One day Reggie McKenzie will walk into a room filled with football coaches, owners and general managers and he’ll be met with applause. Now that ovation won’t necessarily stem from his team’s accomplishments on the field even though that is the ultimate goal. Instead McKenzie will have earned the respect of the football community for taking on the impossible task that is filling the shoes of Al Davis.
First and foremost let me be clear that Mr. Davis was one of those rare larger than life individuals whose shoes will never truly be filled. More to the point McKenzie is just trying to lave his own footprints in the sand. It just so happens he’s walking a trail blazed by the great Al Davis.
Al Davis was the absolute last of his kind…well he was the only of his kind that ever will be. We could fill up entire libraries with all of the various duties Davis performed for the Oakland Raiders but instead let’s just say he was the alpha and omega of all things Silver and Black.
So for all intents and purposes when McKenzie took over he might as well have inherited an expansion franchise because he had to build everything from the ground up. From getting new equipment for the scouting department to hiring an entirely new coaching staff every inch of the franchise needed a onceover from the new sheriff in town. Not because Davis was running a sloppy ship. More so because McKenzie couldn’t be in 1,000 places at once like Davis so he needed a system in place to help manage all of duties once maintained by AD.
Thus the need to build the new Raiders came with the job duties of the new general manager.
Notice I’m being ever so careful to avoid using the term “rebuild”. None dare call this coming season a “rebuilding” year. Not when you’ve got a talented offense that features an MVP candidate in Darren McFadden and a QB making franchise type money in Carson Palmer. Not when you’re playing in the AFC West where 9 wins can earn your fans a home game for the playoffs.
No! Rebuilding is a foul word unfit for the ears of Raider Nation.
Even McKenzie himself is shy about going anywhere near that term but he knows this is all part of a process. McKenzie didn’t start from scratch just so he wouldn’t be bored this offseason. This franchise needed a fresh start. While you won’t hear the word “rebuild” tossed around do expect more of what was heard from McKenzie today when he spoke to the media.
“It’s still year one. To me, changes are going to continue to be made through this time next year because you can’t build Rome overnight, so certain things will stay status quo until we can jump on it during the offseason.”
In other words the current Raiders are a what-you-see-is-what-you get kind of team. No matter the expectations or the exact state of the “building” process this franchise is in a transitional phase. That doesn’t mean McKenzie isn’t trying to field a competitive team or that losing will be tolerated while the process unfolds. It just means everyone is learning on the job and whatever results come of that will just be what they are for the time being.
Until McKenzie can get the cap situation sorted. Until the coaching staff has a firm grasp of the talent currently on the roster. Until the players themselves are up to speed with the new program, this season is just going to be what it is – year one of the McKenzie’s “building” process.