Raiders elevate Jackson to head coach

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Raiders elevate Jackson to head coach

Jan. 17, 2011
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

Never oneto miss the opportunity to make a statement or take advantage ofsymbolism, Al Davis chose Martin Luther King Jr. Day to announce HueJackson as the second African-American head coach in franchise history.Art Shell had two tours of duty with the Raiders, from 1989 through 1994 and again in 2006.Davis, though, was careful not to mention race in pronouncing Jacksonas the Raiders ninth coach since they returned to Oakland from LosAngeles in 1995. Davis verbiage, though, was indeed flowery in astatement released by the team.RELATED: Raiders' statement on Hue Jackson
The fire in Hue will set a flame that will burn for a long time in thehearts and minds of the Raider football team and the Raider Nation,Davis said.Jackson, 45, had been the leading and logical candidate to replace TomCable ever since the Raiders announced on Jan. 4 they would not pick upCables two-year, 5-million option.In fact, Jackson was seen in many corners as the HCIW (Head Coach InWaiting) from the moment he was hired by Davis to be the play-callerand offensive coordinator last January.Jackson, who could not be reached for comment and will be officiallypresented Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Alameda, acknowledged on Dec. 16 hewanted to one day be a head coach.Let me say this: I have the best job in football right here, coachingwith the Oakland Raiders as their offensive coordinator, Jackson saidat the time. I like what I do.I like our players. I like the people that Im around every day. Ivegotten to know some of you (in the media) and Ive enjoyed my timehere. I would be wrong to say that everybody whos in my positiondoesnt want to go have that opportunity some day to be the best thatthey can be. Thats what I want to do. Thats what we all want to do.In his first season as the Raiders O.C., he improved the offense fromNo. 31 overall in 2009 to No. 10 overall this past season and boastedthe No. 2 rushing attack in the NFL. The Raiders also more than doubledtheir scoring output and, thanks in part to a breakout season byrunning back Darren McFadden, first-year quarterback Jason Campbellgetting comfortable in his skin, and rookie receiver Jacoby Ford arevelation, their 410 points scored were the sixth most in the league.It was the sixth-highest scoring output in franchise history.Guys have said all season how much improved we are on offense, tightend Zach Miller said the week before the season finale. We were prettybad last year on offense. To have a turnaround like that is a greatcredit to our players and coach Jackson.McFadden agreed, somewhat.We got a lot better, McFadden said, but at the same time, we left alot of plays out there. Some games we were saying we should have had 20more points out there. Its something you have to deal with infootball. We got a lot better out there.Still, while 8-8 was the Raiders best record since 2002 and ended astreak of seven straight seasons with at least 11 defeats, Oaklandmissed the postseason, despite going 6-0 in the AFC West.We expect to be challenging for the playoffs, challenging for ourdivision year in and year out and were not getting that done, so, tome, thats a disappointment, Jackson said on Dec. 30. Theres eitherfirst place or theres last place and theres no in between.This will be Jacksons first head job on any level and no financialterms or length of contract for him have been disclosed. As such, thereare questions as to if he will continue his role as the play-caller.Longtime NFL coach Al Saunders, who has long been a favorite of Davisand was Baltimores senior offensive assistant this past season, isbeing rumored as an offensive coordinator candidate.Plus, with John Marshall reportedly on his way out, Jackson would needa new defensive coordinator. Rob Ryan, rumored for the job, is on hisway to Dallas, though, according to numerous reports.Defensive line coach Mike Waufle is still under contract, though his interest level is not known.Jackson has coached in Washington, Cincinnati and Atlanta and came tothe Raiders from Baltimore, where he was the Ravens quarterbackscoach. His relationship with Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, who ispurportedly soured on Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis, is sure to gettongues wagging.At 13 days, the time between Cables dismissal and Jacksons hiring isthe shortest amount of time Davis has taken to hire a successor. Ittook Davis 18 days to hire Lane Kiffin after Shell was shown the doorfour years ago.And that was definitely not on MLK Day.

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

Raiders' first-round pick Conley opens up on emotions after off-field issues

ALAMEDA – Gareon Conley’s name has been sullied, at least temporarily. He feared it would be long enough to send him free falling down the NFL Draft.

The Ohio State cornerback and top-15 prospect was accused of rape stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland, an allegation he called “completely false.”

