Former Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson confirmed that he has accepted an offer to become the Oakland Raiders' next offensive coordinator.
After playing a major role in the development of Baltimore's offense, he now faces an immense challenge with a unit that ranked 31st in net yardage last year by averaging 286.0 per game.
"It's going to be hard to leave here," Jackson told BaltimoreRavens.com. "I have nothing but great memories. Two playoff appearances, playing in the AFC Championship game and developing a young quarterback. Knowing what Joe [Flacco] is going to become is one of the hard parts about it.
"But the challenge with going to the Oakland Raiders and helping them become what they want to become is exciting. That's what you look for. I want to run to the challenge."
Jackson was scheduled to interview for the same position with the Chicago Bears, but cancelled a Tuesday meeting.
With the Raiders, who did not have an offensive coordinator in name last year, Jackson said he will assume all play-calling duties. Previously, head coach Tom Cable called the offensive plays.
"I'm hired as the offensive coordinator, and I'll be the primary play-caller," he explained. "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 reportedly spent three days in Oakland last week interviewing extensively with longtime Raiders owner Al Davis.
"Tom and I have had some good conversations, but I spent most of my time talking with Mr. Davis," explained Jackson, who coached with Cable at Cal in 1996. "What a man. 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."
As he packed the contents of his office at the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md., Jackson reflected on his time in Baltimore, where he was brought on staff in 2008 by head coach John Harbaugh.
Since then, his upbeat personality became constantly evident both on and off the field, whether it was joking with front-office staffers in the halls or playfully talking trash to the defense at practice.
The Los Angeles native and former college quarterback at the University of the Pacific thought he would miss the Ravens' atmosphere.
"Well, it's an opportunity to go home," said Jackson. "It's going to be hard to leave here. It's a winning organization with great coaches, players and people. There's no question it's a world-class organization headed by Steve Bisciotti, [general manager] Ozzie Newsome, [president] Dick Cass and John Harbaugh.
"But, in this profession, you keep striving to be the best you can be, and I have aspirations of being the next [offensive coordinator] Cam Cameron or John Harbaugh. You have to put yourself in positions to have those opportunities."
Replacing Jackson will be tough. The Ravens could promote current offensive consultant Al Saunders, who possesses 27 years of NFL coaching experience, or look outside the organization.
But Jackson's relationship with Flacco has been well-documented. Flacco came to the NFL from the Football Championship Subdivision University of Delaware and, working closely with Jackson and Cameron, went on to set Ravens records for passer rating (88.9) and completion percentage (63.1) in only his second professional season.
"I wouldn't expect anything less than greatness from him," Jackson said of Flacco. "They're going to win a lot of games with not only the head coach, but with the players here, and Joe heads that up. People talk about my relationship with Joe, which is special, but my relationship with Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Derrick Mason… Those relationships are what makes my time here special, too."
The Raiders are coming off a dismal 5-11 season. They have not made the playoffs since the 2002 campaign. And, there have been reports that Cable's job is far from safe.
Jackson, however, is happy to move to the next level among the coaching ranks.
"I'm excited about it," Jackson said. "It's going to be fun to work with this storied organization. We played the Raiders twice while I was in Baltimore, and they were both tough games. I know that they want to get back to a place where they've been in the past, and it's my goal to help them accomplish that."