Raiders Owner Al Davis introduces new Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Updated January 19, 2011, at 1:20 p.m. PT.
Mr. Davis: Thank you very much for coming. I didn't think you'd all show up but I'm glad you did. We have a lot to talk about, both ways. I'm sure you have some questions of me and I have some questions of you. But, for the moment, I want to introduce Hue Jackson's family; his wife Michelle, his daughters, his mother, and they've both come, and her sister, and they come from Los Angeles. Michelle comes from Cincinnati where they had been living and they had been living out here too. And then his renowned agent, we always deal with agents, Kennard McGuire from Tennessee, and has a lot of great players in the National Football League and was a student at the University of Tennessee and came across many of our ex-players, namely Willie Gault and a few others that we keep eternal bond with.
Today is a big day for the Raiders because we have the opportunity to bring to you someone who has made a tremendous impression on the organization and did a great deal for the organization this past year. First let me say that one of the writers in this room wrote a little story about a few weeks ago and named what he thought were the five most important things the Raiders did in the year 2010 to bring back some of, some of the excellence that we own from past decades and past years. I thought I'd list those things to you and say that one of the things he talked about was the great draft that we had for the 2010 season, and we did have a great draft by all acclimation and by the way they played. It was a great group, a group that we think will dominate in the years to come at certain positions and fortify us in the long run.
Another point he made was the trade on draft day for Jason Campbell, to the Washington Redskins, for a fourth in the 2012 season. And then Jason came a long way in the year 2010 and you have to go back to the quote I gave and a lot of you took me up on it, the quote I said that he reminds me of Jim Plunkett, at this particular phase in his career. I said it then and I believe it now but I also believe that Jim Plunkett was one of the truly great players of our time; won two Super Bowls and has never gotten the acclaim he desires or deserves. He was a Heisman Trophy winner, he was a Super Bowl winner, he did as much in pro football as John Elway did, who it took 15 years to win a Super Bowl, somewhere close to that. I remind you that these things don't come quickly to anyone. We all espouse the greatness of Brett Favre; one Super Bowl that he won with the Green Bay Packers. So, what I was saying to you, was that my gestalt saw in Jason Campbell someone down the road who can really throw that football, can run; there are some things we have to do with him but I think the guy who is going to be handling him in the future knows what to do and how to do it. One point I want to make, it might be of interest to you; Cam Newton is the quarterback for Auburn, and they were the national champions this year. When Jason Campbnell played for Auburn, he was 13-0 his senior year. I want you to all check it out with all your, a lot of you have scouts and this, who the better player was coming out of college, Jason Campbell or Cam Newton.
The third thing that this writer wrote about was the belief in Darren McFadden and Tommy Kelly; both of them came to the forefront this year. I wish Kelly had played a little bit better like this in the past because the guy who got him to do it knows how to get players to play and knows what it takes to be a great defensive lineman, plus he has some people with him who are already established as great players, and that will be interesting to watch that.
A fourth thing, the guy was very bright; he said the hiring of Mike Waufle helped a great deal in the excellence on the defensive line for the Raiders this year.
And then the fifth thing, he said the hiring of Hue Jackson, and he couldn't have been more right. The guy came in, he was given the authority to run with the offense, he met some opposition from time to time, but he took it and ran with it and we scored points.
I've sat here with you in the past and there are some of you who have said "what do you need most," and two different times, I think if you check your cell phones or whatever you use to quote me, score points. We couldn't get in the end zone, we don't score points. And gentleman, I tell you, that they're young, but this football team has the most explosive players that have been together in a long time, at every offensive position. The fullback is dynamite, he can go all the way on any play. The halfback, McFadden and Bush, complement each other tremendously with explosion. The four wide receivers, where Schilens doesn't give you maybe the explosion you want, he gives you the big play and he gives you the first down. And then of course, the tight end is just a bright young player, Miller. And then the quarterback is Jason right now and what we have to rely on is the guy that I'm turning the banner over to, the baton over to, so he can lead this Raider Nation, the fans, and bring back those touchdowns in that Coliseum. You've got to score points to win, you can't win without scoring points and then you've got to knock someone down, and that's what Waufle was here for too.