The Raiders clearly believe him. That’s why they drafted him No. 24 overall on Thursday evening, and expect him to be a long-term solution in their secondary.

Conley wasn’t sure how far he’d fall after being beaten down by one rough week, when the allegation went public. Reggie McKenzie’s first-round selection and subsequent call was more emotional than expected.

“It made it 10 times more special,” Conley said Thursday night in a conference call. “Just having that doubt in my mind, just not knowing (how far I would fall). Just having faith and having doubt, I didn’t know what was going to happen. When it came, it shocked me. It felt unreal, honestly. It still feels unreal.”

Being a top pick was expected after an excellent career at Ohio State. The rape accusation threatened to destroy his draft-day dreams. Conley has not been arrested or charged in relation to the incident, though an investigation is ongoing.

Conley said he volunteered to take a polygraph test that was shared with NFL teams, and reportedly passed the one he took. He said in a statement there are witnesses and video evidence proving he didn’t do anything illegal.

Conley spent the last few days trying to proclaim his innocence. 

He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police on Monday to discuss the April 9 incident -- he'll also submit a DNA sample, according to ESPN -- where group sex was suggested and a woman claimed she was sexually assaulted.

Conley believes his name will be cleared in time.

“I’m very confident it will be resolved," Conley said. "I took a test today that helps. Then when I made my statement and all the evidence that I have, I feel confident it’ll be resolved.”

Conley admits he shouldn’t have put himself in a compromising position, which occurred at a Cleveland hotel earlier this month.

“I could’ve made way better judgment,” Conley said. “I mean, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I definitely could’ve made a better decision.”

Conley hopes to move beyond it quickly and start focusing on football. He is scheduled to fly west for a press conference on Friday.

Conley is thankful to the Raiders for believing in him despite his recent troubles.

“It’s off the charts, honestly,” Conley said. “Just to know that they have faith in me, not even just as a football player but as a person like that, it speaks highly of them, and I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to be a part of the Raider organization.”

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

McKenzie: Raiders did their 'due diligence' before drafting Gareon Conley

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders used the No. 24 overall pick on Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley. This wasn’t a second-round flier or a late-round gamble.

That’s a first-round pick. Rolling the dice this early is ill advised. The Raiders don't believe they did with a selection accompanied by a $5.78 million signing bonus, $10.5 million in total money and a valuable fifth-year option to keep a player in town.

They wouldn’t risk such an asset on someone in serious legal trouble. The Raiders did significant research on Conley, who was accused of rape earlier this week, before making a selection. Results gave the Raiders confidence in their choice. 

Conley has not been arrested or charged over an allegation that stems from an April 9 interaction in a Cleveland hotel.

Conley said the accusations are “completely false,” in a statement released by his agent. He claims to have witnesses and video evidence that he didn’t do anything illegal during an exchange where group sex was suggested. He is scheduled to meet with Cleveland police about the allegation and an investigation into it on Monday.

Conley said he took and passed polygraph test prior to the draft, hoping to avoid a free fall into the draft’s later rounds.

The Raiders clearly believe him. They wouldn’t have used such a high pick on the Ohio State cornerback otherwise. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team thoroughly investigated the matter, and felt comfortable using a high pick on someone who sat alone atop their draft board at No. 24 overall.

“We did our due diligence throughout this whole process,” McKenzie said Thursday night, after making the Conley pick. “We trust our research, reports, everything that we have on Mr. Conley. We feel really good about picking Gareon Conley and having him join the Raiders team and having him be a great teammate for our players.”

McKenzie didn’t detail the Raiders research efforts, but didn’t seem concerned about this off-field issue.

“I don’t want to get into all the details,” McKenzie said, “but the bottom line is that we’ve done miles and miles of research to make sure we were totally comfortable with our decision, which we were.”

McKenzie said he spoke with owner Mark Davis about Conley, as he does most first-round options.

The Raiders were impressed by Conley’s workouts and his game tape. The rape accusation obviously gave the NFL pause regarding his draft status, and he slipped somewhat in the first round.

The Raiders are confident following an internal investigation that his legal troubles will pass without incident.

“The research was done,” McKenzie said. "It wasn’t just a gut (feeling). It was based on research, and we’re very confident in all the information that we got.”