Hue Jackson to run Oakland's offense
Jackson is the second assistant hired by the Raiders since the end of the season, joining defensive line coach Mike Waufle. Although owner Al Davis has not yet committed to bringing Tom Cable back as head coach in 2010, he has hired two assistants with ties to Cable.
Jackson and Cable worked together on the staff at Cal-State Fullerton in 1990 and at California in 1996. Waufle and Cable also worked together at Cal in the 1990s.
The Raiders have pointed out Cable's ties with the new coaches in their news releases announcing the hires. Cable is also at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week, and although a final decision on his status hasn't been announced, a source close to the situation told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Davis will retain Cable.
"We continue to evaluate the staff and make changes to get better achievement," senior executive John Herrera said Tuesday. "It's still an ongoing process."
Jackson is expected to take over the play-calling duties from Cable, who did not have an offensive coordinator in his first full season as coach. Cable also coached the offensive line and admitted after the season that he might have been overextended.
"I'm hired as the offensive coordinator, and I'll be the primary play-caller," Jackson told the Ravens' team Web site. "That's my role. It's a chance to go out and assist the head coach and be the best offense we can be."
Cable endorsed the move to bring Jackson on board.
"I think it's a good decision by the organization," Cable told National Football Post from the Senior Bowl. "It's someone that I'm familiar with. It's someone that I think can help us take the next step, so we're all pretty excited about it."
The Raiders 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 on the way to their record seventh straight season with at least 11 losses.
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.
Russell completed 48.8 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 50.0 passer rating that was the lowest in the league since 1998. But Davis still believes in Russell, saying during the season that people needed to have patience.
Jackson helped Flacco make it to the playoffs in his first two seasons in the NFL with the Ravens and also worked with Carson Palmer as the offensive coordinator at USC. Now he wants to develop Russell.
"This guy was the first player drafted. It's going to be fun to see if we can get him up and playing the way we all wish that he can perform," Jackson told ESPN 1000 in Chicago. "It's not just about JaMarcus. The quarterback takes on a whole life by itself but it's the team, the whole offensive unit [that] has to perform well around the quarterback."
Jackson spent time in California last week, meeting mostly with Davis but also with Cable. He was also mentioned as a possible candidate to be offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears but chose the Raiders instead.
He told Ravens.com that the opportunity to work with Davis was part of the attraction in Oakland.
"What a man," Jackson said. "He's one of the guys in this profession that you would like to have an opportunity to sit down and talk with, let alone work for. My conversations with him led me there. Hopefully, things will work as planned, and I think we're capable of doing it."
Along with coaching quarterbacks, Jackson also has experience as a running backs and receivers coach in the NFL. He worked with a talented receiving corps in Cincinnati with Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry.
The Raiders got almost no production out of their wideouts last season, getting only 99 catches from the entire unit. Darrius Heyward-Bey had a difficult rookie season marred by drops and a foot injury that sidelined him for the final five games. Heyward-Bey had only nine catches before the injury.
Jackson's career move now leaves the Ravens with an opening. Baltimore will have two primary options in hiring a quarterbacks coach, sources told Schefter. The first would be to promote offensive consultant Al Saunders, who has fared well in working with quarterbacks, and the other is to hire former Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn.
At the very least, the Ravens will interview Zorn for the position before making their decision about which coach would be best to work closely with Flacco.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.