Head Coach Hue Jackson
Q: How can you shut down this wide receiving attack?
Coach Jackson: [Laughs] Cover them. What you've got to do – you've got to cover them and make sure we get the quarterback off the spot. He's a tremendous football player. This is a good football team we're playing, but again, that's the National Football League. We've got to get ready to play. It's just that simple.
Q: This is the NFL and everything. Aren't they a little extraordinary I mean when you look at the numbers and the way that they're playing? It jumps out at you – why are they so good offensively?
Coach Jackson: Because I think they're playing with a lot of confidence. They're playing with a lot of confidence. I think they play together. I think there's a tremendous trust of their football team and what they're doing offensively, defensively, and special teams. I mean it's really interesting – this team was kind of in a little different state a year ago about this time. All of a sudden, they put together a heck of a run. They've been on it and they've stayed on it because, again, I think there was some trust built in the room player to player, coach to coach and they've gotten going and obviously there are as good as there is on offense. They're playing good on defense. They're playing good on special teams. They're a really good football team.
Q: As far as [Aaron] Rodgers, is it a team thing that makes him so much better, does he make them better? I mean what is it about his year this year?
Coach Jackson: Well I think what happens is that when you're a really good player, I think you raise the level of everybody else around you and I think it's not just done on the field; I think it's done off the field. I think he does a great job, I'm sure, as the quarterback in the classroom with his teammates and I think he does a great job on the field with getting those guys to play at another level. Obviously, he's proven that. He's one of the best players in this league bar none. I mean he's doing it week in and week out. They're a 12-0 football team and you can't be any better than what they are right now.
Q: The Saints and the Giants are the two teams that have given them the most trouble. What can you learn from those games?
Coach Jackson: What you've learned is that you've got to be balanced. You've got to be able to run it and throw it when you're on offense and you've got to be able to try to slow them down on defense. You've got to get turnovers and you've got to hit the quarterback. I mean at the end of the day, you've got to make sure that he understands that he's in the football game. A lot of the games you see, he's standing back there kind of doing what he wants to do the way he wants to do it and like I said, he's good at it but you have to get after these guys. Again, this is a really good football team but I think we all understand, I mean, it's a team – they're playing as a team and they're playing well, and we've got to go play as a team and play well.
Q: Most people talk about their offense that it's been great. But defensively, they seem to get the critical turnover or the pick-six. How do you guys avoid that critical turnover that can swing the game?
Coach Jackson: We have to take care of the ball. I mean, you have to do a great job of taking care of the ball and making sure that you don't turn it over. I think they're second in the league in getting turnovers. I think they have something like 27 of them. That's what gives their offense even more lag to get turnovers and you look up and they turn them into touchdowns. So, you've got to make sure you're taking care of the ball and I mean you'd love to have a game where you run it 70 times and their offense doesn't come on the field, but we know that doesn't happen. What we're going to do is play as intelligent as we can, as smart as we can, as hard as we can, and give ourselves the best opportunity to go win this football game.
Q: I think the biggest question is what mental team is going to show up Sunday…
Coach Jackson: That shouldn't be a question - what mental team is showing up. Again, we lost one game. What mental team is going to show up is the same team that won three games prior to that. I just think that's an unfair question because everybody's not questioning what mental team, what's this, what's that. Look, we lost a week ago. We had a three-game winning streak and nobody was asking me about the mental of the team then, so why are we going ask about the mental of the team now. Here's the deal – we need to get back to playing football and go win a football game. Bottom line, no ifs, ands, or buts so please when we lose one, I understand all the critics and the things that are going to get asked, but, ask me those same things when we win three and then we've got a good thing going.
Q: Coach, in the past you've talked about how concerned you need to be in bringing the guys back when they're ready not trying to rush it. Is there any added concern going into the frozen tundra? These extreme conditions and dealing with muscles in the cold, do you maybe hesitate if someone would be ready Miami say versus now?
Coach Jackson: Well, I know what you're saying between the heat and the cold. I don't think that's the issue is if the player's ready. If he's ready, we're going to put him out there because that means that medically he's been cleared and he can go do the things he needs to do to help us win. If he's not, then we can't put him out there. I mean it's not going to be I'm going to make a decision because it's cold, it's where it is and, 'boy, maybe we shouldn't play him,' no. Right now, we need every guy that we can get back out here on this football team that can contribute and help us win. So if there's a player that can be back out here, trust me, we're going to put him back out here.
Q: Along those lines, I know you don't like to put a percentage on it but Jacoby [Ford] really seemed trying to get out there for practice last week. Is he the closest or is there anyone...?
Coach Jackson: You know I've stopped even – obviously, I think you all know this has been tough and I've quit trying to put percentages or days or anything on it. What I try to do with this football team is keep us afloat and just keep playing, and when those guys show back up, they're going to show back up and I know they will at some point in time. That's all I can worry about are the guys that are out there practicing and playing and go check on the guys that are not and hopefully we can get them back soon and be a part of this team. Obviously, hey, I mean, it's hard but that's part of it too, so I think the team understands that and we've got to keep playing and keep going.
Q: What's this first year been like for you as a rookie head coach?
