One of the main reasons so many players admire Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson is because of his frankness and his energy. He's embraced his first head-coaching job by espousing the tradition that's gone wayward for much of this decade and made his intent very clear.
Just Win Baby.
Actually, Just Win Now Baby.
"You've got to be able to take that helmet and put it on somebody and that's what we're going to do."
The lockout has prevented Jackson from delivering the directive to his players since communication is forbidden. Still, he said they seem to have gotten the message by spending much of last week training together in Atlanta.
"It tells me that the message I've been sending since the day I became head coach, that players are buying in -- that there is an expectation here again in Oakland," Jackson said. "We got a taste of it a year ago at 8-8. They know it's all in working. There's no magic to this at all. This thing is called hard work."
I spent two days with Raiders players last week and they worked hard. It wasn't simply seven-on-seven drills.
One thing that really stood out in watching them was how young the brunt of the guys on the team were. It was really apparent when Falcons players took the same high school practice field after the Raiders. Atlanta has a more veteran team and its players were all business. Sustained success breeds that swagger. They got on the field, did what they had to do -- efficiently -- and kept it moving.
The Raiders looked more like the Falcons did a few years earlier when they started to gain traction. Granted, the Falcons have been working out for weeks and Oakland's squad hadn't assembled since the last game of the 2010 season. So there was a lot of re-connecting going on while they were working out.
Even so, the players talked a lot of what Jackson was preaching and that was being tougher in all facets. They also said they have bought into Jackson, even though he's on his maiden voyage as a head coach. He was the offensive coordinator last season so a lot of them know his approach. They like it.
He comes at them straight with no chaser so the message isn't mixed.
Just Win Now Baby.