View Mobile Site

McKenzie’s return to Raiders comes with winning experience

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED January 11, 2012 8:00 p.m.

ALAMEDA — Reggie McKenzie began his playing career as a linebacker with the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1980s.

He returns to the franchise as general manager after having been schooled for nearly two decades in the ways of the Green Bay Packers. It's that model that he will try to replicate in Oakland as he aims to restore the Raiders to a level they haven't reached during a nine-year playoff drought.

McKenzie signed his contract with the Raiders on Tuesday and immediately fired coach Hue Jackson. His next task will be to bring in a new coach that he hopes he can work with in a fashion similar to the relationships between Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren and Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy that led to Super Bowl titles in Green Bay.

"I only know one way," McKenzie said at his introductory news conference. "I've been working at it for the last 18 years and it started with Ron Wolf, what he implemented in Green Bay. I saw how it works. That's the only way I saw and that's the only way I know."

McKenzie said he already has a short list of potential coaching candidates and would like to fill the position as soon as possible.

But with some current Packers assistants such as linebackers coach Winston Moss, secondary coach Darren Perry and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, possibly on that list, McKenzie may need to wait until Green Bay's season ends to make a move.

Under late owner Al Davis, the Raiders had hired exclusively offensive coaches to run the team, starting with Tom Flores in 1979. Davis himself was always deeply involved with the defense, with some considering him the de facto defensive coordinator.

Those past criteria are no longer an issue with McKenzie put solely in charge of this hire by Davis' son, Mark, the team's new managing general partner.

"We just want a winner, a guy we feel can lead this team and move it forward as we embark here on this new era," McKenzie said. "The next coach will be a coach that we all feel will lead us to our ultimate goal, and that is winning championships. Offense or defensive coordinator types really will play no influence. The No. 1 thing is he can lead, motivate and move our players and our team to victories."

The new coach will be the seventh in 10 seasons in Oakland as Davis had been unable to find the right man for the job ever since Jon Gruden left for Tampa Bay following the 2001 season. Bill Callahan took the team Gruden built to the Super Bowl the following season but was fired after going 4-12 in 2004.

Norv Turner had two years at the job, followed by a year for Art Shell, one-plus season for Lane Kiffin, two-plus seasons for Tom Cable and this past year under Jackson. Jackson's 8-8 record made him the only coach in that span to leave the job without a losing mark, but he also was unable to get the Raiders to the playoffs.

The Packers had only four coaches during McKenzie's entire tenure in Green Bay, a level of stability he hopes to bring to Oakland.

"Consistency played a big part, but Mark Davis has told me that he wants long-term success, and we're going to start it right now," he said "To begin, we're going to have to build. That's where our mindset is."

Along with finding the head coach, McKenzie needs to bulk up a thin personnel department and scout his own roster to determine which players to keep and what holes need to be filled.

He praised quarterback Carson Palmer, who figures to remain the starter after Oakland gave up a 2012 first-round draft pick and conditional 2013 second-rounder to acquire him from Cincinnati in October. Palmer is owed $12.5 million in 2012 with $5 million guaranteed.

That trade left the Raiders with picks only in the fifth and sixth rounds in next year's draft, although they are expected to get compensatory picks for losing free agents like Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller, Robert Gallery and Thomas Howard.

McKenzie said he would like to have more picks but understood why the trade was made. He said there are many other ways to acquire talent, specifically pointing to undrafted free agents, the waiver wire, and lower-level free agents, as opposed to big ticket signings.

There could also be trade possibilities as some key players may not fit in as well if the team changes schemes under a new coach.

"There will be no quick decisions at all because the last thing I would want is to let go of someone and he turns out to be a Pro Bowl type player," McKenzie said. "Mistakes will happen. They happen because of haste and I don't want to act in haste. So we'll evaluate all our personnel and when the time comes, when it's time to make a move, if we have to, we will."

While McKenzie was raised as an executive in the Packers organization, his mentor was a former Raiders executive who helped Al Davis build Super Bowl champions in Oakland. Wolf recommended McKenzie for the job and Mark Davis interviewed no other candidates.

McKenzie still considers himself a Raider from his four years playing with the team after being a 10th-round draft pick out of Tennessee in 1985.

Several of his former teammates came to his news conference and cheered him on, glad to have one of their own back running the show in Oakland.

"I'm happy about it," said former linebacker Rod Martin. "He's talked about the old school and he's from the old school so he understands how the game is supposed to be played. I think he's going to be going out there aggressively, getting the right personnel to come in here and make this turn around."

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...