The Raiders wasted little time in their search for a new general manager. This week the team set up an interview with Packers Director of Football Operations, Reggie McKenzie, they liked what they heard, and promptly hired him as their General Manager. But these wheels started in motion three decades ago.
McKenzie has long been a frontrunner for the job due in part to his having been a linebacker for the Raiders during his playing career. Also, having presided over the Green Bay Packers during their run to the Super Bowl last season certainly helped make the decision an easy one.
McKenzie was drafted in the 10th round of the 1985 draft by the then Los Angeles Raiders where he played linebacker for four seasons from 1985-1988. He started every game his first two seasons at right inside linebacker in the Raiders' 3-4 scheme. As a rookie, he helped the Raiders win the AFC West with a 12-4 record.
He left the Raiders after the 1988 season and moved on to the Cardinals for two seasons although he never played a game as a Cardinal. He was out of football in 1991 so he spent a season as a defensive coach for Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. In 1992 he played in the World League before coming to the Bay Area where he signed with the San Francisco 49ers and appeared in his final two games as an NFL player.
Wasting no time, he immediately returned to his alma mater where he served as an assistant under head coach Philip Fulmer. That year, the Volunteers appeared in the Florida Citrus Bowl and recruited a quarterback by the name of Peyton Manning. Just to make sure he was making the most of his time there, McKenzie simultaneously pursued a master's degree in Education Administration.
In 1994, just two seasons removed from his NFL playing days, former Raiders personnel director Ron Wolf called his former linebacker to join him with the Packers as a pro personnel assistant. He has been with the Packers ever since. He has worked his way up the ranks in the Packers organization. In 1998, after just four seasons in the Packers front office, he was named Director of Pro Personnel. Then after ten seasons at that position, he was finally named Director of Football Operations in 2008.
During McKenzie's tenure with the Packers, the team had the third most wins in the NFL with 170 regular season wins, trailing only Pittsburgh (172) and New England (180). Also on his watch, the Packers captured seven division titles, three conference championships, and Super Bowls XXXI and XLV, and look poised to make another Super Bowl run.
Now exactly 20 years since he last suited up in the NFL, McKenzie leaves one bay area and returns to the Bay Area in which he played his final NFL game and to the team with which he spent most of his playing career. It was a long time coming for this former player and great football mind. But for McKenzie, his journey started a long time ago.
Reggie isn't just some football player who had visions of running a team. First he was valedictorian of his 1981 high school graduating class. Then he went on to be a two-way star at Tennessee while earning a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in personnel management. It was clear then that he had designs on this day long ago. It couldn't be a better ending for both he and the Oakland Raiders.
As the Raiders' GM, he will likely perform the same duties he performed for the Packers to help them become such a successful franchise in recent years. During the season, McKenzie will provide advance scouting reports on upcoming opponents and will work closely with Hue Jackson and his staff. He also will contribute to the scouting of college prospects, making school visits in both the fall and spring, and work in conjunction with Amy Trask and Mark Davis in preparation for the draft. It is a role in which Ron Wolf said McKenzie is a "tremendous evaluator" of talent.
He will also play an integral role in judging the Raiders' current players and evaluating potential free agents across the league. McKenzie will be heavily involved in all of the team's moves on a daily basis, including all tryouts and transactions.
And like every step of McKenzie's life dating back to high school, there will be no down time. He will come right in and be asked to immediately work with the current staff and front office to hire a new defensive coordinator as well as several defensive assistants.
But make no mistake, if anyone is right for that task, it's McKenzie. He has a proven track record, with relationships built across the league. He should serve to be the first in a string of strong hires for the Raiders as they attempt to ensure a new winning tradition in Oakland.
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I was just checking Wiki on the Raiders and they list Rhett Mathew Bomar as one of our QBs. Did I miss something?
Several have spoken about the possibility of Hue Jackson leaving. I doubt Hue leaves. You don't ditch an 8-8 coach with a top rated offense when the defense was clearly the problem. Hue definitely gets another season. After that if we're still 8-8 Jesus comes to Oakland for meeting. Especially if the rating of the fofense falters and the D gets better. Remember Hue was racking up 40+ point games (and my personal fav 59 pts against DEN) only a year ago when he could focus on offense. And let's not forget that he had a QB with a weaker arm and low self esteem. And DMC was hurt that year too. Speaking of which I'm more concerned about DMC. His injury stat over 4 years is hurting us badly. I am also anxious to see what leaks out of the loccker room in the off season. This is the year we'll hear more about our now second year HC. The released FA's will be talking.