Coach Jackson: It's been great. Look, I'm having a blast. I mean I hate when we lose. I'm learning I don't like losing at anything, I never have and I never will so that part has been tough. I like when we win and I even get disappointed when we win because there's things I know we can still do better. My whole thing about this whole organization and the football team is just consistency. When we become a very consistent football team, then I think we'll be something great and that's what I tell the guys. They'll win three, which is what you were referring to, and then lose one, you win two and then lose one – that's what we want to get out of. We need to go on a run here just like that team did a year ago. That team was kind of where we were right now, they went on a run and they've stayed on a run. They're now 12-0 and you can date back to all the games they won prior to that. They've done a tremendous job, why not the Raiders? Why can't we do that, why can't we have that happen for us.
Q: The running game the past couple of weeks hasn't been the way it was before that. Is that the defenses that you've played or are there things you guys need to get back to?
Coach Jackson: I think it's defensively, but I think it's a combination. I think it's the defenses we've played; I think we need to finish blocks better and finish runs better and got to put them in better situations. I mean, at the end of the day, at some point in time, teams are going to learn and people know what we are. We're a team that likes to run the ball, so you're going to stick eight, nine guys, whatever you have to do up there, to stop the run and I think people look at the inactives and say, 'Okay, there's Michael Bush and who else?' So at the end of the day, that's what we're facing and that's okay. Our guys have got to get people blocked and we've got to run like we know we can run and get it done. That's the bottom line.
Q: Carson's [Palmer] being sacked and hit at a higher rate than Jason [Campbell] was. Does some of that have to do with the running game? Does some of it have to do with the fact that you seem to go downfield with a little more and it takes a little more?
Coach Jackson: No, I mean you said that but I don't know that. Now maybe he's been hit a little more the past couple of weeks because, obviously, I think our offensive line has played really well thus far this year. Sometimes it's a combination of things. I know some people think it's just the offensive line. Sometimes the receivers have got to create separation. Sometimes the back's got to be a little bit better in protection, and sometimes he needs to get rid of the ball and I think he understands that. So we've got to do a better job, there's no question about that. We've got to get this ball out of our hands, but we've also got to get guys open as fast as we can so the ball can come out of his hands.
Q: Carson's obviously needed some time to get comfortable in your offense but in terms of his mechanics, arm strength, is he the quarterback you remember?
Coach Jackson: There is no doubt. He's throwing the ball like you wouldn't believe. Carson can make any throw that is needed to be made and I've always said that, and there's no question. There's no problem with his arm, hasn't been a problem with his arm. The guy's playing really good for us and obviously, all the pressure, win, lose or draw, whatever that is falls back on the quarterback. So as I told him, he's got to continue to keep taking his game to another level so this organization can kind of go with him. That's the whole thing. It's going to be he's got to do his part to help lead this team to where we know we can go and he'll do it; there's no question in my mind.
Q: Do you see leadership skills from him even though he came into this team mid-stream?
Coach Jackson: No doubt. He is. He's taking on that role, whether it be with the offense, whether it be with different players, people on defense; he's done it all. So, he's done a great job and I think it's very important that he continues to do that as we go down the stretch here.
Q: How do you deal with Aaron Rodgers mobility?
Coach Jackson: It's tough because we've had some quarterbacks slip through against us here lately starting with the kid at Minnesota [Christian] Ponder, and [Caleb] Hanie. I mean people have kind of got away. What we've got to do is make sure that we build a wall. We can't create creases up front where he can slide through and take off and run because he will. He's a good athlete and he knows what to do with the ball but the thing he does a great job of is when he's running, he's also looking to throw and he's done a tremendous job. So, we've got to do a great job up front creating a wall so that when he does break out of there that we do have somebody there to get him down.
Q: One more injury question – any setbacks with [Darren] McFadden or Ford?
Coach Jackson: No. If anything, there's more positives. Again, they're getting closer. I wish I could tell you what day, what that percentage is but I know that they're getting closer. Now, one other thing I want to address – I think you guys all know CJ [Chris Johnson] is not here because I don't want you guys to get it from somebody else. I'd rather give it to you myself. CJ had a tragedy in his family and so I sent him back to Dallas so that he can deal with it. It's very unfortunate sometimes. Again, this is a game of football. The thing that he's dealing with is a game of life and we'll get him back here pretty soon. Very, very tough situation that he's dealing with but the organization supports him, I support him, he'll get back here and be ready to go. I just want to make sure that you guys know that because you might hear different things. I don't want it to come from anybody else; I want to say it myself so you guys wouldn't say, 'Okay, what's going on? What do we have going on here? Another deal like last week?' No, it's not that at all. I'm going to beat you to the punch on that one.
Q: Was it a death in the family?
Coach Jackson: Yes it is, but it was a very tragic death – a member of his family was basically murdered, so it's a tough deal. Not something that he had anything to do with or anything like that. It's really tough and he's handled it like any man or any brother or son would. He's doing a good job and he'll get himself back here and get ready to play.
Q: Do you expect him back for Green Bay?
Coach Jackson: Yes I do. Yes I do, so I just wanted to make sure you guys knew that and we'll move forward.