But today, I want you to meet the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders, I'm proud as hell, Hue Jackson.
Hue Jackson: Thank you coach. Thank you so much for this opportunity to address you today.* *Glad you guys are all here. A lot of you I know, I'm sure a lot more of you I'll get to know as we move to through this process. First I want to take the time to thank my family for being here. All of you thank you for being here. My agent Kennard, thank you. Thank you for everything. To everyone in the Raider organization, I thank you for this opportunity and Coach, I really appreciate the opportunity of you giving me this baton and my job is to do everything that I can to take this team to where we know we want to go which is the Super Bowl. Obviously as a very talented and young football team here, as Coach just talked about, we have some tremendous football players on the offensive side of the ball. Darren McFadden, Jason Campbell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, Michael Bush just to name a few and then obviously with the draft picks from this past season, Jared Veldheer coming in as a rookie and playing like he played for us, the future is so bright for the offensive side of the ball.
When you talk about the defensive side of the ball, obviously we start with Rolando McClain. I'm talking about a very young player who I think that the sky's the limit for, but obviously the cornerstone of what we do over there is still through the Richard Seymour's, the Shaughnessy's, those guys have done a great job. The Tyvon Branches. This is a very young talented team that this past season did very well in the AFC West. Obviously we were 6-0 in the west and we all know we got to do better outside of our division but that challenge is what we're looking forward to.
What I'm most excited about is the environment that's starting to be created here. The process is in place. We're going to create an environment here for our players to be great and that's what we're chasing. We're chasing greatness. When I came here a year ago, my goal was to build a bully on offense. There's no question in my mind that that process is underway. We were the second ranked team in rushing in football. We did score points, obviously not enough to our liking, where we want to go, but we think, again, that the players are in place for us to have the opportunity to get it done. I am so proud to stand before you today and to have this opportunity to take this football team where I know we can go because there is no question that we are going to win this division and that we're going to get in those playoffs and we are going to challenge for the Super Bowl. That's what I'm here for.
Obviously, when I came here a year ago, a lot of things were said. 'Why you want to go work for the Raiders?' One, I'm from California and I love being back home, but two, the opportunity to work for Coach Davis. I know a lot of people quote me when I say 'Coach' cause he is a coach. He was one of the greatest coaches of our time coaching a football team. I want all you guys to know I've worked for a lot of owners in this league. I've been on four different football teams. I started with Dan Snyder; I worked from there to Mike Brown, from there to Arthur Blank, from there to Steve Bisciotti. I'm not saying this because I'm sitting here, I'm being very honest with you and they are all excellent at what they do, but I've never had the opportunity to sit and talk football. The X's and O's and what it takes to win in this league consistently on a consistent basis. There's nothing like working for Coach Davis. I know a lot of stuff gets said about this and that but I'm telling you I'm here. I'm a walking testimony of coming here in the first and having an opportunity to make something great.
We're not where we want to be, but I'm so excited about the opportunity about the men that are sitting in the back of that room, Mike Waufle, Kevin Ross, guys that I've known this past year and we did everything that we could to get this organization to what we want it to be and none of us are satisfied. All of us are ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work so I'm glad to be here, glad to be the head coach of this football team. I plan on being here for a long time and glad to see all of you here today.
Q: Coach, you are here because of scoring over 400 points, but now that you've moved into the hot seat, we are hearing rumors Al Saunders might be coming in. How much are you still going to be involved with the offense? Are you still going to be calling all the plays?
Hue Jackson: Yes I am. I'm going to be the primary play-caller but we are going to do everything we can to recruit the best staff for the Oakland Raiders. Obviously, the name you just mentioned was someone that is out there that we would love to talk to, but there are several people that we are going to talk to. We're going to do everything we can to put the best staff here at Oakland.
Q: I'd like to talk about the quarterback situation a little bit more and maybe explain why Jason Campbell and why you think he's going to solidify that position and how much JaMarcus Russell's draft set back this franchise?
