Forget about waiting for this season to end. The preparation for next season begins right now. Yesterday word spread that the Raiders had come to terms with new general manager Reggie McKenzie. At the time it was assumed McKenzie would finish his duties with the Green Bay Packers before making the move to the East Bay.
Again proving the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Mark Davis moved quickly to hire McKenzie and he’s quick to put his new man to work too.
So much for waiting. McKenzie will be going to work for the silver and black the second the ink is dry on his contract.
There is plenty of work to be done. Raider Nation knows this. McKenzie is more than aware of that too. Here are 5 things the new GM must get done immediately.
5) Set The Tone – While Mark Davis might be exercising his father’s business practices, he’s not nearly as involved as Al Davis. Mark knows nobody knew the game like pops. That’s why he’s hired men like McKenzie to get into the trenches and lead the troops. This is now McKenzie’s show. He knows what being a Raider is all about so his first job will be to bring the Raider Way back to every part of the franchise. From the front office to the back of the locker room, every square foot of the Raider franchise must bear his mark.
4) Trim The Fat – As beloved as Al Davis remains his practice of keeping players on scholarship has held the franchise back in recent years. The time has come to stop fattening wallets and instead increasing hunger. This is the NFL, the most brutal of all sports. When a player feels as if their job is guaranteed no matter what they tend to relax. McKenzie needs to send a shocking message to make it loud and clear that a new sheriff is in town. Sending a few high-paid yet underperforming players back to the bread line or shipping them off for draft picks will help to accomplish the previously mentioned task of setting the tone. It will also improve the team through addition by subtraction.
3) Find, Acquire and Develop Talent – Injuries are a part of the game. Nobody makes it through a game, let alone an entire NFL season injury-free. In case you didn’t notice, during McKenzie’s time in Green Bay the Packers built a dominant team through the draft. Nothing, not even countless injuries could keep the Pack from bringing the Lombardi back to its rightful home last season. That is because every man on that roster was competent, capable and most important of all confident. Yes, most of that falls on the coaching staff but it starts with the tools at the coach’s disposal.
2) Strengthen The Coaching Staff – Hue Jackson has that coaching it. He is also rough around the edges. Hue’s swagger is infections but his attitude can border on cancerous. McKenzie needs to get experienced, no nonsense coaches to join Jackson’s staff. Even the head coach needs to be challenged every once and awhile. Just as players thrive on competition so too do coaches. One blade sharpens another. Jackson has proven to be a brilliant offensive mind. What he needs is a defensive coach that is his equal. Just think of all the good that will come when the defense plays with the same swagger of the offense.
1) Tear Down The Wall – No need to get Pink Floyd on the case. McKenzie need only make his motives transparent. I can fully appreciate the nature in which Al Davis went about his business. However this is a new era of football. General Managers are as visible as coaches these days. Now, I’m not saying McKenzie needs to be some Jerry Jones blowhard whoring himself for the camera. All I’m asking for is full disclosure when things go down. Openly discuss the reasoning behind certain decisions. Enough with John Herrera and his pointless statements. Get on the frontline and show how thick that skin is. In the end Raider Nation will feel a better sense of closeness with the franchise and players around the league will know first hand how the franchise is run. Without fail anyone that has ever been a part of the Raider organization is always asked what it was like as if being in Oakland is like visiting North Korea. Time to make this a modern team with a progressive approach. I’m not saying to abandon the old school ways all together. Oakland is an old school city so some things must remain. All I’m saying is show the world that there is nothing to hide except Sunday’s gameplan.