Eternal optimism, now that right there has got to be the hallmark of a Raiders fan. This last decade has not been kind to the loyal fans who support the Oakland Raiders and yet season after season, these fans flock to O.co Coliseum in droves to support their team, with tickets almost always selling out.
The Raiders will spend another season watching the playoffs from the periphery and Raider Nation is deeply entrenched in wild speculations about what their team will be doing in the months to come. General manager Reggie McKenzie took the time to sit down with local media this week and allowed them to pick his brain about the impending changes that will take place.
The first topic addressed was the fact that the 2013 Raiders finished with the same record as the 2012 Raiders. Despite the same record, McKenzie feels that teams differ greatly. He talked about how competitive the team was this year, but that that competitive edge seemed to falter in the second half of the season, something all fans can attest to. The second half of the season saw a team that was worn down and injured, but McKenzie still feels that the 2013 team was better overall.
McKenzie goes on to talk about how the Raiders don’t have just one specific need to address in the offseason but rather multiple. It seems as though he plans to hit the ground running this off season and really get aggressive with the team’s reconstruction.
He said, “We’re going to attack it however way. I don’t care if it’s off of a waiver wire, if somebody gets cut. If it’s an unrestricted guy, trade, draft, we’re going to do whatever we can to upgrade this team and we will. It’s a two-way street in some of those instances, but we’re going to upgrade this team personnel-wise.” He did talk briefly about wanting to bring back veterans such as Charles Woodson and Rashad Jennings and also players such as Latavius Murray who will be returning from injured reserve.
When asked to assess head coach Dennis Allen who will be returning for his third season at the helm, McKenzie talked about how they need to work together to figure out how to win games. He talked of wanting the team to be able to take a negative play and turn it into a positive play. Regardless of how it needs to happen, the Raiders need to be able to win those close games.
I’m sure that most fans will agree with McKenzie when he talked about the three or four games that very easily could have gone the other way. From a big picture standpoint, the Raiders need to figure out how to turn those close games into wins and McKenzie pointed out that it doesn’t just come down to the X’s and O’s, but that comfort level with the players needs to be taken into account as well. Players need to be put in the right spot and the right rotation needs to occur as well before things all fall into place.
Continuity has been a big issue in recent years for the Raiders and McKenzie talked about how having continuity would definitely help, but great players and really good players would help the team more and in turn add to that continuity. He addressed the fact that on defense, the Raiders had ten new guys this past season and how he didn’t feel that would be the case for 2014 as he hoped that a few of the players would return. But he felt that there will still be changes especially if not all of the players return.
He went on to speak to what he felt the team’s strength was and he spoke of the players the Raiders have as they are young and up and coming with the potential to move in as possible starters. A lead receiver isn’t on the Raiders’ roster as of yet and McKenzie spoke of wanting to add receivers. There is depth in some areas, but the team needs to look at getting top players into those positions as well as bringing in a pass rusher on defense.
The takeaway here is that McKenzie feels that sense of urgency and says, “it’s a heightened sense of let’s get this thing going. It’s more decisions, more impactful decisions to be made and the draft will help in that also. So, this is the fun part, even though it’s a good sense of urgency. To me, it’s a positive situation.”
McKenzie and the Raiders organization are excited about the continuity being brought back and are looking forward to winning a lot more games this year. Raider Nation can rest easy seeing that their team’s GM is just as optimistic and excited as they are about the coming year and all the possibilities that lie ahead.