The reason I think Jackson could end up being let go is McKenzie may want to assemble his own staff from scratch. Not to mention Jackson may also not be happy having some of his decision making skills taken away. I don't think he will be fired as such for teams performance but more because of new management, but I guess we will find out in the next couple weeks.
@nilbymouth You're right about that. Time will undoubtedly tell. I hope McKenzie isn't the type to insist on a draconian clean sweep. I prefer leaders who perform careful assessment. He strikes me as a shrewd evaluator who should know that everything may not need fixing. That said, maybe he'll see even greater potential in the offense than he believes Hue can bring out. After all, he's coming from the land of Bret Favre and Aaron Rodgers. They're D hasn't been the factor that paved the road to the playoffs in 2011. It was a 30+ point/game offense.
Matt Flynn is not the answer for the Raiders. Indy is absolutely right when he says that the only game we have seen Flynn play is garbage time in the superBowl. He is a backup quarterback who is not in the same league as Carson Palmer, and should not be even mentioned in the same sentence. C'MON NILBYMOUTH, give Palmer a break. The guy had no training camp or pre-season and was given only a week of practice before he played his first game against Kansas City...He finished his final game with 417 passing yards against the Chargers was down right impressive (only the 3rd Raider to pass for over 400 yards in a game), and made DHB look like a better receiver than he actually is. Imagine Palmer's numbers when he gets a full camp and pre-season, and when the Raiders add Vincent Jackson (you heard it here first!!!) Look, Palmer does have a tendency to throw interceptions from time to time, but so did Bret Farve. Many aggressive strong armed quarterbacks will throw an occasional interception, but can any of you guys honestly say that you wouldn't have wanted Bret Farve on the Raiders for his entire career??? I sure would have...Palmer is a winner and an aggressive minded quarterback who does not fear taking chances and has an arm and mentality that is Bret Farve like, and I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever, and truely believe he, not Matt Flynn, is the right fit for the Raiders
That's true, but Flynn I think will be more like Brady and Warner than Cassell or Kolb. Hey I could be wrong (and it definitely wouldn't be the first time!) but time will see. Plus McKenzie will have a pretty good understanding of Flynn more than most others so I might believe Flynn is worth chasing.
As for giving Palmer a healthy offense and better protection, I still don't think he will be any less turnover prone. He has also been a gun slinger and will still offer more risk than reward. That's just my take on Palmer, and I hope he proves me wrong, I really do for the sake of this team, but I just don't have any faith in him!
@nilbymouth@SnBsn69 I wouldn't mind seeing a change either, although I believe Jackson will stick for at least one more year and that's okay too - as long as we he only coaches and doesn't pretend like he's the owner too.
So far as Carson, I don't think we overpaid - in fact I think we got a bargain. It's easy to look at one game from Matt Flynn - playing with a Super Bowl offense in a garbage time game and believe he's something special, but do we really want to spend big for yet another unproven QB? Remember how good Matt Cassell looked running the New England SB offense? Or how good Kevin Kolb looked? Now both of them are looking like huge expensive mistakes. Going the back-up route almost never pays off. For every Tom Brady or Kurt Warner there are 20 Rob Johnsons, Scott Mitchells, Jay Fiedlers, etc... etc... etc... Give Palmer a healthy offense and a little protection and he's going to pay off - I have zero doubt.
Personally I wouldn't mind seeing a change at HC. I just think that he lost this team and made to many stupid mistakes. I was never a huge Cable fan but he always had the team playing hard for him, something I don't think Jackson had.
As I have said elsewhere at the end of the day Jackson had some questionable play calling throughout the season, has to take some responsibility for the lack of discipline with this team and could put this team back when he decided to over pay for Palmer (which in my opinion was when he started to loose this team).
