FOOTBALL: Jackson named Raiders head coach


Hue Jackson, who presided over one of the NFL’s most improved
offenses in 2010, was elevated from Raiders offensive coordinator
to head coach Monday.
By Jerry McDonald, The Oakland Tribune

Hue Jackson, who presided over one of the NFL’s most improved offenses in 2010, was elevated from Raiders offensive coordinator to head coach Monday.

Jackson, 45, replaces Tom Cable, who left the Raiders on Jan. 4 with a 17-27 record when the club declined to extend a two-year option on his contract after an 8-8 season.

Jackson will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. PST at the club facility in Alameda.

“The fire in Hue will set a flame that will burn for a long time in the hearts and minds of the Raider football team and the Raider Nation,” Raiders owner Al Davis said in a statement.

Jackson is the only known candidate to become the Raiders’ 17th head coach (including two tours by Art Shell) and was promoted after joining the organization last Jan. 26 to take over as the play-caller and offensive coordinator for Cable, who wore both of those hats in 2009.

With Jackson running the offense, the Raiders more than doubled their scoring output, going from 31st in the NFL with 197 points to sixth with 410. Oakland jumped from 31st in total offensive yardage to 10th and went from 21st in the league in rushing to second at 155.9 yards per game.

Having gone 74 games dating back to 2005 without gaining 400 yards of offense in a game, the Raiders gained 406 yards in Week 2 under Jackson in 2010 and finished the season with 400-plus yards five times, including three games of more than 500 yards.

Oakland’s offensive production was the primary reason for a three-game improvement on the 2009 season as the Raiders remained in playoff contention until Week 16, went 6-0 in the AFC West and snapped an unprecedented streak of seven consecutive seasons with 11 or more losses.

Stories hinting at discord between Jackson and Cable during the season were met with denials, with Cable advocating Jackson for other head coaching positions before Davis decided to make a change.

Jackson was given permission by the Raiders on Jan. 4 to interview for the 49ers vacancy after the firing of Mike Singletary. The Raiders announced that same day they had not picked up Cable’s option.

Cable’s departure was met with dismay by a handful of players who publicly backed his return. The promotion of Jackson, tight end Zach Miller believes, could smooth over whatever hard feelings exist from Cable’s ouster.

“I think it will help for some the players, definitely,” Miller said. “Keeping the offensive coordinator as the head coach will allow us to have some continuity and allow us to keep building rather than changing everything up.”

Said cornerback Stanford Routt: “As much as I like Tom and would have liked to have him back, there was a part of me that wanted to see what it would be like to have Hue in charge, and now I guess we’ll find out.”

Jackson’s impact on the offense raised not only the statistical production but the energy level.

During offseason workouts as well as during training camp, Jackson kept up a sharp-tongued running dialogue not only with offensive players but defensive players as well.

“He had these little jabs that he used to make you go out and compete, even during those dog days where you might not feel like it,” Routt said. “It was his way to instill competition in the offense, while at the same time elevating our play because we wanted to shut him up.”

The Raiders are entering their 17th season in Oakland since leaving Los Angeles after the 1994 season, and Jackson is the ninth head coach in that span.

Each of the last two coaches, Lane Kiffin and Cable, filed grievances with Davis over money. Kiffin, fired with cause four games into the 2008 season, had his grievance denied for back pay.

Cable was docked $20,000 in each of his last six paychecks for a total of $120,000 for reasons not made public. Cable’s agent, Don Yee, would only say, “The league will process this matter accordingly.”

Davis interviewed Jackson, then the quarterbacks coach of the Baltimore Ravens, over a three-day period a year ago before hiring him as offensive coordinator. Speculation began immediately he was being groomed to take over as head coach with Cable, 9-19 going into this season, having just a year to go on his contract.

According to ESPN, veteran Al Saunders is likely to become Jackson’s offensive coordinator. Saunders has interviewed with Davis on two occasions to become head coach and once to be an assistant.

Saunders was an offensive consultant with the Baltimore Ravens last year when Jackson was quarterbacks coach, has been an offensive coordinator with the Rams (2008) and Chiefs (2001-05) and was assistant head coach with Washington in 2006-07, during which time Jason Campbell started 20 games at quarterback.

The only Raiders coaches under contract other than Jackson for 2011 are defensive line coach Mike Waufle and defensive backs coach Kevin Ross, although some could be retained.

Defensive coordinator John Marshall, whose unit gave up 30 or more points six times, including four of the last seven games, will not return, according to team sources.

Before joining the Ravens in 2008, Jackson was offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons (2007), wide receivers coach for the Cincinnati Bengals (2004-06), running backs coach and then offensive coordinator of the Redskins (2001-03), offensive coordinator at USC (1997-00), running backs coach and running backs coach and then quarterbacks coach at Arizona State (1992-95).

In 1996, Jackson was offensive coordinator on Steve Mariucci’s staff at Cal, where he worked with Cable. He also had stints as an assistant coach at Pacific (1987-89) and Cal State Fullerton (1990-91).

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