Paul Sakuma / Associated Press file, 2011

Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer talks with then-coach Hue Jackson during an October 2011 game.

Ex-Raiders coach to face his old team

Published: Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 7C
Last Modified: Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012 - 8:53 am

ALAMEDA – The Raiders are well past the short-lived Hue Jackson era, struggling at 3-7 with their former coach on the opposite sideline today as an assistant for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Jackson, the Raiders' coach last season, is a blip on the Mike White-Joe Bugel-Jon Gruden-Bill Callahan-Norv Turner-Art Shell-Lane Kiffin-Tom Cable-Dennis Allen radar screen since the franchise returned to Oakland in 1995.

Jackson taught the Raiders how to score touchdowns, again fell short of the playoffs and was ousted by new general manager Reggie McKenzie as owner Mark Davis authorized the restructuring of the franchise after a season that included the death of his father, Al Davis.

"I guess you never know what's going to happen, especially with this team," linebacker Rolando McClain said. "That's just the business we're in. It caught me by surprise. I didn't expect it."

Jackson is in the process of rebuilding his résumé for another opportunity, working with defensive backs and as an assistant special-teams coach with the Bengals under Marvin Lewis.

Lewis said Jackson, an offensive coach until this season, "provides a completely different perspective than other assistant coaches and position coaches do. He's a great tactician and sees the details and the big picture."

With the Raiders, Jackson was out front and outspoken, hired by Al Davis to take over the offense from Cable in 2010 and ascending to head coach the following season.

A team that scored 44 touchdowns in the two seasons before he arrived scored 82 in two years under his watch on offense.

Two of his major projects were running back Darren McFadden and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, players whom Davis selected with the No. 4 and No. 7 picks in the 2008 and 2009 drafts.

Under Kiffin and Cable, McFadden battled injuries, averaged 3.9 yards per carry and was approaching bust status after two seasons. When Jackson arrived as offensive coordinator, McFadden gained 1,157 yards in 13 games and was leading the league in rushing with 614 yards last season before being sidelined by a midfoot sprain.

"He helped me out a whole lot, just building my confidence, and he gave me the opportunity to show folks I can go out there and run the ball the way I do," said McFadden, who has been hampered by an ankle injury this season and has only 455 rushing yards and a 3.3 average this season.

As offensive coordinator in 2010, Jackson expressed confidence in a struggling Heyward-Bey, lauding his practice habits and attitude. Heyward-Bey blossomed in 2011 with 64 receptions for 975 yards.

"He just saw the work I put in. He believed in me," said Heyward-Bey, who also has dealt with injuries this season and has 28 catches for 440 yards. "He was the type of coach who called plays to see if you could make a play. He has confidence in his guy over whoever is defending him. You like that as a player."

Jackson's ability to run the offense was cited by both offensive and defensive players.

"He's a phenomenal play-caller," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "He does a great job of keeping defenses off-balance and surprising them with new stuff. Obviously it was time for a switch here with the new regime coming in, but I thought Hue was a great coach and will get another opportunity."

Jackson declined to answer questions specific to his tenure with the Raiders.

Meanwhile, he waits for a second opportunity.

"He was a great offensive coordinator. His offense put up a lot of points," safety Michael Huff said. "He'll definitely get a chance to be a head coach down the line."

Et cetera – Linebacker Kaelin Burnett was promoted from the practice squad to fill the spot vacated by Aaron Curry's release, the Associated Press reported.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jerry McDonald



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