Reggie McKenzie didn’t want to say it when he first got the job. Mark Davis didn’t want to admit it when he hired McKenzie. Dennis Allen would never say it to his players.
The Oakland Raiders are officially rebuilding…again.
This might be new to McKenzie but it’s very, very, very old and tired news to Raider Nation. Patience is hard to come by when it’s been a decade of dismal football. A decade so bad that mediocrity was celebrated once this team posted consecutive 8-8 seasons.
Perhaps no position better exemplifies what this season has been quite like the cornerbacks that have come and gone from the roster like so many Slurpee-craving teenagers at the local 7-11.
As it stands only one corner currently on the roster was with the team in training camp. That would be a man that was castoff by the Raiders after being drafted by them one year previous only to return to the practice squad from which he’s since been promoted. I’m speaking of Chimdi Chekwa.
Chekwa’s odyssey is an exercise in McKenzie’s practice of turning an NFL season into an open audition.
The first major move made by McKenzie after scrapping the entire coaching staff was to rid the franchise of Stanford Routt. Nobody ever felt comfortable with the notion of Routt replacing Nnamdi Asomugha. That was yet another desperate and bullheaded move made by Al Davis. In addition Davis thought he could simply find another corner or two in the draft to fill the void. McKenzie didn’t see it that way and rightfully so, Routt’s contract was ridiculously bloated relative to his play.
Once camp concluded McKenzie had released both of Oakland’s young corners before their second season officially began. Both Chekwa and DeMarcus Van Dyke were sent packing. Veterans Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer were brought in on one year-deals pretty much meaning they were going to be Band-Aids.
Well, it took all of two weeks for both Band-Aids to break. Injuries and ineffective play have ultimately led the Raiders right back where they started. Spencer is lost for the season due to a foot injury while Bartell was given his walking papers thus resurrecting Chekwa from the land of the dead.
Meanwhile Michael Huff was forced into action at corner. Ironically it was the previous coaching staff that had designs on making Huff a corner anyway. So no matter what this was going to be the destiny of Huff.
And no matter what this 3-10 debacle was going to be the destiny of the 2012 Oakland Raiders. All of the cornerback shuffling including countless practice squad players being forced into starting roles, castoff vets coming and going plus Huff swapping positions has left the Raiders right where they started.
That pretty much sums up what McKenzie’s first season has been all about. He’s spent an entire NFL offseason and regular season just trying to figure out what sticks. No improvement has been seen on the field, only regression. And after it’s all said and done the very players he deemed unworthy of being Raiders are once again being asked to help the Raiders as evident by Chekwa’s return.
McKenzie was in a tight spot. No doubt about that. But his desire to build his own franchise has created a level of uncertainty not ever seen even in the dysfunction that has been Oakland for the last 10 years. Absolutely no man in the locker room has felt confident in their job security all year long. Ideals and philosophies that gained proven results a year ago were scrapped.
Whatever comes next had better look a lot more like an NFL outfit instead of an arena league team. Patience isn’t a luxury in the pro game. Mark Davis might be more like his father than realized and if so we could be going through this entire process all over again only to end up right were we started just like Chimdi Chekwa.