New offensive coordinator makes big impact on Raiders
NAPA – There’s no missing new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and his loud voice at Oakland Raiders practice.
Whether it’s scolding his offense, trash-talking the defense or offering instructions, Jackson provides the soundtrack to the daily grind of training camp practices.
“Everybody talks about my style. I’m kind of an in-your face guy,” Jackson said Thursday. “I coach with a lot of energy. The most important thing is I’m looking for a result.”
Whether that intensity and enthusiasm will lead to positive results on the field is one of the biggest questions for the Raiders this season.
Jackson spoke to the media on Thursday for the first time since being hired in January. He said he is looking to run a balanced offense with Oakland’s “prime-time” players, he wants to create a “bully” of an offense, and that he plans to turn the Raiders back into the winning franchise they are supposed to be.
The move to hire Jackson and give him the play-calling duties that head coach Tom Cable had last year was one of many this offseason aimed at turning around a struggling unit. Perhaps the only one more important was the trade for Jason Campbell to take over as starting quarterback from former No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell.
“He’s brought so much to this team, especially offensively,” Campbell said. “His mindset. His attitude. He pushes everybody each and every play. There’s not a day off, there’s not a play off. In order to be a champion in life, you’ve got to work like one. That’s what he preaches every day, to work like a champion.”
Jackson pushed the defense as well as the offense, as his trash-talking serves as motivation for the defenders who take great pleasure in stopping Jackson’s group during practice.
After intercepting one pass early in training camp, Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha handed the ball back to Jackson while running it back.
“His impact has been great,” Asomugha said. “It’s been great thus far. The offense has really taken a liking to him as a leader. What he’s done with Jason and the offense has been great because what he does is he plays to the player’s strengths. It’s not just let’s throw anything out there and let’s get it done, he’s going to put guys in position to make the most out of their talent.”
Jackson spent the past two seasons as quarterbacks coach in Baltimore, helping Joe Flacco develop into an NFL starter. He also has been offensive coordinator in Atlanta and Washington and coached receivers in Cincinnati during a long career as an NFL assistant.
The players in Oakland welcomed him immediately, offering praise all offseason for his energy and the way he holds them accountable for their mistakes.
“Sometimes you can go places and people put up a stop sign until they get to know you,” Jackson said. “Our guys have really embraced my attitude and the things that I’m looking for because the bottom line is we want to win, and we expect to win here. And that’s the difference. There is an expectation here. The Raiders are supposed to win. And that is our expectation and that’s what we are going to do.”
That has not happened in recent years as the Raiders have gone an NFL-worst seven seasons with at least 11 losses. They had one of the worst offenses in the league during a 5-11 campaign last season. They were second-to-last in the league in scoring with 197 points and gained the second-fewest yards.
The team showed some improvement after Cable benched Russell midway through the season, scoring 5.8 more points and gaining more than 100 additional yards of offense per game in the final seven contests started by Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye.
But the team acquired Campbell from Washington during the draft to take over the offense that Jackson believes has plenty of talent with running backs Michael Bush and Darren McFadden, tight end Zach Miller and receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy an Chaz Schilens.
The first-team offense sputtered a bit in the exhibition opener, failing to score any points. But Campbell led a strong opening drive for a touchdown last week in Dallas as the Raiders showed signs of clicking.
Jackson is looking to see more improvement this week against San Francisco.
“We’re trying to build a bully here,” Jackson said. “We want to go back and take our football team and understand what the Raiders tradition is. I think every player that wears that helmet understands what we’re trying to build here each and every day, and it’s about competing. It’s about going out there every day and being the best at what you do, and I think our guys are taking that challenge.”
Notes: CB Chris Johnson (hamstring) was limited at practice and will not play Saturday against the 49ers. … Coach Tom Cable said Campbell and the starting offense will likely play into the third quarter Saturday. Bruce Gradkowski, who missed the first two preseason games with a groin injury, will get plenty of time after that as the team is deciding whether Gradkowski or Kyle Boller will be the backup to Campbell once the season starts.
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