|Bengals assistant coach Hue Jackson, right, shown here with Kansas City QB coach Jim Zorn, faces the team that fired him when the Oakland Raiders travel to Cincinnati. (US Presswire)|
While he offers extensive knowledge of Oakland's roster, the differences between Raider week and any other week end there for him. At least, as far as he's letting on.
“Honestly, it's really another football game,” he said. “For me, it is. It has to be. You can't get caught up in the emotional part of it because that's not what this is about. This is about winning and losing.”
Jackson's role in deciding wins and losses differs dramatically from his time as an offensive coordinator and head coach in Oakland. Marvin Lewis allowed his close friend to see coaching from a different perspective, adding him as the defensive backs and specials teams assistant.
His specialty always lied on the offensive side of the ball, where he made a name for himself as a savvy play-caller and motivator. To become a more complete head coach, he needed training on another side of the football. Ten weeks in, he's felt a dramatic difference.
“To be on the other side of the ball for 10 years, you get to look at it from a different viewpoint,” he said. “I think everybody should have that opportunity to do that. Maybe not in the circumstances I've had to do it, but I think it's good to learn. To me, that's something I now can add to myself as a coach.”
Expertise like his on offense shouldn't go to waste, so Jackson says he offers suggestions from time to time, but tries to keep those limited. It would be easy to look at weapons like A.J. Green and Andy Dalton and attempt to concoct more creative ways to utilize them.
He's consciously removed himself from old habits.
“Honestly, I've tried to stay away from it,” he said. “Every now and then a coach asks me something and I can maybe give him an idea here or there. But at the end of the day, I'm here to coach on defense and really learn it. I've kind of submerged myself into that and tried to stay over there, because I think it helps me. It'd be too easy to go back and gravitate to the other side.”
Indeed, in the grand scheme of making Jackson better prepared for his next head coaching opportunity, he sticks to the plan. He's been open in the past about a desire to return that level of coaching. Of course, his name has already been tossed around as a potential candidate, most notably near his former hometown at Cal where Jeff Tedford was fired.
Jackson handles this subject, too, with grace.
“Whatever the next step is in my life is going to unfold,” he said. “I try not to worry about any of that right now. What I'm trying to do is we're worried about the Oakland Raiders, and that's where I am right now. Try to take it just one step at a time. Whatever the future holds, it holds. I can't worry about it at this point.”
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