Mr. Davis: JaMarcus is gone. When I decided sometime in June or May of this year that we no longer, as an organization, can fight the battle of personal problems for certain players. We tried it in the past. We had been successful for some of the greatest players who've ever played professional football and we failed. With some of the greatest players who ever played professional football, who had personal problems and we had a big investment in this guy. Basically, he's a good person and he's got personal problems and I decided that we weren't going to fight it anymore. I wasn't going to. I wasn't going to ask the coaching staff to do it and I had already traded for Jason and I had that in the back of my mind and we had Gradkowski coming off an injury who showed some ability to be a quarterback in this league and that was the thing with JaMarcus. It hurt us a great deal but you got to go on. You got to overcome those things and we almost did this year. We had a shot this year with about five games to go to make the playoffs and if we had gotten in the playoffs, there's no telling how far we could go because we have a defense, if we can keep them together, that's coming of age, that's a tough group. They beat people up and I don't mean that negatively but they're tough and they don't like to play us. [Richard] Seymour leads the pack with [Tommy] Kelly. We've got a young guy there who's going to be good, [Desmond] Bryant. We've got three young guys on the outside, but JaMarcus hurt. Any time you lose a first round draft choice it hurts, but it's over.
Q: If you knew how great Jason was…
Hue Jackson: Yeah, I think we all know the history here this past year when Jason came in and started off as out starter and early in the year we made the switch to Bruce. I think any time you come into a different environment, coming from Washington to Oakland, for most players, sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get comfortable. I think sometimes its unfortunate that it ends up that way, but I think that's what happened and obviously that was well documented. But I think what happened was that I got to know Jason and Jason got to know me and he got to know his teammates. As he said numerous times that he felt so much more comfortable dealing with the players on our football team. Obviously, we wish that process would have happened faster, but in my opinion, over the last seven weeks, six weeks of the season, I don't think the young man - he played flawless. He played almost as good as you can play as a quarterback in our league, led us to some very impressive wins and I look forward to him doing the same thing this year. Having another year in our system, same system, opportunity to go out with the same teammates and go out and play the way we know he can play. We are going to create an environment for the quarterback, which I've always said to be great. We're not totally there yet but we're working to get there.
Q: With so much labor uncertainty and potential free agents on this team, how much of a challenge is that? Putting the team together, a roster and beyond that how many people on your staff right now are going forward?
Hue Jackson: Obviously, the CBA is going to really take care of itself. Obviously, it's going to be a challenge for any team in our league but there's going to be a plan in place so that we are able to make sure that we have a very good football team. Again, there is no question and I know Coach Davis is doing everything he can to make sure that we put the best product on the field for our organization, for our fans, for everyone, so I'm very comfortable in that. Obviously I don't know exactly how that's going to go but we will be prepared for it. Right now our staff is, I've mentioned some guys that are sitting in the back of the room, and obviously I think as we continue to move forward there's going to be some changes. I think we all know that. I think you guys have already documented one that's made and there may be some others. I think that right now I really don't want to get too much into that. Obviously there's protocol of how we've got to go about contacting other people at other places. Let me say this, this is the most important thing, we are going to put the best staff here for the Oakland Raiders that we can and obviously it's going to be the Raiders staff. We're going to have a very good staff that everybody can be really proud of, that our players are going to be very excited to play for. We're going to go out there and play football the way we know how to play.
Q: Is it an advantage that you are already on the staff?
Hue Jackson: Oh, there is no question that it is an advantage that I am here. I have been here with our players; our players have been very supportive. Today alone I have gotten 20 text messages from our players, who are very excited about me being here being the head coach and they cannot wait to get back here. I think our players know, as I talked about earlier, we are going to create an environment here for our players to be as good as they can be on offense, on defense and special teams.
Q: Do you look to strengthen the wide receivers, when you have someone like Chaz [Schilens] who has been injured for quite some time and come back at the end of the season, do you look to bring in a veteran receiver or stay with what you have?
Hue Jackson: Well, I think as we look at our football team, we have some very young talented players, and injuries are, like you said, is something that you will never know how it happens. I think we have some players that I am very excited about. Obviously, they need to do it at a high level consistently, and they can, and they will. I have said that all year, with that group - the sky is the limit. What we have got to do is make sure we create that environment again and get that out of them because I think it is there. But, I know us, we are going to do everything we can to strengthen our football team in any area we can because we want to be great.
