Raiders promote Hue Jackson to coach
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders promoted offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to head coach on Monday after he helped the team more than double its scoring output in his first year with the franchise.
Jackson will be formally introduced at a news conference Tuesday -- two weeks after the Raiders announced they were not picking up an option to keep coach Tom Cable.
"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," owner Al Davis said in a statement.
Jackson was widely considered the leading contender to get the job as soon as the Raiders announced Cable's departure. This is Jackson's first head coaching job at any level.
Jackson was hired a year ago to take over the play-calling duties from Cable and oversaw a transformation on offense. Oakland scored more than twice as many points in 2010 as it did in '09 -- and the Raiders won eight games and avoid an eighth straight losing season.
"I'm excited about Hue getting the head coaching job," Raiders tight end Zach Miller said in a phone interview. "I really like the direction our offense is going and how much we improved. This was the best offensive year we've had since I've been a Raider. I'm excited to have the continuity."
Jackson was popular with players on both sides of the ball in Oakland, with the defenders enjoying the competitive nature he brought to practice each day. Linebacker Quentin Groves wrote on his Twitter feed, "Congrats to Hue Jackson ... This is gonna be a great ride!!!"
Led by quarterback Jason Campbell, a breakout season from running back Darren McFadden and big plays from rookie receiver Jacoby Ford, the Raiders finished sixth in the league in scoring with 410 points.
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 in a statement
That was the sixth-most points in franchise history and a huge improvement from 2009, when former first overall pick JaMarcus Russell spent most of the time at quarterback.
"That's what I came here for," Jackson said late in the season. "It would be different if there wasn't and then I'd be really upset but that's why I'm here. That's why I came to the Raiders, was to improve, but we didn't improve fast enough. ... We expect to be challenging for the playoffs, challenging for our division year in and year out and we're not getting that done, so to me, that's a disappointment. There's either first place or there's last place and there's no in between."
That was a far different tone than the one expressed by Cable, who notably pronounced "you can't call us losers anymore," after the Raiders capped an 8-8 season by beating AFC West champion Kansas City in the season finale.
The Raiders won all six division games, but only two of their other 10 games. They became the first team since the 1970 merger to have a perfect record in the division and not make the postseason.
Jackson will try to get the Raiders back to the playoffs for the first time since winning the 2002 AFC championship. Davis has let go of five coaches since then.
The latest was Cable, who had wide support from his players, who credited him with helping make the team a contender in the AFC West this season after a run of seven straight years of at least 11 losses.
But Cable's relationship with Davis was not as good and the owner decided not to exercise a two-year, $5 million option to keep him as head coach. Cable filed a grievance against the Raiders to recover $120,000 in fines that Davis withheld from Cable's paychecks in his last season. The two did not always see eye to eye on who should start at quarterback and other issues.
Jackson had a strong relationship with Campbell, the quarterback Davis acquired last offseason to lead the franchise. Campbell spoke glowingly of his relationship with Jackson. Despite being benched twice, Campbell had a solid debut season in Oakland, completing 59 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a passer rating of 84.5
Now he gets rare the opportunity to play in the same offense for a second straight season. He had four different offenses in four years at Auburn, then four more in six years in the NFL with Washington and Oakland.
Jackson has extensive experience as an assistant in the NFL, working in Washington, Cincinnati, Atlanta and Baltimore for nearly a decade before joining the Raiders. He has coached quarterbacks, receivers and running backs, along with serving three stints as an offensive coordinator.
He helped develop quarterback Joe Flacco in Baltimore and groomed Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in Cincinnati. Ochocinco congratulated Jackson in a Twitter message and called him "Best receiver coach I've ever had."
The Raiders are counting on him being just as successful in his first stint as a head coach. Of the seven head coaches hired this offseason, John Fox in Denver is the only one with previous experience as an NFL head coach.
"He has a strong personality that will carry right over to the whole team," Miller said. "Guys are familiar with him. They know what they're getting with him. He's not a new face coming in as a head coach. Having someone who has been here will make the transition that much easier."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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