of a football coach. You can't have the success he's had everywhere he's been; our time in Washington, his time in Dallas and now as the head coach of the Dolphins, it's going to stay like that. He's as fine a football coach as there is in this game, so I knew that eventually it was going to get turned and kudos to him because he stuck to it and they've stuck with him and he's done a good job.
Q: You just touched on this a second ago, but obviously no such thing as an easy win in this league especially on the road. But, do you see this game as kind of an incremental step in the development of this team? When you look at the record, certainly you go, 'Okay, this is one that the Raiders should win' and if you go in and win those kind of games, it's another step in the development as a team.
Coach Jackson: Absolutely. I mean because as you go down the stretch here, I've said it – I think I've been saying it now for three weeks, 'It's winning time.' Ever since we were 4-4, it's time to win. In order to achieve our goals, I don't care where we play; you've got to go win football games and we think we have a pretty good football team and we have to show that when we play. It would be a huge step coming to be 8-4, have that opportunity to be 8-4 after a long trip to Miami would be unbelievable for this football team. But, I think we understand no one is going to hand us anything. We have to go play as hard as we can play and as well as we can play.
Q: You've talked before just about Marcel [Reece]. Could you expand on what makes him so unique at that fullback position because you've utilized him in certain roles?
Coach Jackson: Well, I think the most important thing is we come up with different ways, as I said a long time ago, to get the ball to our playmakers' hands and he is a very skilled athlete. He blocks, he catches, he runs and he's smart. He's very intelligent, so you can put him in so many different spots and when you have a guy like him, somebody's got to match up with him. Is the team going to play a linebacker on him? Is the team going to play a safety on him? Is the team going to play a corner on him? So, you try to take advantage of those things and he's shown that he can make plays. The more times you give it to him, the more plays he makes, so he's a little different than most fullbacks in this league. I haven't seen another one like him; I've never been around anybody like him so he's very valuable to what we do. The quarterback likes him because he has that skill and Jason [Campbell] was the same way. They adore the guy because one, he protects them in protection, but he also makes plays for them in the run game and the pass game. So, he's done a tremendous job and I only think he's going to get better. I think once we got him healthy, I think he started to really come on now and I think the healthier he gets, the better he's going to get.
Q: How has Michael Bush responded to the physical pounding that he's taking the past three or four weeks now?
Coach Jackson: He's been awesome. I mean I've been around guys that carry the ball like that and come to Wednesday's practice and they can't move, regardless of whether you gave them 'Victory Monday' off or not. They just couldn't move because physically, it's tough. He hasn't batted an eye, and I don't make a big deal about it because I don't think I have to. I watch him and he goes to work. He was out here today and he was running around and he's handled it as good as anybody I've ever seen – 24 carries last week, 30 however many times in weeks before that, he hasn't blinked. But, he's not wearing down. I think he's getting stronger and that's the knack of a really good back and that's what you have to have in this league. You have some guy that you can ride when you need to ride him and obviously, we've been riding him quite a bit lately.
Q: How important was it to stick with the run in the Chicago game last week? You didn't run for a ton of yards, but you stuck with it…
Coach Jackson: You have to because that's the foundation of our football team. I think if you become one-dimensional, I think you're very easy to expose yourself to other opportunities from the defense. We're going to always continue to run the ball here. I mean sometimes, games dictate otherwise but down the stretch here I truly believe, I've said this before – you throw to score, you run to win and you've got to be able to run the ball this time of a year. Whether it's not so much the yards, it's the attempts. It's just the attempts of trying to because eventually something good will happen. So we didn't run the ball the yards that we normally do, but the attempts were very important this last week.