Q: Mr. Davis, you talked about Nnamdi. Do you see Nnamdi back on this team next season even further into the future?
Mr. Davis: Well, we will see. Before the season started last year, all the talk was that Nnamdi wanted to be traded, wanted to go to New York. I think you all remember it, some of you wrote it. I called him, because I could have made a move. And I asked him do you want to go or do you not want to go. Make up your mind because I have got to make up my mind. We very much had time restraints. He said no I want to stay. I do not want to go. Then just the other day you get another signal. I try not to get tied up in that. If we get to the point where we know what the rules are on the Collective Bargaining Agreement we know what is being done and we take a look at The Raiders and see what we want to do and see what he wants to do. We will work on it. He is a great player and does a good job in the community. So, you always like to have it. But, can that $17 million bring you in two or three quality players to help you win?
Q: Hue, what are you looking for in a defense?
Hue Jackson: This is what I am looking for: when the other team comes to the stadium they are worried about us hitting them when they get off the bus. I will be very honest with you. We are going to be very aggressive on defense. That is who we are. That is the Raider way. That is what Mike Waufle likes. I know that is what Kevin Ross likes. We are going to make sure that we go out on defense and we get teams stopped. That is who we are. We are physical, we are tough, we are aggressive and we want to go out there every week and have an opportunity on defense to win the football game if we have to. And, that is what we are going to be on defense.
Q: Hue, you obviously went to University of Pacific and got your coaching start there. Take me back to that time frame when you were there and how it influenced your offensive philosophy?
Hue Jackson: Well, back at University of Pacific I was recruited by Ed Donatell who is now over in San Francisco as the secondary coach. I went there and played there for two seasons. And, the head coach at the time was Bob Cope. Has since deceased. I essentially got my start there at UOP. Then Walt Harris came in as head coach with none other than John Gruden. And, the person that really shaped me in football is John Gruden. We were officemates. We were both young coaches. We were both young aspiring coaches. We shared an office together. And, John Gruden I would never forget it, would put me on the board at night time for three months straight and we would talk football. That is where my start happened. And, obviously I have had opportunity to work with some great coaches in this profession as I worked my way up the ranks. The Marty Schottenheimers, the Marvin Lewises...just to name a few guys I have had the chance to work for...John Harbaugh over in Baltimore. That is kind of where it started for me at University of Pacific. Every walk I have had whether it has been great or whether it has not been as good has been very good for this opportunity. It has really prepared me to have an opportunity to lead an organization, to lead a group of men as we go out every Sunday to go try to win football games.
Q: Are you aware of what challenges you have ahead of you and the high standards the Raiders and Mr. Davis have?
Hue Jackson: Oh there is no question, my reality is winning and losing. That is the nature of my business and I welcome that. I think you know when you get into this profession that is what it is all about. I am here to be great. And, I know we have talked about the coaches before me and I have great respect for them. But, they are not Hue Jackson, and I came here for one reason: to come back and help restore the great tradition of The Oakland Raiders and that is why I am sitting here today. And I have one goal and that is to get that done.
Q: Coach and Mr. Davis, watching your team this last year, it was obvious that there were a lot more explosive possibilities on offense, you doubled your points total, can you talk about your offensive philosophy? It seems like the play calling is a little more daring. Mr. Davis can you talk about how that intrigued you and played into bringing Hue because certainly you were scoring a lot more points is most of the games?
Hue Jackson: Again, we have some very, very talented players here. And, obviously we are known as a team that can run. We have the capability to put the ball in people's hands, be it Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford, I mean even Chaz Schilens, we have an opportunity to put the ball in those guys' hands and they are very explosive athletes. If you can create space for a player and they are very confident and comfortable he has a chance to make a play. And, my goal is to take our players and always give them a opportunity to give them success. We build a system around our players. And obviously, we have a great interest in pushing the ball down the field. We want to throw the ball down the field because we truly believe that we have those kind of athletes that can make those plays. So, that is always going to be a staple of who we are. We are always, every chance we get, if we can try to score every play we are going to try and score every play. We know that it does not happen that way. But, we have those kinds of players and we truly believe that if we can continue to create this kind of environment, and just continue to get better week in and week out, and work to get better that this bully we are trying to build, we are going to build it.
