Hey Hue, slow your roll!

Jackson hit the ground running, but he's encountered a few potholes in recent weeks.

Considering where the Raiders have languished for the better part of a decade, this season has already been a success for many on the outside-looking-in.

I’m no longer on the outside-looking-in.

I’ve been to the Coliseum often since relocating to the Bay Area in late July. Initially for A’s games, and now during football season, for Raider games. I’ve rubbed elbows with the wealthy during halftime at the stadium’s West Side Club and exchanged fist pounds with the gritty and creative tenants of the Black Hole on game day.

I get it.

The city of Oakland has character and soul, but then again, so does Brooklyn, my home town. Fitting in at the Coliseum, whether it’s on the field pre-game with Ice Cube or CEO Amy Trask, who I already respect tremendously, in the parking lot with the fans, or in the press box with my peers, it’s come pretty naturally thus far.

It’s why I’m comfortable issuing a warning of sorts for Hue Jackson.

I’ve seen this script before, and it goes a little something like this: an unapologetic rookie head coach, intelligent and funny, completely at ease in front of a microphone elicits reaction from everyone, and is the life of the party.

It’s great.

When you win.

Rex Ryan is like that, and he’s been like that from Day 1. Rex has also led his team to consecutive conference title games.

Hue Jackson is a LOT like Rex Ryan, and is using the same blueprint 3000 miles away.

Jackson’s  engineered a renaissance thru the first 7 weeks of the season, restoring passion and faith in the fan base, and gaining national headlines in beating the Jets and Texans, two squads every pundit positioned as playoff teams following the condensed offseason.

Truth be told, any lingering residue from the JaMarcus Russell nightmare was snuffed out last season as the Raiders, despite failing to qualify for the playoffs, earned respect by running the table in the AFC West.

Jackson’s upbeat training camp only added to the positive vibe, and heightened the expectations for Raider Nation.

However, the NFL is about discipline and consistency, and thus far, the Raiders are neither disciplined nor consistent.

Why?

Week 1: despite winning in Denver, the Raiders committed a ghastly 15 penalties.

Week 2: after jumping out to a 21-3 halftime lead in Buffalo, the Bills promptly scored on all 5 second half possessions, saddling the Raiders with a loss, quite frankly, they should not have.

Week 5: with emotions running high following the passing of Al Davis, Oakland stumbles thru an anemic offensive stretch before rallying for an inspiring last-second win in Houston. Still, the Raiders had only 10 defenders on the field as Matt Schaub was picked off in the end zone at the gun. A win is a win, especially on the road, but how in the world is that possible? At that moment? 10 players?

Week 6: back home to honor Al Davis, the Raiders jumped out to an early lead, and were about to bury the Browns for good when Jackson eschewed a short FG on 4th and 1 from the 5. Instead, the Raiders got careless, were slammed shut on 4th down, allowed a 95 yard drive to give the Browns life, and then, after failing to recover the onsides kick, sweated out a last second win with Cleveland driving with a chance to tie. Kick the field goal, and you’re up 3 scores with 5:00 to go in the game, and at that point, it’s lights out.

Week 7: Chiefs 28, Raiders 0. (oh yeah, 14 more penalties)

Sure, Kyle Boller is a backup for a reason, but was there even a game plan? More specifically, was there a Plan B, in case Plan A failed? I’m still not sure. During the week following the acquisition of Carson Palmer from the Bengals, offensive coordinator Al Saunders told a Kansas City radio station, that “as long as he’s breathing,” Palmer should be ready to go. The following days were filled with strange sound bytes and mixed signals, confusing the media and fans, but even worse, confusing the one guy you have so much invested in.

Carson Palmer.

I asked Palmer this afternoon on my radio show, when he went to sleep Saturday night, what was his expectation for Sunday? His response is frightening:

“I was told I was not going to play…it was a complete shock when (he) told me at halftime and obviously, I wasn’t prepared or ready.”

Whoaaaaaaa!

What?

Being coy with the media for the sake of gamesmanship, that’s one thing. It’s part of the culture in the NFL. Never divulge too much about injuries and game plans. Keep it vanilla, benign. I get it.

But when an NFL player uses the word “shocked” to describe how he felt upon entering a game, that’s just mind-boggling. Especially one who was lounging on the couch last week!

I like Hue Jackson, hell, I’m even rooting for Hue Jackson. The hope in the air on game day at the Coliseum, it’s palpable, and it immediately brings me back to 1997, when Bill Parcells was repairing the wreckage left behind by Rich Kotite. Maybe it’s because I can relate. These fans aren’t hungry. They are famished.

Hey Coach, I know you want to sprint. But you might be better served working up to a nice jog.

Less chance of tripping.

Owning the press conference is one thing, but at the end of the day, this sport is all about owning Sunday afternoons.

Back to basics.

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1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

     /  10/27/2011

    great read BT, ny fan 🙂

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