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At a press conference Tuesday, Raiders managing general partner Al Davis said he was "proud as hell" to introduce Hue Jackson as the team's new head coach.
Jackson served as Oakland's offensive coordinator last season, and the team made major strides on that side of the ball, improving from 31st in the league in yardage gained to 10th. He replaces Tom Cable, who was let go after leading the team to an 8-8 record, which was its best finish since the 2002 season.
"Today is a big day for the Raiders because we have the opportunity to bring to you someone who has made a tremendous impression on the organization and did a great deal for the organization this past year," Davis said.
Jackson thanked Davis for the opportunity and said the Raiders are ready to get back to the postseason after an eight-year absence.
"There is no question that we're going to win this division and that we're going to get in those playoffs and we're going to challenge for the Super Bowl," Jackson said. "That's what I'm here for."
The PFW spin
Davis threw bouquets at Jackson today, and none of the other three candidates Davis said he interviewed for the job came very close to getting it. Yet, how many chances will Jackson get if his prediction for AFC West supremacy doesn't prove to be accurate in Year One?
Keep in mind that while Oakland took a significant step forward in 2010, it beat only two teams (San Diego and Kansas City) that finished with records above .500.
It doesn't seem as though Davis is growing any more patient in his 81st year. He expects the Raiders to be an elite team, and Jackson apparently believes that they are ready to play at that level. This is his first time as a head coach, however, and the Raiders are facing some difficult decisions in a free-agency period that could weaken them.
There are key players on both offense and defense with expiring contracts, and departures by one or two of those players would leave major voids. CB Nnamdi Asomugha, DT Richard Seymour — both of whom were named to the Pro Bowl — TE Zach Miller, OG Robert Gallery and RB Michael Bush all are due to get a chance to explore the open market.
Jackson has proved his offensive acumen, but he's going to need help from a strong defensive coordinator, and some of the top candidates for the job have already landed with other teams. The D-coordinator position is still vacant as of Tuesday evening after John Marshall was reportedly dismissed.
Cable inherited a team in disarray when he was promoted to interim head coach four games into 2008, and he helped return the Raiders to respectability in 2¾ seasons on the job. Going from respectability to Super Bowl contender could be an even tougher leap to make, and if it doesn't happen quickly, Jackson's time in Oakland will probably be brief.