Q: Mr. Davis can you just follow up on that, because it intrigues me watching the way the Raiders were able to score so many points this year as opposed to years past? That was kind of an attractive thing certainly from your standpoint I would think that you liked about Hue was the play calling.
Mr. Davis: Well, no he said it best. You have got to score, I told you that. When I see the Raiders getting into the end zone and using Marcel Reece for example for a [long] touchdown pass, using these guys the way they should be used. Someone gave me credit for not giving up on [McFadden]. Anybody who has watched him practice would see that the guy has greatness in him but has got to stay well. That is the problem with McFadden. If he stays well we have greatness there. Bush is a little different type. He brings that toughness to it. I do not want to challenge certain teams in this league, but, by the 3rd and 4th quarter they do not want to tackle Bush in the secondary. They just do not want to. He is 250 pounds. Power, speed, and so that is a plus for us. And, we have Jacoby Ford, gives us something now. All these teams defer when they win the toss. What I mean by defer, they say they will kick off to you and they will take the ball in the second half. They do not want to defer. They do not want to put the ball into the air to Jacoby Ford. And so it is a weapon we have got to use it and we have got to do it better. We got three [kickoff returns for touchdowns], but we did not find out about Jacoby. And, that was something that bothered me. We knew about him, but we did not use him for a long time. Until he became a factor, he had to prove it to us. Not us, get him to prove to the teams that we were playing that he can do it. You cannot discount speed, you have got to have it.
Q: This is for both you Hue and Mr. Davis. Hue you said you talk a lot and enjoy being able to talk to who you call Coach Davis, what it is that you most learn from him from those talks. And, Mr. Davis what have you learned about him as a leader?
Hue Jackson: The most I have learned from Coach Davis is the greatness of The Raiders. And, what it takes to really be a Raider. This is truly about winning and that is what we are built on. Our whole foundation is winning and excellence and all that we do. Whether it is our coaches, whether it is our players, on the field and off the field. We are going to try and do it the right way. When you can have talks with your boss and he is talking about not just about peripherals of all the other stuff is going on, but also the actual X's and O's. I can go in and have a legitimate 'we are going to run the off tackle power play and we are block down and kick off,' and draw up a front and we can discuss it. I mean honestly that is unheard of. This is the first place I have been dealing with the owner I can do that. There is nobody else that I had to draw anything on a board for. To me that is special. Coach Davis that is why I call him Coach, because he can still talk football with me. Whether it is the run game, pass game, special teams, it does not matter, he is my resource, and whenever I needed something answered I know I can always call him and get the answer if I do not have it.
Q: Mr. Davis, is there something that you saw this year in terms of Hue's leadership, not just X's and O's, but his ability to have a bigger picture and be a head coach and not just an offensive coordinator?
Mr. Davis: Well, I thought that he had excellent ability when I interviewed him last year, and that is when I hired him to be the offensive coordinator. We watched what happened and what happened is in the proof. The guy can get into the end zone. He has got to do it. He has got to get the players to get in there. He has got to win. These things are not easy for a coach. He went to the University of Pacific. I got a kick out of that when I think of a guy who won two Super Bowls in the country and went to University of Pacific, Tom Flores. I do not think it happens the way you do. I say to you that he showed it, it manifested, he can bring me continuity, he can bring the Raiders continuity, he can bring the Raider Nation continuity. He has got some things going for him that we are excited about.
Q: This question is for Hue and Mr. Davis, you have called yourself in the past as an 'in your face' kind of guy, and you have gotten out there, mixed it up and talked trash with the defense. Mr. Davis, what is your impression of that in training camp and in practice? And, what has done that with your relationship Hue with the defense?
Hue Jackson: Well, I guess, I try to do is I try to get to know our football team. I was the offensive coordinator of this team. But, I am sure if you talked to a lot of our defensive players, I had just as good as a relationship with a lot of them as some of our offensive players. I wanted to know our team. The key to any leadership is you got to know the players. And, you have got to know what makes them go. And, for whatever reason, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to lead people. I truly believe in that. I think I am here to lead these men and give them the opportunity to be great and I am excited about that.
