Ravens Insider Q&A with Hue Jackson

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson weighed in on several topics during a telephone interview from the Pro Bowl in Hawaii following a practice session at Kapolei High School. Besides discussing quarterback Joe Flacco's outlook after a successful rookie season, Jackson talked about his recent pair of interviews for the San Francisco 49ers' offensive coordinator job.

What do you think the future holds for Joe Flacco and the offense now that he has one season of experience as the starter?

Jackson: "There's not a ceiling on what he can possibly do. There's a lot of hard work ahead. We don't like the way we ended the season. It wasn't the result that any of us wanted. We're shooting for the ultimate prize: winning a championship.

"Joe knows that his position is the key. The first thing we'll try to improve on is the turnovers. I believe he had 12 for the year [Flacco had 12 interceptions and two lost fumbles]. I think he'll tell you that's 12 too many. If he can take care of the ball and do what he's capable of, I think the sky's the limit for him."

Where do you see the biggest areas for Flacco to improve?

Jackson: "I just think in every area, not one area in particular. In his first year, he got that experience of playing in the NFL week in and week out. He'll be a year better and he'll know how to prepare for the different environments, especially what it's like when you play our division opponent.

"Getting a third and fourth crack at all those things will be a benefit to him. Playing every snap for our offense, we're looking forward to hitting the ground running next year with him being the quarterback at the minicamps all the way through training camp. I tell people all the time that Joe has a burning desire to be one of the best players in this league."

Are there some tips you can give Flacco after working with Peyton Manning this week at the Pro Bowl?

Jackson: "I'm at the Pro Bowl this week, coaching one of the best players in Peyton Manning. To watch his mannerisms and how he approaches every practice for the Pro Bowl makes you realize the level that Joe is heading toward and where he needs to be. I'm not trying to compare the two. Manning is one of the best players ever and has won the Super Bowl. It's about, 'How do I get to that game?'

"It's fun for me to watch Manning work. It's also fun for me to be coaching a young man who has a lot of those same characteristics. You're always looking to steal an idea or an approach to share with your players, but everybody is kind of their own guy. Just watching these guys, you see what sets them apart."

Where do you see the offense progressing after improving markedly this past season?

Jackson: "I think it was great. Cam Cameron is fun to work with. He lets you coach and that's the beauty of it. It starts with coach [John] Harbaugh. He gives us an opportunity as a staff to chase perfection. We have some talented players, but, in no way, do we think we've arrived or think we're where we need to be.

"We have so much more room for growth, just like any team does. We respect the fact that the defense in Baltimore has done so well. If we can hold up our end of the bargain and work hard and have the quarterback improve, we can ultimately be what we want to be."

What's your opinion on the quarterback depth behind Flacco in Troy Smith and Todd Bouman?

Jackson: "Troy is a tremendous talent with unbelievable leadership and great character. He's a very talented young man. Unfortunately, he got sick before the season starter [tonsil infection]. Todd Bouman was a great find by our scouting department. He fit right into room with the quarterbacks. A lot of people don't know how to play the role, but Todd is a pro and he understands what he needs to be. There's a calmness about him."

You interviewed twice with 49ers coach Mike Singletary for the offensive coordinator position. What did you learn from the experience?

Jackson: "It was a great experience for me. Sometimes, you go through those things and realize that maybe some things are not the best situation for you. Sometimes, staying where you are is the best situation for you. I've been on a lot of interviews. They have a super thing going on there and I wish them well in San Francisco. I'm glad I'm here with coach Harbaugh and the rest of the staff."

Since you're under contract, were you surprised that the Ravens granted you permission to interview with the 49ers?

Jackson: "I really want to thank Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome and coach Harbaugh for the opportunity to see about the San Francisco situation. That didn't have to happen. I was under contract. They could have said, 'No, you're not going.' Me and coach Harbaugh have a good working relationship. When I tell him I'm not sure, just because there's an opportunity, that doesn't mean you're going to take it.

"The grass isn't always greater. I thank them for letting me go have a look. It makes you realize exactly what you have and aspire to be the best you can be. We have one of the best situations in football in the league. I know San Fran is doing everything they can to be among the elite. I have an opportunity here to coach what I think will be one of the best players in the league."

How close were you to landing the job? What are your thoughts on wanting to be an offensive coordinator in the future after holding that position before with the Atlanta Falcons and the Washington Redskins?

Jackson: "You go through the long flight, you meet the people that you need to meet and you think about the great people in Baltimore as you go through the process. If it was offered, which it wasn't, then you have to make a decision. I'm not going to sit here and say, I'm not going to want to be a coordinator because I know me, I know what's in my heart.

"But what coach Harbaugh has done for me to let me coach the quarterbacks is something nobody else has done. To be involved in the quarterbacks, I'm very loyal to coach Harbaugh and very loyal to Cam as an assistant for our offensive football team. I've been blessed to coach every skill position in this league. As far as the future, it's just a matter of it being the right time and the right situation. Only God knows when that will happen." Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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