Hue Jackson: “It was just so exciting for the city of Oakland, the organization, Raider Nation, to win the game.”
by Michael Bean
So far so good for the Hue Jackson era in Oakland. The Raiders are 1-0 to begin the 2011 NFL season after holding off the Denver Broncos, 23-20, in the Mile High City Monday night. Jackson, of course, is in his first year as the head coach of the Raiders. A long time employee of Al Davis, Jackson has recently commented on how he enjoys working for Davis and how many of the widely held beliefs about his boss are untrue. Being a company man? Probably. But maybe just maybe Jackson is the right guy for the job, the man who can get the talented but inconsistent Raiders back to the playoffs and competing regularly.
A lot will ride on the play of quarterback Jason Campbell. He wasn’t spectacular in the 23-20 victory, but he didn’t have to be thanks to an effective rushing attack and a defensive effort that made just enough plays to keep the Broncos from finding their rhythm offensively. Campbell threw for just 105 yards and 1 TD on 13-of-22 passes, but he managed the game just fine and most importantly avoided any costly turnovers. He’ll have to be better if the Raiders hope to accomplish much in 2011, but provided he continues to protect the football, Oakland should have enough in other departments to hang tough most weeks.
Jackson is on cloud nine after the win, but he and the Raiders don’t have too long to feel good about themselves. After playing on Monday night, Oakland has a short week of preparation before heading all the way across country to take on the Buffalo Bills at what will be 10 am their body time. Tall order, even if it is against a Bills team that doesn’t really scare anybody on paper. If Jackson can get his team ready to play under these circumstances after a huge emotional win over the rival Broncos, than it might be time to start considering Oakland as a team that could be one of the more interesting darkhorses in the AFC.
Jackson joined KHTK in Sacramento to talk about when the Raiders arrived home after their Monday night win over Denver, his overall thoughts about how Oakland played in the Week 1 win, the outstanding play of the defense, particularly in the trenches up front, his bold decision to throw the ball on a third down late in the fourth quarter rather than going conservative and giving the ball back to Denver, how a decision like that can infuse life and confidence into a team, the two weapons he has in the kicking game in Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski, the importance of cutting down on penalties (Oakland was flagged 15 times for 131 yards), how he’ll approach having a short week to prepare for an east coast trip week to play the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, the Raiders’ ability to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and the visible intensity and passion that coaches and players were exuding on Monday night.
When did the Raiders arrive home after their win in Denver?
“We got in about 4:30 am.”
On his overall thoughts about the Week 1 win against the rival Broncos:
“It was just so exciting for the city of Oakland, the organization, Raider Nation, to win the game. Monday Night Football, what a great venue there in Denver, one of the teams in our division to start our season the right way.”
On how well the defense played:
“I thought our front guys really set the tempo for the game: Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Matt Shaughnessy, Lamarr Houston, and then obviously Trevor Scott coming off the bench, and even Jarvis Moss. Those guys, they went out there and dominated. I mean, they really got after it and set a tempo that we could all follow as we went through the game.”
On his bold decision to try to close out the game with a pass on third down late in the game rather than conservatively running the ball:
“Well, no question, you just said it best — I want to give our team the best chance to win, and I didn’t want to put our defense back out there, not that I didn’t think our defense couldn’t finish the game for us. I just felt there was no need for them to be back out there, and obviously I’d seen a couple things that Denver was doing, and I had a play or two that I kind of had stashed in my back pocket that would work. And I was able to call it at the right time. When it works it’s really good, when it doesn’t work, it’s really bad. But we were fortunate to be on the good side of it. And obviously we’re sitting here today 1-0.”
How a decision like that can infuse life and confidence into a team:
“Well it’s one of our slogans here. We truly feel like we need to finish games. That was something we talked about heading into this season that we needed to do better, and I think that’s so important. And finishing the game sometimes is even right before halftime, to end the first half in a two-minute mode getting 34 yards in 24 seconds to set up that field goal. And then to end the game in a four-minute mode, and eight-play drive with three first downs in the last three minutes and 43 seconds, I mean, that’s what we’re about — we’re about trying to put the nail in the coffin and get the game over with, and our guys were able to do that last night.”
On having two huge weapons in the kicking game in Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski:
“Hey what a comfort that is. Any place, any time — we have a kicker who can kick it through the uprrights, and we have a punter who can really shoot ‘em down there real deep and pin the offenses back there. That is a tremendous luxury. I don’t know that too many teams have two; some teams have one, but we definitely have two very, very good players at those positions.”
On the high number of penalties called on the Raiders:
“Yeah absolutely, just way too many. After I congratulated them on the victory, because obviously the victory is the most important thing, but we have work to do. I keep talking about this penalty issue that we have, and I have to get it solved. I thought there was some improvement in our team, we did finish the game and win the game on the road Monday Night. We broke that eight-year streak, 11 consecutive wins by the Broncos, we were able to do that. The next thing that we’ve got to get tackled is this penalty issue that’s been plaguing us. The concentration penalties are the ones that kind of really irritate me, because those are things that they can control. I know sometimes things can get a little bit heated out there, and I don’t want the personal fouls, and we’ll work through those as well. I do know some of those things do occur in the heat of the battle, but we’ve got to do everything we can to get this under control because it’s going to catch up to us at some point in time.”
On having such a short week to prepare for a trip to the east coast to play the Buffalo Bills:
“Well what you try to do obviously is the health of your team and try to get them as much as you can, but also preparing them and practicing them getting them ready for a big game in Buffalo. Obviously with the new rules, you can’t wear pads both days anyway, so that’s a plus. We’ll definitely take them out of pads one day, and maybe one day put them in pads, but try to get this team as rested up and fresh as we can so we can take that trip back east and go play the game.”
On the Raiders’ ability to close out the game with the running game and what he thought about the play of his offensive line:
“Well I thought they were outstanding. Obviously there were a few plays that these young men would tell you that they’d like to have back, because we left some yards on the field. But I think for the the most part on both sides of the ball offensively and defensively on the lines, we set a tempo last night. We wanted to establish an attitude of how we wanted to play. I mean, on defense they had 13 rushing attempts for 38 yards, a 2.9 yards per attempt. And we carried it 39 times for 190 and a 4.9 average. To me that says a lot. What we did in training camp is really starting to pay off, and I think on both sides of the lines we have some very talented players.”
On how intense and passionate the Raiders players and coaches seemed to be on the sidelines throughout the game:
“Well they like to play; this team truly likes to play. And we’re just trying to be as consistent as we can in this thing called winning. It’s something we talk about all the time, and I think in order to play this game at a high level, you’ve got to play with a fire that burns inside. And we talk about it, and preseason wasn’t when it was out there, but these games are for real. I think everybody understands that; we can’t let one slip away because we’re not ready to play. And that’s the goal — consistently week in and week out we need to go out there with a purpose, and that purpose is to win.”