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Raiders pick Jackson to be coach after offensive success

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders promoted offensive coordinator Hue Jackson to head coach Monday after he helped the team more than double its scoring output in his first year with the franchise.

Jackson will be formally introduced at a 4:15 p.m. ET news conference Tuesday -- two weeks after the Raiders announced they wouldn't pick up a contract option to keep coach Tom Cable.

"The fire in Hue will set a flame that will burn for a long time in the hearts and minds of the Raider football team and the Raider Nation," team owner Al Davis said in a statement.

Jackson was widely considered the leading contender to land the job as soon as the Raiders announced Cable's departure. This is Jackson's first head-coaching job at any level.

Jackson was hired a year ago to take over the play-calling duties from Cable and oversaw a transformation on offense. Oakland scored more than twice as many points in 2010 as it did in '09 -- and the Raiders won eight games to avoid an eighth consecutive losing season.

"I'm excited about Hue getting the head-coaching job," Raiders tight end Zach Miller said in a telephone interview. "I really like the direction our offense is going and how much we improved. This was the best offensive year we've had since I've been a Raider. I'm excited to have the continuity."

Jackson was popular with players on both sides of the ball in Oakland, with the defenders enjoying the competitive nature he brought to practice each day. Linebacker Quentin Groves wrote on his Twitter feed: "Congrats to Hue Jackson ... This is gonna be a great ride!!!"

Led by quarterback Jason Campbell, a breakout season from running back Darren McFadden and big plays from rookie wide receiver Jacoby Ford, the Raiders finished sixth in the NFL in scoring with 410 points. That also was the sixth-most points in franchise history and a huge improvement from 2009, when former No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell spent most of the time at quarterback.

"That's why I came to the Raiders, was to improve, but we didn't improve fast enough ...," Jackson said late in the season. "We expect to be challenging for the playoffs, challenging for our division year in and year out, and we're not getting that done, so, to me, that's a disappointment. There's either first place or there's last place, and there's no in between."

That was a far different tone than the one expressed by Cable, who notably pronounced, "You can't call us losers anymore," after the Raiders capped the 8-8 campaign by beating the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs in the season finale.

The Raiders won all six division games but just two of their other 10. They became the first team since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to have a perfect record in its division and not make the playoffs.

Jackson will try to return the Raiders to the playoffs for the first time since they won the 2002 AFC championship. Davis has let go of five coaches since then.

The latest was Cable, who had wide support from his players, who credited him with helping make the team a contender in the AFC West this season after a run of seven consecutive years with at least 11 losses.

But Cable's relationship with Davis wasn't as good, and the owner decided not to exercise a two-year, $5 million option to keep him as head coach. Cable filed a grievance against the Raiders to recover $120,000 in fines that Davis withheld from the coach's paychecks in his last season. The two didn't always see eye to eye on who should start at quarterback and other issues.

Jackson had a strong relationship with Jason Campbell, the quarterback whom Davis acquired last offseason to lead the franchise. Campbell spoke glowingly of his relationship with Jackson. Despite being benched twice, Campbell had a solid debut season in Oakland, completing 59 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 84.5 rating.

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Now Campbell will have the rare opportunity to play in the same offense for a second consecutive season. He had four different offenses in four years at Auburn, then four more in six years in the NFL with the Washington Redskins and the Raiders.

Jackson has extensive experience as an assistant in the NFL, working for the Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens for nearly a decade before joining the Raiders. He has coached quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs, along with three stints as an offensive coordinator.

Jackson helped develop quarterback Joe Flacco in Baltimore and groomed Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh in Cincinnati. Ochocinco congratulated Jackson in a Twitter message and called him "Best receiver coach I've ever had."

The Raiders are counting on Jackson being just as successful in his first stint as a head coach. Of the seven head coaches hired this offseason, John Fox in Denver is the only one with previous experience as an NFL head coach.

"He has a strong personality that will carry right over to the whole team," Miller said. "Guys are familiar with him. They know what they're getting with him. He's not a new face coming in as a head coach. Having someone who has been here will make the transition that much easier."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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