Jan. 18, 2011RAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul Gutierrez
ALAMEDA What had been expected since he arrived here a year ago became an official reality Tuesday afternoon.
In a wide-ranging media conference that lasted two hours and 15 minutes, Hue Jackson was formally introduced by Raiders owner Al Davis as the 17th head coach in franchise history, the ninth since the team returned to Oakland from its 13-year sojourn to Los Angeles in 1995.
Jackson, 45, becomes a head coach for the first time in his career at any level in replacing Tom Cable, whose two-year, 5-million option was not picked up by the Raiders two weeks ago to the day. And while Jacksons contract terms were not disclosed, Davis generally gives his coaches two guaranteed years with a follow-up two-year option.
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Davis said there were three other candidates -- one of which was purportedly former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan -- but would not divulge their names.
Jackson said he would remain the primary play-caller on offense, though reports have surfaced that Baltimore senior offensive assistant Al Saunders was in line to jump to Oakland. Jackson did not dispute having interest in Saunders.
As expected, Davis pointed to Jacksons improvement of the offense as the main reason for his promotion. In one season as offensive coordinator, the Raiders offense jumped from No. 31 overall to No. 10 and boasted the No. 2 rushing attack in the NFL. Plus, the Raiders more than doubled their scoring output, and with 410 points, they were the sixth-highest scoring team in the league.
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In going 8-8, the Raiders ended a streak of seven seasons with at least 11 defeats.
And though he has only been in Oakland for one year, Jackson represents a certain continuity sorely missing in these parts.
Theres no question its an advantage that Im here, but I dont really feel that I have to overcome anything, Jackson said. Ive been here with our players. Our players have been very supportive. Today alone I got 20 text messages from our players, who are very excited about me being here, being the head coach, and they cant wait to get back here.
Because .. were going to create an environment here for our players to be as good as they can be, on offense, defense and special teams.
The Raiders have 31 player contracts expiring, meaning, depending upon a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they could have as many as 31 free agents to contemplate. But under the rules of the current CBA, only 14 players would be unrestricted free agents.
This group of men on the Raider team is excited about the upcoming season, Jackson said. I havent felt like I needed to re-recruit anybody. I havent felt like I needed to call anybody other than I normally do. I call guys to see how theyre doing and see how this offseason is doing so far.
I think our players are excited about what the future is here. Again, we were 6-0 in the AFC West. We know we need to play better outside the (division). Were going to build a bully here. This is the Raiders. We know exactly where were headed and what we want to do. I think our players today are very excited about where they are going.
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Sam Williams, a linebacker and special teams ace, spoke glowingly of Jacksons elevation to the top gig.
Man, since Cable is no longer the coach, Hue is definitely a great guy to take over, Williams said in a telephone interview. He brought a spark with his energy and his enthusiasm. He makes it a lot of fun to be out there.
He reminds me of a Rex Ryan -- you want to go out there and play for him. He brings the energy and you have to bring it, too.
Williams said Jackson being the coach might sway him towards re-signing with Oakland whenif the new CBA is approved.
Definitely, Williams said. Hes a guy that you want to play for. I wouldnt be surprised if a lot of free agents wanted to come here to play for him.
He would be out there challenging everybody, not just the offense. Thats the kind of coordinator he is.
And now a head coach.
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Davis harkened a familiar name to the Raiders' fan base when asked of Jacksons attributes.
He was like, whats his name? (Jon) Gruden, Davis said. Gruden was like that -- feisty. He could lead the defense. But they are different, definitely, Hue Jackson and Jon Gruden. But on that particular thing, there are very similar. So he must have learned that sitting up there every day, hours at night on the blackboard.
As far as a staff goes, Jackson, with some input from Davis, of course, has many holes to plug.
John Marshall is no longer the defensive coordinator after two seasons and two names mentioned as possible replacements -- Ryan and Baltimore Ravens secondary coach Chuck Pagano -- have both found new jobs.
Defensive line coach Mike Waufle is still under contract, as is defensive backs coach Kevin Ross, and Waufle might be a candidate.
We are all ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work, Jackson said. So, Im glad, to be here, glad to be the head coach of this football team.
I plan on being here a long time.