There is also the fact he should have fired Bresnahan earlier in the season (that is if he had that sort of control he seemed to make out to have), should have known how bad both McFadden and Jones injuries were and looked at getting another healthy body in the back field to help Bush, and should have seen with what how much better the OL performed when Satele wasn't in the lineup!
These decisions are all on Jackson. While I agree that a move needed to be made at QB when Campbell went down, getting ripped off by the Bengals for what was given up for Palmer was not the answer. He made this decision because he thought that was what was needed to make the playoffs and it didn't turn out so he needs to face the consequences for that.
Pretty stoked about this. Curious as to if Hue Jackson will last to long though. Especially when you consider that the people like Packers OC Joe Philbin are being considered for HC jobs elsewhere.
I hope he can lure Matt Flynn here...
Great move for the organization imho. Hue obviously had too much on his plate at the end of the year - that had to contribute to at least one or two of the losses, especially when you consider Carson's unfamiliarity with the offense. Give McKenzie control, put Hue back in his place (let the air out of that big head of his) and get back to the business of playing football. I'm glad we did this quick and painlessly. Now let Reggie find a proper DC, a couple DBs, get everyone healthy, give Carson a proper training camp... there's no reason this team can't be competing for the AFC title next season. Al Davis put together one last winner - it would be a shame to waste it.
I see somebody mentioned Nick Saban below. First off - forget it. He's strictly a college guy - he likes being worshipped like a college coach - not questioned by the media like an NFL coach. He had a sweet HC job in the NFL with Miami and dumped it to go back to college where there is less pressure. He wasn't a good NFL coach anyway - made some terrible draft picks and basically took a decent team and underperformed on the field. He lied about leaving right up to the moment he left and - on top of that - the guy is a total dick. One story had him walking into the Fins facility and a secretary said "Nice haircut" to him. Later in the day he sent out a memo that said no one should speak to him unless he speaks to them first. Another time a player was laying injured on the practice field and Saban stepped over him on the way to the locker room without even stopping to see what was up with the guy's injury. The whole time he preached "honor" and "integrity" and pretended like he was some kind of noble man and then he basically turned tail and ran once the heat got turned up a little, leaving the team in worse shape than when he was hired. The Raiders do not need people like that in the organization.
My choice for DC would be Winston Moss - another Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiduh!
Excellent hire by the Raiders. I think that Reggie and Hue will work great together, and his hiring will allow Jackson to focus more on coaching. Hue had way to much on his plate this year, and I think it affected some of his coaching decisions later in the season. What I like most about McKenzie is his ability to evaluate collegiate talent. The Green Bay Packers have had tremendous success in the draft, and who that team is today, is in large part a direct result of excellent drafting, and Reggie has been a big part of that. With Al Davis no longer imposing his will on Player personnel, I forsee a huge resurgance in the success of free agency and the draft for the Raiders, and it will be only a matter of time before the Raiders are back on track and dominating the AFC West once again...
@Spartacus I wonder if Mark and Amy are going to let Reggie loose with the checkbook like Al used to be.
The Raider approach to FA has always been pretty big budget. That could change and the impact ....hmmm.
I think for an impact player like a Megatron or Vincent Jackson, the checkbook will definitely open up big time... The Raider receivers are good, but are one more solid weapon away from being the most dominant force in the league. With a great QB like Carson Palmer, the more offensive weapons the Raiders pick up and add to his arsenol, the better the chance the Raiders have of making a deep run in the playoffs. McKenzie is the type of guy who will push for a dominant offense, like the one he had in Green Bay, and my gut feeling is that Amy Trask and Mark Davis will be on the same page and let him make some moves...
If the Raiders somehow landed Megatron, it would be among the biggest free agent acquisitions in Raider history. Nilbymouth is right when he says that Detroit will probably franchise him, but if that ever did happen, and the Raiders pulled a rabbit out of their hat and signed him, HOLY TOLEDO.......Imagine a Carson Palmer to Calvin Johnson connection. The offensive numbers would be so high it would be absolutely rediculous, and Palmer would throw for over 4500 yards in a season, easy...I also think a Vincent Jackson signing would be almost as good, and realistically, that scenario could very well happen. My brother in law is a Charger season ticket holder, and he recently told me that in a recent radio interview, Jackson said he is really high on the Raiders, and could see himself playing for the Silver and Black next year if San Diego doesn't come up with a big contract. Don't think for a minute that McKenzie doesn't already know this... Just having the Raiders sign Jackson would make my day, not only because he is so damn talented, but because it would burn San diego...And god do I hate the Chargers!!!!
