“Catch the ball with your hands, keep it off your pads.”
Wearing a burgundy long-sleeve sweat shirt in intense sun, high humidity and
90+ degree heat, Jackson is in constant motion.
The Redskins offensive coordinator is giving guard Randy Johnson and hand to get up off the Redskins Park turf. He’s running 30 yards upfield to talk to rookie Sultan McCullough when the back slipped and fell after catching a pass. And he’s clapping his hands, always clapping his hands.
“God Dang it, let’s go.”
"Finish the run, finish the run, go, go, go."
Jackson had the title Offensive Coordinator added to his duties as running backs coach just after last season ended. Steve Spurrier decided to forgo that role in order to be able to spend more time becoming involved in other aspects of the team, such as special teams and scouting.
"Keep running, keep running, keep running"
"Go, go, go, go."
He seems to be enjoying his new role. It’s a big leap going from having to focus on just one or two players on the field at a time to having responsibility for all 11. At this point, though, Jackson isn’t particularly concerned with, say, exactly how the tailback reads the blocks in the interior of the line on a given play.
“I’m not worried about plays right now,” he said. His concerns are more with things like passion, intensity, and, mostly, performance.
While talking about his team’s speed, he said that this could be one of the fastest teams in the league, but cautioned that “It’s a performance business. If you run 4.2, you must play 4.2.”
Later, when asked about the offensive line, Jackson was cautiously optimistic. They have some great pieces, he said, but, “Talent doesn’t make an offensive line. You’ve got to play.”
"YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH."
"That's not the way you do it in a game, that's not the way you do a drill."
His intensity stands out in a very intense business. It doesn’t matter if the running backs are weaving around inverted trash cans, if the offense is involved in a full 11 on 11 drill, if players are blocking against dummies or dancing through ropes, he’s into it. In fact, he was even paying rapt attention to a punting drill.
Why the intensity? “It’s a long camp,” said Jackson. “We as the coaches, we have to supply the energy sometimes.”
"Hold on to the ball. The ball's the most precious thing in the game."
“Keep your base, don’t over extend.”
If Jackson’s enthusiasm seems more like you’ll find in the NCAA ranks than in the sometimes-jaded NFL, it’s no coincidence. Before coming to the Redskins as part of Marty Schottenheimer’s staff in 2001, he had spent 14 years as a college assistant coach, the last four as offensive coordinator for Southern Cal.
He’s coaching a couple of former Trojans. Chad Morton signed with the Redskins in part because he had confidence that Jackson would give him a fair shot at getting time at running back. He’ll get that shot, said Jackson, but “he knows that his primary role on this team will be to return kicks.”
“Come on, Sultan, faster, faster, faster.”
The other USC alum in Jackson’s backfield is rookie free agent Sultan McCullough. Jackson recruited McCullough out of high school and helped him adjust to college life. He wants to help McCullough now, but he can’t, at least not to the extent he did at USC.
“He has to understand that this is a business here. I can’t be the father figure,” Jackson said. “I can’t give him all of the love and attention that he needs, but he knows that I’m always there for him.”
“Good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good.”
“Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.”
Among Jackson’s most frequently-shouted exhortations:
"Keep your intensity, keep your intensity"
You certainly can’t accuse him of not practicing what he preaches