Bengals OC Hue Jackson calls firing by Raiders a 'hard' obstacle to get over

CINCINNATI -- Six days before leading the Bengals' offense into Oakland for the season opener, Cincinnati's offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, admitted Monday that it took him a while to get over being fired by the Raiders following the only season he spent as the franchise's head coach.

"That was hard," said Jackson, who led the Raiders to an 8-8 record in 2011 that hasn't been matched since. "We were kind of close. I thought we were. But we just didn't get it done. At the end of the day, it's still a performance business. I thought we had a chance to make the playoffs, and we didn't do it."

The Raiders came up just short of a postseason berth that year, just like they did after another 8-8 mark the year before. Prior to the 2010 season, the most wins the Raiders had in a single season since 2002 was five. Since Jackson's firing after the 2011 season, Oakland has posted a pair of 4-12 records and a 3-13 finish.

Asked whether he felt validated because the Raiders have had three coaches since his departure, Jackson shook his head.

"I think it speaks for itself what has gone on there," Jackson said. "I don't have to say anything. It's been what it's been. I do think it's a very stable place now. [General manager] Reggie McKenzie and [coach] Jack [Del Rio] I'm sure are doing a fantastic job. They'll be up for the challenge this week. They want to play; we want to play."

Jackson added that he understood and accepted the choices Raiders management made to let him go.

"They can decide to go into a different direction at any time, and that's what they did," Jackson said. "But I'm beyond that now. That's in the rearview mirror."

Jackson said it took at least a year for him to get over the firing, which came less than three months after the man who hired him, longtime Raiders owner Al Davis, died.

It didn't help Jackson's process of moving on to face his old squad as soon as he started working with his latest one. As a Bengals assistant in 2012, Jackson was part of a game at Paul Brown Stadium that also served as a homecoming for then-Raider Carson Palmer. Seeing familiar faces brought the memories back.

Three years later, those memories aren't as painful.

"It's not as raw in my emotions as it was back then," Jackson said.

Part of that is because he has learned over the years from his experience of being fired.

"I'm still my get-after-you, type-A personality person, but at the end of the day, I knew there were some things that I could have done differently and better, and I've learned from that," Jackson said. "Everybody learns from their first experience, and I did."

Sunday's opener at O.co Coliseum will mark the first time Jackson has attended a game in Oakland since his firing. He said he won't be feeling any different pregame butterflies simply because of where the game is being played.

"It's just the place we've got to go," Jackson said.