@Spartacus Thinking about a WR corps consisting of Megatron, Hey-Bey, Moore, Foord, Schilens and Murphy with Palmer at helm and an entire off season to work with is crazy - don't think it will happen, but if it did i would be extremely excited! 4 WR sets with Megatron, Hey-Bey, Moore and Ford would give every DC fits!!
I think the book is open though, as they know Reggie is a good judge of talent! ... A great GM don't need a big budget, but give great GM a big budget and you can expect fireworks!
@Spartacus Well said!
hue might be in some trouble. this announcement bought him down to earth. he was riding the high horse there for a while (and maybe us into the ground). how come everytime raider news hits the air, John Herrera comes out and says its not true, like the story about our coordinators getting fired. nonetheless, mckenzie may want to bring his type of coaches in, heck he may can hue and have a big hire in mind (cowher?) never know, but this is the 2nd best news since our pitiful loss last week. the 1st was the report bresnahan was fired! GO RAIDERS!!!!!
Just read some speculation that Hue may be on his way out because he wanted more power in the organization. They made it pretty clear that it was just some people's opinions of the situation, though I could see it being plausible. I like Hue and think he has done a tremendous job with the offense but I'll take McKenzie over 10 Hue's anyday. I hope this doesn't come to bear. I don't think it will cast him in a good light to other organizations either. Any thoughts on the matter Levi?
@DylanAlexander we lost the games we should have won because of defense... Hue didn't hire chucky B, and had nothing to do with that side of the ball... he's an offensive minded guy, and offense was definitely NOT the problem, as what was shown in the last game and in the DET game.
Hue will get another year. there's no reason for it... and there's no one out there better for the job in the next season. it's clear as day what was wrong with this team, and they're going to be aloud to walk out the door without new contracts starting Jan. 15th ...
Hue made some HORRIBLE mistakes down the line... but it's very likely that he will learn from his transgressions ... simply because he isn't spread too thin like he was ... McKenzie needs to make Saunders the OC as well... so Hue just has to HC ... that's all we need for him to do, and the man will be fine.
Yes the offense played well, but Palmer also surrended a lot of turnovers and were often not able to convert prime field position from our Defense created turnovers. Also the Offense struggled to score TDs in the redzone ranking middle of the pack (16th) in TD scoring %. Even worst in the last 3 games the team was a terrible 28.57% with only the Chiefs worst!
I heard similar rumors. But you know, Hue didn't even have time to talk to Carson Palmer during the week because he was caryring such a heavy load for this team. Something about this situtaiton needs to change. If he can't see that, then that's his problem. He needs to focus on just coaching.
You know you have an addiction when you spend hours on the Internet searching for any article on your teams GM search. I finally got to sleep last night after I read that we hire McKenzie. I have to admit that until I read McKenzie's tweet that he took the job that something would happen and he wouldn't be coming to Oakland. I hope he brings Elliot ( thanks Chris for reminding me his name ) with him. I'll see you guys at the next ' Raiders Anonymous ' meeting. Excellent move by Mark and Amy. With Reggie being from a 3-4 his whole career and Hue's veiled comments about the scheme, I think we will finally make the switch. Just my personal suspicion but don't be surprised if Winston Moss is our next D-coordinator. If it happens remember 'you heard it here first', if not let's just forget I said anything.
@DylanAlexander I think I reminded you of Eliot Wolf. At least, I mentioned Eliot Wolf in a reply to you in the WR article.
@DylanAlexander lol. I had mentioned Moss for DC a while back. :p
@JarrodRollins@DylanAlexander we don't know what we have with Winton Moss ... AT ALL! besides, i don't like GB's defense this year anyway... JACK DEL RIO however keeps that Jags D in contention with the best of them! like Wade Phillips and Mike Nolan... Jack belongs back in his home area being our DC for the foreseeable future!
