Friday, April 02, 2010

Hue Who? Raiders new OC looks to turn things around

Third in a series evaluating the Raiders prior to the draft and 2010 season.
Position: Offensive Coordinator – Hue Jackson and key assistants

New Raiders Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson was a guy most Raiders fans had probably never heard of when Oakland announced his hiring. The fact that Jackson doesn’t carry the reputation or giant playbook a guy like Mike Martz does means nothing come game day. Jackson needs to find a way to develop a young offense into a scoring machine. Based on his background Jackson may be just man for the job.

The Raiders averaged a meager 12.3 points per game in 2009 (31st in the NFL). The offense struggled in almost every area. It also showed its potential it brief flashes like the fourth quarter of the victory over the Steelers. It’ll be up to Jackson to bring out that potential on a more consistent basis.

The initial reports were that Jackson was brought in to develop JaMarcus Russell the way he developed Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Not so fast Head Coach Tom Cable said at the owners meetings. “With him (Jackson), it’s not just one guy. He’s got to get 11 guys on the same page and moving in the right direction. We need to score at least two touchdowns and a couple field goals a game. If we can do that, if we can get better play at quarterback, we’ll be fine.”

Jackson has the resume to suggest he can get the most out of young quarterbacks. He coached Carson Palmer at USC and Flacco in the NFL to success. Jackson will get a mixed bag of youngsters in Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye and JP Losman to work with.

The receiving corps may also benefit from Jackson’s time coaching Chad Ochcinco and company in Cincy. Tom Cable may find himself with more time to get the offensive line back on track as Jackson handles primary game planning and play-calling duties.

Other key offensive coaches in 2010 –

Sanjay Lal – Wide Receivers
Young Raiders wide receivers had mixed results in 2009. Under Lal’s care, Chaz Schilens looked ready to roll but was shelved early by injury. Rookie Louis Murphy had a solid year especially given the woeful QB play early. Murphy’s ability to read the Steelers blitz, adjust his route and catch the game-winning pass is a testament to solid coaching. Then there was Darrius Heyward-Bey. The Raiders first round pick is an athelete the team hopes to turn into a football player. The guy most responsible for making that happen is Lal. If Lal can groom DHB into a playmaker, he’ll have proven himself as a coach in a big way.

Jim Michalczik – Offensive Line
In fairness to the Raiders line coach 2009 got off to a horrendous start. Injuries early to Khalif Barnes, Samson Satele and most importantly, Robert Gallery left Michalczik looking like a huge drop-off from the promoted Cable. In 2010 Cable will have more time to help get a healthy line back on track. Michalczik also needs to develop some depth and may have a draft pick or two to work with as well. The line needs to improve at pass protection and find a way to run short yardage plays effectively.

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