Hue Jackson era officially begins in Oakland


Hue Jackson era officially begins in Oakland

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.

RATTO: Davis goes after ex-coach Cable

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.

REWIND: 2010 NFL standings

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.

GUTIERREZ: Deciphering Al Davis' State of the Raiders

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.

Bortles, Carr still carry quarterback bond since NFL Draft

Bortles, Carr still carry quarterback bond since NFL Draft

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Derek Carr found a friend in Blake Bortles during the taxing, often invasive pre-NFL draft process. The pair were considered among 2014’s top college quarterbacks, with stats, size, smarts and arm strength to warrant a top selection.

The pair ended up visiting several of the same quarterback-needy teams leading up to the draft and national events like the NFL scouting combine.

They actually crossed paths in Jacksonville as both players were in to visit a Jaguars team in desperate need of a quarterback.

“We were in Jacksonville together, and then we were somewhere else together, I believe,” Bortles said. “I remember Jacksonville vividly because we went and got dinner together the night before.”

They exchanged numbers and texted each other during that spring. It started a friendship that continued on.

“We talk every now and then – I still have his number, still text him here and there,” Bortles said. “We’ll talk in the offseason and throughout the year, but he’s an unbelievable guy. He’s a guy that I definitely check and see how he’s doing throughout the year after every game and rooting for, and look forward to seeing him Sunday.”

Their paths cross again Sunday in Jacksonville, when the Raiders and Jaguars meet in a Week 7 clash important to both clubs. The 4-2 Raiders hope to surge ahead and erase a terrible home loss to Kansas City. The Jaguars want to expand on a two-game win streak.

These upstart clubs are dependent on big offense and steady play from quarterbacks selected two-plus years ago.

Jacksonville picked third, and had first crack at a 2014 quarterback class headlined by Teddy Bridgewater, Carr, Bortles and Johnny Manziel.

They took Bortles, with all his size, arm strength and Ben Roethlisberger comparisons. Cleveland made a colossal mistake and took Manziel, who flamed out after two hard-partying seasons with the Browns. Minnesota traded back into the first round and nabbed Bridgewater, a competent signal caller who suffered a major knee injury that stole his 2016 season at least.

The Raiders were patient, held on to their pick and still got their guy. They selected Carr No. 36 overall, paired him with No. 5 pick Khalil Mack and put the franchise on the right track.

Through two-plus seasons, Carr’s been the best of the bunch, and Bortles is solidly in second place. Carr’s been more productive, earned more wins and taken better care of the football. Both guys can be gunslingers, but Carr is a bit more measured.

Bortles exemplifies the term. He’s willing to take risks for great reward, a style the Raiders defense wants to exploit in this crucial meeting.

Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson knows Carr and Bortles extremely well. He was the Raiders offensive coordinator during Carr’s rookie year, and the quarterback credits Olson for getting his NFL career off on the right foot.

He has worked with Bortles over the last two years and has played a major part in his development.

Olson sees similarities between these two passing talents and their development from rookie starters into their third professional seasons.

“Both guys are great competitors,” Olson told reporters in Jacksonville. “They are individuals who were thrown into the league and had to play early as rookies. Both guys have gone through changes in coordinators, but they are tremendous competitors and the both prepare extremely well. They’re both intelligent guys.”

Raiders prepped for two-game road trip, extended stay in Sunshine State

Raiders prepped for two-game road trip, extended stay in Sunshine State

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Charter buses and cargo trucks lined the back parking lot at the Raiders facility on Friday, ready to load up for a long time gone.

They were prepped to transport players, personnel and a week’s worth of supplies to an airplane set to cross the country.

The Raiders weren’t headed for a quick trip to play Jacksonville on Sunday. They’re staying in central Florida between Sunday’s game against the host Jaguars and a game at Tampa Bay to avoid travelling coast to coast in consecutive weeks.

They’ll be tucked away at a swanky Sarasota, Fla., resort devising a way to beat the Buccaneers, while practicing 20 miles north at the IMG Academy in Bradenton.

Head coach Jack Del Rio doesn’t want his team thinking about the 10-day trip as a whole quite yet. He wants it compartmentalized, with complete focus on beating the Jaguars above all else.

“The biggest thing for us is to kind of take it as it comes,” Del Rio said. “And, the first order of business is traveling well Friday, for our game Sunday. And then, what changes then is that rather than flying back, then we transition into instead of going back and forth, what we’re going to do down there.

“Right now, the focus is really just on Jacksonville, the talent they have, the things they like. We’re really dialing in our preparation that way. Then, once we get to Sunday and the game’s over, then we’ll transition into the following week.”

The Raiders players and football personnel – some business officials will head back home -- will take a short flight from Jacksonville to Sarasota on Sunday night to start the next game’s prep.

It keeps the Raiders on the road but takes away most of the travel, streamlining a process the Raiders have down pat. They’ve been excellent on the road this season, with three wins in as many trips.

The Raiders have done well in hostile environments because everything they do, from eating to sleeping to actual prep on the road is done with victory in mind. Players come in confident and typically leave with a win. They have a 7-4 road record under Del Rio, a mark they’d like to improve during this Florida two-step.

“We’ve been able to travel well and play well and we look forward to the next opportunity,” Del Rio said. “Regardless of where we’re playing, we expect to play well.”

Being away so long may have its advantages, creating an in-season summit for players and coaches. Proceedings will have a training camp feel, with guys together most of the week focused on football. That could provide growth in all aspects, especially with a defense that has not played well together.

“I think it’s going to be a really good thing,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “Just to be out somewhere different with everybody. Obviously, some peoples’ families will be there and those kind of things which is a must. You have to have your family. My family will be there, we’ll be together. But when you get those times at the hotel to be around each other to eat every meal together, do those things, I think it’s nothing but good things. Whenever you can spend as much time around each other as possible, I think it’s really good.”

Some families will make the trip. The Raiders also have several players from the Florida and neighboring with friends and family coming in for these important games. During the week, however, the focus will be on football. 

Playing consecutive games against teams from the Sunshine State is no fluke. The Raiders requested this sequence in order to alleviate some travel burden on a West Coast team forced to play at least two time zones away seven times this season.

It’s a relatively trendy concept a few teams have used over the years. The Baltimore Ravens stayed in the Bay Area last year and practiced at San Jose State between games against Denver and the Raiders. The Atlanta Falcons did so this season, staying out west between games against Denver and Seattle.

The Raiders could’ve done so twice – consecutive games at Tennessee and Baltimore provided another option – but didn’t want to put strain on young families.

They’ll try and keep things close to a typical game week, so the players feel comfortable in new elements. The football operations staff, lead by coordinator Tom Jones, is bringing the technology required for meetings and film study. The equipment staff, led by manager Bob Romanski, in particular must load up for a long haul and get ready for two games and four other days of practice.

It’s no easy task taking this show on the road, but the Raiders believe it’ll help in the middle of an arduous season and travel slate.

"There’s a lot of work behind the scenes,” Del Rio said. “…For us as players and coaches, it’s going to be very seamless. Basically football preparation as we know it, just doing it in a different environment.”