@DARKKUSH@JarrodRollins@DylanAlexander GB has some very good LBers in Clay Mathews and Desmond Bishop. Now, who is their coach? Oh, Winston Moss. I think Moss would make a great DC. But I just really want Oakland to make the switch to 3-4 and sign guys that will help Oakland make a smooth transition to it, like a NT and another ILB.
@JarrodRollins Hey now- don't try to take credit for my amazing idea just because you had it first. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to invent the Internet.
Moss could be a great hire and a very good fit! ... Just remember that he is a 3-4 specialist and will certainly implement that system if possible!
Jososi's mentioning of Del Rio wouldn't be bad either! I would be extatic with whomever one of those!
Thank you Mark Davis and Amy Trask. You have now made the most significant tribute to Al. It is without question the most positive move made on behalf of the Raiders organization in more than a decade. Mark you and Amy have just become a legacy. Congratulations!
Thank you Mark Davis and Amy Trask. You have now made the most significant tribute to Al. It is withou question the most ppsitive move made on behalf of the Raiders organization in more than a decade. Mark you and Amy have just become a legacy. Congratulations!
Now all I need to here is that Del Rio has been hired as DC and that bitter taste from laste Sunday will be gone!!!!
We were pretty damn close to taking the AFC West this year. It won't take too much to secure it next year. I think the offense is in place, except say for a couple of changes on the line. We just need a strong DC and a few addtions on the defensive side of the ball and we are ready to roll.
Great news! Gonna be interesting to see how this will all unfold!
Most interesting is the D side as it is none existing after the depletion of the coaching staff - will be interesting to see what direction we go, but Big Al never wanted to get and pay big bucks for a well known DC, perhaps this is where it ends and we could see a legit DC for a change? Wouldn't that be something!! Jack Del Rio would definately be a welcomed addition!
But also, Wolf Sr. said in the interview on the radio that the GM naturally was above a HC! ... so Jackson will have to listen to what McKenzie has to say as well - perhaps the usage of an offensive coordinator could be in play to help out (Saunders?)?
Oakland could well do what the Texans have done, if they make the correct Defensive appointment.
Houston went from endless 8 win, medicore seasons, to the playoffs, with a top defensive coordinator
Great, great move for the organization. After Al's passing, the team needs a strong, experienced, executive in charge of personnel. And McKenzie is about as good as it could have been. I'm surprised he took the role.
Now, GM McKenzie, and the executive staff need to hire a strong, grade A defensive coordinator - if they can do that, Oakland could win 10+ games next year
To say i am a little excited about this move would be an total understatement... I am looking forward to the new direction we could end up taking on the defensive side of the ball... I love we have kept Mike Waufle, but with the fact the LB, secondary and CBs will all get new coaches the change could be dramatic. I would expect us to maybe move away from completely relying on M2M to a more flexible style of defence.
Another fantastic thing will be the change in scouting... We have never had a huge scouting team as Al knew what he liked. The knowledge that RM could bring with a new scouting team will be so the most important thing. With only half a dozen picks and nearly all in the later rounds we are going to need to be extremely canny in the draft this year. I have much more confidence that we will draft sensibly.
This will also of course, mean, that Hue can now concentrate on what he is best at - coaching, looking after QB's and getting the best out of young WR's! The offence with a completely bedded in CP, a healthy Dmac, Ford & Moore plus the completely new DHB and our fantastic and young offensive line and most surprising aspect of 2011 (minus Barnes!!!) is going explode next year! I am saying it here now! AFC West is ours! (I hope)
Future is bright... the future is silver and black!
@ukraider78 I feel the same way! What a positive note to end the season on!
... But with regards to the draft, Big Al always knew how to pick them in the later rounds, we have found more late rd gems than almost any other team! But it will be good to see some sensible 1st rd picks though! And perhaps we will even be able to manipulate the draft by moving down the board sometimes! McKenzie is a perfect fit for us!
I completely agree that Al was excellent at finding diamonds later on in the drafts. But, in later years due to his health and age it was impossibe for him to give as much as he could. He did well finding Moore and Ford but we want more than one great pick a year. With McKenzie and his scouting staff I suspect the quality throughout the draft to be very high.
