Raiders begin search for head coach; Jackson in the lead?

Coach_Hue_JacksonOn Monday, the Oakland Raiders confirmed their search for a new head coach.

Senior executive John Herrera told Steve Corkran, “We have begun the interview process,” and spoke on the anonymity of the search.

Oakland will not be disseminate the names of the candidates nor whether or not interviews have taken place.

The logical choice to inherit the job is offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.

If the Raiders want to keep some semblance of continuity, Jackson is their man.  Plus, the players respect and have enjoyed working with the first-year coordinator.

In January of 2010, Jackson stated upon his signing, “I’m hired as the offensive coordinator and I’ll be the primary play caller. 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 was the driving force in the team ranking 10th in the NFL in total offense and ending with 410-points, a year after ranking 31st and scoring 197-points.

He interviewed for the 49ers before they landed their man, Jim Harbaugh. “Al’s very happy to do that,” senior executive John Herrera said of Jackson’s opportunity to talk to other clubs. “He would not stop Hue Jackson from having the opportunity to interview for a head coaching position. He believes in diversity. He didn’t need the Rooney Rule to hire Art Shell [in 1989].”

I never believed Jackson was the 49ers target and said so weeks. Jackson isn’t a candidate anywhere else; including Cleveland, as Mike Holmgren has his eyes on other coaches, Carolina, who will likely go another route and Denver, who at this point is targeting John Fox.

The Raider search is generally discreet and vague many times. Owner Al Davis speaks to many staffers across the league and in the college ranks to either gauge opinions or just to talk football. So it’s unclear by and large who are the real targets.

But such names as Kevin Gilbride, have drawn interest in the past and talked to Raider front office members for the position. Then the usual suspects are thrown into the ring; John Fassel, Dennis Green and Marc Trestman.

It’s clear to me Jackson is the only ‘real’ candidate. Unless the Silver & Black feel he’s not ready for the head coaching duties, and how that could pull him away from the success he had in his first year with the offense, then expect him to be Tom Cable’s successor.

“The challenge with going to the Oakland Raiders and helping them become what they want to become is exciting,” Jackson said last year when he arrived. “That’s what you’re look for. I want to run to the challenge.”

Jackson thrived in his first challenge. But can he succeed in his second? A more challenging up hill climb, taking a team that is disappointed after an 8-8 season, not making the playoffs and losing their beloved coach, and turning a perennial loser from respectable, to a legitimate title contender in 2011.

“I spent most of my time talking with Mr. Davis,” Jackson said last January. “What a man. My conversations with him led me there. Hopefully, things will work as planned and I think we’re capable of doing it.”

Were does plans bigger than we expected? Was there foreshadowing in those comments?

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Contact Author: Victor Cotto – SB Report Columnist

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