Just because your pops tosses you the keys to his ride doesn’t mean you’re responsible enough to drive. Pat Bowlen learned that the hard way when he bought in on all the Josh McDaniels hype, ditto for Al Davis and the lies told by Lane Kiffin. Those two duds were ghostriding the whip in drive instead of neutral like the newbies they were.
Now when your dad asks you to look under the hood and get the ride up and running again that is a much different demand. Forget cruising, this is a task meant only for those that can be trusted. Sometimes dad makes the wrong decision, placing his ride in the hands of a moron that looks for YouTube videos on engine repair such as the hack job Matt Millen did in Detroit. In other instances the old man seeks out a steady hand with the knowledge necessary get that car off of blocks and back on the street.
In the case of Mark Davis trusting Reggie McKenzie to get the car out of the garage and back on the track you’d have to say it has thus far been the best decision made by the Raiders since they cut ties with #2.
The Raiders have yet to play a game in the McKenzie era but you can’t help but feel as if their prospects have already improved. Now, I’m not saying McKenzie will guarantee success. In fact his rebuilding job isn’t a full on engine overhaul. He’s inheriting a team that has missed the playoffs but by only a small margin for two years running.
McKenzie was hired to get under the hood to make fixes necessary to get this car at top performance again. Not to rebuild the entire block.
If you were to design a man in a lab for the job of running the Raiders then McKenzie would be the Frankenstein of the silver and black front office. A machinelike man brought to life by the challenge of improving an historic franchise while working with no budget and no draft picks.
McKenzie’s track record says it all.
He played linebacker for the Raiders so McKenzie knows all too well what it means to be a Raider. He made his bones as a scout by seeking out diamonds in the rough that aren’t obvious to the so-called draft experts. My man is perfect for handling Oakland’s 2012 draft which features only five picks of which the first choice isn’t until the 95th slot. For good measure McKenzie learned the front office ropes in Green Bay where champions are built on the field and not in the checkbook.
All in all there just isn’t another human being out there that could have stepped in as a first time general manager and hit the ground running like McKenzie has.
His first order of business was a real wakeup call. Canning Hue Jackson might have seemed rash but considering Jackson is now working with the special teams in Cincinnati that moves feels very justified. Of course Dennis Allen will have to just win, baby in order to really make that move as sensible as it seems.
Up next was the slicing and dicing of payroll. Al Davis didn’t run the Raiders into the ground with his spending but all those bulky contracts were certainly weighing down a franchise that needed to drop weight in order to get up to speed.
After that came the very frugal approach take in free agency. No need to devour an entire 8oz steak when smaller bites will fill you up just the same. The Raiders didn’t grab any headlines with their free agent acquisitions but they didn’t put themselves in position for another salary purge next year either.
Now the draft is on the horizon. This is where we’ll really see McKenzie shine. Like all men with great football minds, McKenzie enjoys the evaluating process. Any jerk can skim the internet for highlights and opinions of the top prospects. It takes great vision to find the guys that aren’t on magazine covers but are more than necessary to fill the pages inside with quality content. Al Davis had that trait so it seems only natural McKenzie would be so ideal for Mark Davis.
All that said we’re still not at a point where McKenzie is ready to hand the keys to Allen. He’s still got a little more tweaking to do before this car is ready to leave the shop. Nothing promises the Raiders will be the first across the line after the checkered flag is waved. But at least you know the car won’t breakdown before it gets back on the track. Having a realistic chance to compete is about all you can honestly ask. With McKenzie the Raiders will be in the race for years to come.