The Oakland Raiders were a franchise without their leader and in total disarray. The head coach was making moves like the “greatest trade in football” and the financial situation was as bad as our government’s. Ok it wasn’t that bad, but things looked rough. In stepped Reggie Mckenzie with an axe and a lumberjack flannel. Raider Nation hungry to improve on an 8-8 season watched in awe as Hue Jackson’s bully was disassembled like a toy in Sid’s bedroom. (Toy Story is a classic!)
I’ll be the first person to confess that I wasn’t to pleased to watch Louis Murphy, Stanford Routt, or even Carson Palmer be shown the door. A four win season drives a fan a little crazy. Its like that horrible day when one decides to watch Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Well unlike Steven Spielburg and George Lucas, Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen have a chance to make things right. And after another wave of cuts, Mckenzie has finally started the building process.
The linebacking problem of Oakland was the first to be solved. A group of savvy veterans have been added in hopes to replicate what Phillip Wheeler managed to accomplish one season ago. Not to mention the progress of young Miles Burris who looks to have a very promising career in the silver and black.
McKenzie didn’t stop there as he re-signed Khalif Barnes (as is tradition) and picked up veteran offensive tackle Alex Baron. All the while under the radar signings on the defensive line such as nose tackle Johnny Jones and defensive tackle Vance Walker signified the opportunity Dennis Allen would have the ability to turn over to a 3-4 defense.
McKenzie’s squad still looked weak. With an aging quarterback and a severe problem in the defensive backfield questions were left to be answered. And for the first time in what seems like forever the Raiders found themselves in the mainstream of NFL action. The move for Matt Flynn has been seen as positive by most. McKenzie sees talent in the player that he watched develop behind the State Farm discount double check star, and the staff in Oakland seem very confident in his ability. Not only did McKenzie manage to find a possible franchise quarterback (emphasize possible), but the GM also sealed a deal with former Saint Tracy Porter. The veteran presence of Dennis Allen’s former pupil, in my opinion, will be a huge contributor to Oakland’s lacking secondary.
I think for Matt Flynn, a guy that’s had an opportunity now to be in the league for five years as a backup quarterback, to learn, to grow, to develop, I would say he’s not unlike some other guys that you’ve seen go through the same type of process,” – Dennis Allen comparing Matt Flynn to Matt Schaub.
Holes are still left on Oakland’s roster to fill. Another free agent corner such as former Dallas Cowboy, Micheal Jenkins, would be a prime addition to a once depleted secondary. With the draft on the horizon one is left to ponder the possibility of trading the third overall pick for a late first rounder and maybe a second to third round pick. Certainly a team like the Bengals or Bears would consider trading up for a big difference maker. Trading would give the Raiders the ability to seal a first round defensive lineman and still receive a potential star defensive back like Tyrann Mathieu who exploded in front of scouts.
Reggie McKenzie has a long way to go to bringing his team to the promise land. After starting his new regime with just four wins the man has endured his share of criticism (maybe even some from me) and perservered. Questions are still to be answered. Will Matt Flynn be the next Schaub or the next Palmer? Will the new cornerback tandem be the next Asomugha/routt or the next Spencer/Bartell? Without a doubt McKenzie is determined to pull this mess together into a masterpiece.