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Jackson accepts Raiders' offensive coordinator job, Russell project

The Raiders hired Hue Jackson as their offensive coordinator Tuesday, hoping the quarterbacks coach who helped develop Joe Flacco in Baltimore can do the same for JaMarcus Russell in Oakland.

Jackson is the second new assistant hired by the Raiders since the end of the season, joining defensive line coach Mike Waufle. While Raiders owner Al Davis hasn't yet committed to bringing Tom Cable back for the 2010 season, he has hired two assistants with ties to the coach.

Jackson and Cable worked together on the staff at Cal State Fullerton in 1990 and at the University of California in 1996. Waufle and Cable also worked together at Cal in the 1990s.

The Raiders have pointed out Cable's ties with the coaches in their news releases announcing the hires. Cable also is at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week, although no final decision has been made on his status.

"We continue to evaluate the staff and make changes to get better achievement," Raiders senior executive John Herrera said. "It's still an ongoing process."

Cable endorsed the move to bring Jackson on board.

"I think it's a good decision by the organization," Cable told National Football Post from the Senior Bowl. "It's someone that I'm familiar with. It's someone that I think can help us take the next step, so we're all pretty excited about it."

Jackson is expected to take over play-calling duties from Cable, who didn't have an offensive coordinator in his first full season as coach. Cable also coached the offensive line and admitted after the season that he might have been overextended.

"I'm hired as the offensive coordinator, and I'll be the primary play-caller," Jackson told the Ravens' official Web site. "That's my role. It's a chance to go out and assist the head coach and be the best offense we can be."

Jackson raised a few eyebrows -- particularly those in Chicago -- when he accepted the Raiders' offer without even interviewing for the Bears' offensive coordinator vacancy. Some might view Jackson's move as choosing to work with Russell over Bears starter Jay Cutler, but the coach said Tuesday that wasn't the case.

During an interview on "The Waddle and Silvy Show" on Chicago's ESPN 1000, Jackson said there were many other factors in choosing the Raiders over the Bears. The Los Angeles native grew up rooting for the Raiders and Rams when those teams were based in Southern California. Also, after meeting with Raiders owner Al Davis for three days, Jackson simply didn't want to go through the motions of interviewing with Bears coach Lovie Smith.

Again, it wasn't about coaching Cutler, who threw an NFL-high 26 interceptions during his first season with the Bears.

"My decision had nothing to do with Jay," said Jackson, who was the Ravens' quarterbacks coach the previous two seasons. "If you look at both situations, obviously Jay is probably the more established quarterback. It is more to it. It's the whole team, and when I looked at the whole situation for me, again, family, being from California and the Raiders tradition."

But Jackson sounded ready for the challenge of coaching Russell, who was benched during the season while Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye started in his place.

"No question," Jackson said. "This guy was the first player drafted (in 2007). It is going to be fun to see if we can get him up and playing the way we all wish that he could perform. But it's not just about JaMarcus. ... It's the whole offensive unit that's got to perform well around the quarterback, period."

The Raiders had one of the worst offenses in the league during a 5-11 season. They were second-to-last in the NFL in scoring with 197 points and gained the second-fewest yards on the way to their league-record seventh consecutive season with at least 11 losses.

The team showed some improvement after Cable benched Russell midway through the season, scoring 5.8 more points and gaining more than 100 additional yards of offense per game in the final seven contests started by Gradkowski and Frye.

Russell completed 48.8 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 50.0 rating that was the lowest in the league since 1998. But Davis still believes in Russell, saying during the season that people needed to have patience.

Jackson helped Flacco make it to the playoffs in his first two seasons in the NFL with the Ravens and also worked with current Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer as the offensive coordinator at USC. Now Jackson wants to develop Russell.


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Jackson spent time in California last week, meeting mostly with Davis but also with Cable. Jackson told the Ravens' Web site that the opportunity to work with Davis was part of the attraction in Oakland.

"What a man," Jackson said. "He's one of the guys in this profession that you would like to have an opportunity to sit down and talk with, let alone work for. My conversations with him led me there. Hopefully, things will work as planned, and I think we're capable of doing it."

Along with coaching quarterbacks, Jackson also has experience as a running backs and receivers coach in the NFL. He worked with a talented receiving corps in Cincinnati with Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry.

The Raiders had just 99 catches from their entire receiving corps last season. Darrius Heyward-Bey had a difficult rookie season marred by drops and a foot injury that sidelined him for the final five games. Heyward-Bey had just nine catches before the injury.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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