What are your thoughts on who Reggie is going to hire as DC. My preference Spagunolo looks like he will probably go to the Eagles but maybe, we have hired McKenzie in time for him to condsider other options.
@LeviDamien It might be interesting if you could put a list together before any decision is made on the DC of the guys out there who you would like to be considered for the job. I know Del Rio is a personal fave of yours...
@ukraider78 I understand what you're saying - and without a NT a change would not work! Soliai would probably need to be pursued and heavily paid, but if that was to happen, I see Wimbley, Curry, Death Ro (Groves, Scott, Goethel) all best fitting the 3-4 system where their pass deficiences would not be as apparent as has been the case this season!
Ron Brace would also be a cheap possibility from the Patriots, especially after their 4-3 change!
But personally i wouldn't mind the 4-3, we just need a great DC who can make sure that we're not that predictible and that we don't have wrong personnel on top players!
To me the biggest issue with the 4-3 is that we need the front 4 to dominate, and we need our LBs to speed up their play which is difficult to ask! .. It seems that Chucky always put the LBs aggressively up in their gap on the LOC, and then when one made a mistake, missed a tackle or the O play worked and the RB breached the LOC, we were sold as the LBs were all left behind, our CBs had their back to the play, Giordano couldn't tackle or take proper angles, and Branch needed to try and catch up from where he was positioned - A new DC that can scheme better will naturally avoid this, and therefore i am not against a 4-3 quality DC at all! Just personally like the 3-4 more, and think it fits who we currently have the best (but as you say, mood point without a legit NT)!
@nilbymouth@Harder2000@levidamien Its not that I prefer a 4-3 system, I just don't think we have the players to make such a dramatic switch straight away. Main reason being, we don't have a NT and with a lack off early round picks it is unlikely we are going to be able to draft a decent one to fit straight in so that being I would like to see the best 4-3 DC possible be appointed by McKenzie which to me is Spagunolo. With that being said we also need to hire the best LB coach going! We need McClain & Curry to both step up their games. Wimbley I am not so fussed. He is a great player.. just needs to two players next to him to play better so he can concentrate on his job...
@ukraider78 Oh, only mentioned Moss in the 3-4 ...
My other 3-4 DC candidate would be Nick Saban, as he has proven that he knows Defense and he is a character who is loved and respected by his players! Think he would make for a good, talented DC as well!
@ukraider78 That is true, and i am certain that you're right that McKenzie will be a very good GM for us, especially in the scouting department! I am personally extremely pleased with this signing, and i believe it was a very good choice Mr. Davis Jr. made! Good thing that Big Al was able to leave the Franchise and his son with knowledgable advisors! Thank you Big Al!
Regarding the Defensive Coordinator, i think it will depend on Reggie's beliefs in a system - If he wanna go with the 4-3 system we already have, then Spagunolo or Jack Del Rio would make for great candidates imo, as they are both extremely talented and knows how to make a defense perform! I would think that the Eagles will land one of them, but at least one will be free for us to pursue!
... On the other hand, if he thinks that the 3-4 is the way to go, and i think this a real opportunity, i would prefer (and think that he would too) Winston Moss, as he knows him and he has been described as a very talented, knowledgable and great defensive mind!
I just really hope that we go out and get a legit DC, as we no longer have Big Al sitting in the back telling him what to do! And i believe that either one of those three would be a really great selection!
As for the defensive scheme itself, i think i would prefer the 3-4 scheme with a heavy man emphasis, as it would allow for a very aggressive and attacking style of defense! Besides, it definately fits the personel we have the best imo! And i think it would help us shore up the run D as it plays to the strengths on the team more than a 4-3.
I like the 4-3 as well if it is done correctly, and had Shaughnessey not gone down with an injury, the line which was supposed to be a top notch line, might have looked better! But it is too easy to predict and it allows the OC to exploit single player weaknesses in the LB corps more easily, which has no doubt cost us! I believe a more nuanced 3-4 would benefit us, and would allow for players like Death Ro, Curry, Groves, Wimbley and Scott to really fit in!
Choosing Spagunolo as your favourite i assume you prefer the 4-3? I too believe that he could gather the D to become a strong one, but aside from that, any preferences?