Raiders

Raiders elevate Jackson to head coach

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Raiders elevate Jackson to head coach

Jan. 17, 2011
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

Never oneto miss the opportunity to make a statement or take advantage ofsymbolism, Al Davis chose Martin Luther King Jr. Day to announce HueJackson as the second African-American head coach in franchise history.Art Shell had two tours of duty with the Raiders, from 1989 through 1994 and again in 2006.Davis, though, was careful not to mention race in pronouncing Jacksonas the Raiders ninth coach since they returned to Oakland from LosAngeles in 1995. Davis verbiage, though, was indeed flowery in astatement released by the team.RELATED: Raiders' statement on Hue Jackson
The fire in Hue will set a flame that will burn for a long time in thehearts and minds of the Raider football team and the Raider Nation,Davis said.Jackson, 45, had been the leading and logical candidate to replace TomCable ever since the Raiders announced on Jan. 4 they would not pick upCables two-year, 5-million option.In fact, Jackson was seen in many corners as the HCIW (Head Coach InWaiting) from the moment he was hired by Davis to be the play-callerand offensive coordinator last January.Jackson, who could not be reached for comment and will be officiallypresented Tuesday at 1 p.m. in Alameda, acknowledged on Dec. 16 hewanted to one day be a head coach.Let me say this: I have the best job in football right here, coachingwith the Oakland Raiders as their offensive coordinator, Jackson saidat the time. I like what I do.I like our players. I like the people that Im around every day. Ivegotten to know some of you (in the media) and Ive enjoyed my timehere. I would be wrong to say that everybody whos in my positiondoesnt want to go have that opportunity some day to be the best thatthey can be. Thats what I want to do. Thats what we all want to do.In his first season as the Raiders O.C., he improved the offense fromNo. 31 overall in 2009 to No. 10 overall this past season and boastedthe No. 2 rushing attack in the NFL. The Raiders also more than doubledtheir scoring output and, thanks in part to a breakout season byrunning back Darren McFadden, first-year quarterback Jason Campbellgetting comfortable in his skin, and rookie receiver Jacoby Ford arevelation, their 410 points scored were the sixth most in the league.It was the sixth-highest scoring output in franchise history.Guys have said all season how much improved we are on offense, tightend Zach Miller said the week before the season finale. We were prettybad last year on offense. To have a turnaround like that is a greatcredit to our players and coach Jackson.McFadden agreed, somewhat.We got a lot better, McFadden said, but at the same time, we left alot of plays out there. Some games we were saying we should have had 20more points out there. Its something you have to deal with infootball. We got a lot better out there.Still, while 8-8 was the Raiders best record since 2002 and ended astreak of seven straight seasons with at least 11 defeats, Oaklandmissed the postseason, despite going 6-0 in the AFC West.We expect to be challenging for the playoffs, challenging for ourdivision year in and year out and were not getting that done, so, tome, thats a disappointment, Jackson said on Dec. 30. Theres eitherfirst place or theres last place and theres no in between.This will be Jacksons first head job on any level and no financialterms or length of contract for him have been disclosed. As such, thereare questions as to if he will continue his role as the play-caller.Longtime NFL coach Al Saunders, who has long been a favorite of Davisand was Baltimores senior offensive assistant this past season, isbeing rumored as an offensive coordinator candidate.Plus, with John Marshall reportedly on his way out, Jackson would needa new defensive coordinator. Rob Ryan, rumored for the job, is on hisway to Dallas, though, according to numerous reports.Defensive line coach Mike Waufle is still under contract, though his interest level is not known.Jackson has coached in Washington, Cincinnati and Atlanta and came tothe Raiders from Baltimore, where he was the Ravens quarterbackscoach. His relationship with Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, who ispurportedly soured on Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis, is sure to gettongues wagging.At 13 days, the time between Cables dismissal and Jacksons hiring isthe shortest amount of time Davis has taken to hire a successor. Ittook Davis 18 days to hire Lane Kiffin after Shell was shown the doorfour years ago.And that was definitely not on MLK Day.

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

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USATSI

How John Pagano plans to impact Raiders defense: ‘There is always room for change’

ALAMEDA – John Pagano can’t implement his scheme in a week. He can’t import his plays and preferences cultivated during five seasons as Chargers defensive coordinator. Full offseason programs and training camps are required for that.

Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired on Tuesday. Pagano will call his first Raiders game five days later against Denver at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders’ assistant head coach – defense believes he can impact how the Silver and Black does business.

“There’s always room for change and there’s always room for doing things better,” Pagano said Thursday. “Without telling you our game plan, it’s about how we go out and execute the call, bottom line.”

Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders weren’t playing fast enough. They weren’t creating enough turnovers, weren’t doing well enough on third down and weren’t regularly affecting the quarterback due to a lack of both rush and coverage.

That’s why Norton had to go.

Pagano’s first objective, which must get accomplished in a few days, is getting the Raiders to play with confidence. Then he can add some design wrinkles with some of his personality.

“You have to have that ability of going out there, knowing your assignment and playing faster,” Pagano said. “It’s not to say that there have been times where we’ve simplified things, but taking the thinking out of the game and making them react is, I think, most important. Going out there and playing fast and that’s doing the little extra things, the attention to details of studying and getting those things processed. See ball, go get ball.”

That last sentence sums up how Pagano wants his guys to play. He’s a quality play caller and creative blitzer with a knack making simple plays look complex. He can find and exploit opposing weak links. His defenses have always been good creating pressure and turnovers alike. The Raiders need more of both.

To do that Pagano wants to relieve a player’s mental burden and keep them focused on using talent well.

“The one thing I’ve always stressed and always been about is technique, fundamentals and unbelievable effort,” Pagano said. “I think those three things can get you home.”

The Raiders haven’t been home much as a defense. They’re tied for last with 14 sacks. They’re dead last with six turnovers. They’ve gone 10 games without an interception, the longest single-season drought in NFL history.

A lack of big defensive plays has killed the Raiders this season. It obviously increases points allowed. Good field position has been hard to come by. The offense has to earn everything the hard way. That’s a recipe for losing football, a maddening turn after the Raiders finished second with 30 takeaways last year.

Pagano has a chart listing “MOPs,” short for missed opportunities. There have been many, especially in a secondary he oversaw before this week.

“I talked to these guys this week about we need to do simple better,” Pagano said. “What is simple? It’s fundamentals of covering. It’s tackling. It’s communicating. It’s catching the ball when it comes. We’ve had opportunities. It’s not like we’re out there struggling and straining to dive and layout for the thing. It’s hit us in the hands where we’ve had many, many opportunities.”

Missed opportunities have also plagued a pass rush featuring reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack. Pagano brought up a moment early in Sunday’s lost to New England, when Treyvon Hester forced a fumble near three teammates that the Patriots somehow recovered.

Pagano’s goal is to improve performance. Players must buy in to do that. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin headline a large group close to Norton, one with enough pride and professionalism to get behind a new playcaller in Pagano, who could be here long term.

“There is a human element to this,” Pagano said. “We are family. It’s sad any time a member of your family gets dismissed or something. At the end of the day, we have the Broncos coming in here on Sunday and we have to get our minds right to go play this game. That’s something that they’ve done a great job with this week, truly focusing in on what we need to do.”

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

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USATSI

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Several defensive players were upset about Norton's firing, but Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.” Defensive stars declined comment Wednesday or didn't appear in the locker room when the media was present. 

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”