Q: And, Mr. Davis what did you think of his technique? I know Nnamdi said it really motivated him during practice when he would chime in.
Mr. Davis: Gruden was like that, they were feisty, take on the defense, make them better, make them compete, but they are different definitely Hue Jackson and John Gruden. But, on that particular thing they are very similar.
Q: I had the opportunity to speak with some of your former players at UOP and they spoke very highly of you saying that you are a player's type of coach, what is that you do differently that causes or builds a relationship with players and now that you're a head coach do you expect that to change?
Hue Jackson: I think what it is about my personality is like I kind of said earlier is that I like to know the player but I challenge them to be brilliant and I want to push these guys to be as good as they can be because that is really what this is truly all about. I don't see that changing. My goal is to get this team competing week in and week out, practice in and practice out; every opportunity we walk out on that field to be great and that is what I am looking forward to doing.
Q: Can you expand on what you see in yourself as being in the locker room with the players and then out on the field? You also mention about past coaches that molded you, but is their style that compares to your style of coaching?
Hue Jackson: I try not to imitate anybody because I want to be myself. I think the number one thing that I am is thorough and honest and that I am very loyal to our players and that I am going to do anything I can to create an environment for them so they can be the best that they can be. I care about them because it is important to me, not just what they do when they walk in the building, but also what they do when they walk outside the building. That they represent the Raiders the correct way, that there is a family here but that family that is here on Sunday is prepared to fight to win and that is all that I am interested in.
Q: Hue, I know the CBA is unknown or on the horizon but can you give me two or three critical things that you have to do right now, or lets say now by the end of the month from an urgency standpoint?
Hue Jackson: I think the number one thing we have to do is hire a staff. Get our staff in place so that we can be in contact with our players. I think those kind of things will work kind of hand-in-hand together getting this staff together and making sure that we are in contact with our players and knowing what are players are doing, and being very aware of what they need to do at this particular point in time in the off season. Obviously, getting our schedule together, getting ready to, like you said for whatever the CBA is going to do, but mini-camps, OTAs, how all that is going to play out for our football team. Obviously, the most important thing is the draft. You know preparing for the draft but in order to do that we have to have that staff in place. We have to make sure we know about our players, their health and exactly where they are and then just prepare for our scheduling, our offseason programs and the things we can do to get better.
Q: While thinking about goals for next season, have you thought about the penalties with this team, how to really get players focused on what not to do?
Hue Jackson: No question, I think about it every day. It is obviously an area that we have to address. It is something that we are going to emphasize to get better at. I mean obviously that is a high number of penalties that we had, some were controlled and we all know that some we can't control. What we want to do is make sure that we don't hurt ourselves as a football team and I think that is the most important thing. Obviously, that starts with emphasizing, starts with our coaching staff and showing our players and having an understanding what it takes to win on the weekly basis and obviously we can't have negative plays.
Q: What changes need to be made to improve next season so you can accomplish what you said to lead this team to a Super Bowl?
Hue Jackson: The number one thing we have to do on offense is play more consistently in the scoring zone. I know we're all excited about the points scored but there were too many times we were in the scoring zone especially earlier in the year that we didn't capitalize. We have to do a better job, I truly believe, of putting that ball in the end zone when we are down there and be more efficient in that area of the field. We have to eliminate penalties on both sides of the ball and on defense we have to get after the quarterback. We have the best defensive line coach in football in my opinion in Mike Waufle and he has done an excellent job this past year. I expect our defensive line to play better than they played last year. I expect our linebackers to play better; I expect our secondary to play better. I expect our defense to be better this year because we are going to be a team that is in another year of somewhat the same system and playing about it.
Q: Have you already reached out to any of the players?
Hue Jackson: This group of men on the Raider team is excited about the upcoming season. I think our players are excited about what the future is here and we were 6-0 in the AFC West and we know we need to play better outside the AFC West and we're going to build a bully here. This is the Raiders, we know exactly where we're heading and what we want to do and I think our players today are very, very excited about where we're going.