Reggie McKenzie was officially introduced as general manager of the Oakland Raiders today, with the expectation that he would assume many of the duties of the team’s late former owner, Al Davis.
He started with a move that would have made Davis proud: He fired Hue Jackson as the team’s coach after an 8-8 season. The firing was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and clearly came as a surprise to Jackson.
Soon after the news broke, Jacskon told CSN Bay Area reporter Henry Wofford he was at a loss for words and that McKenzie was “going to gut this place.”
Coach Hue Jackson said "He (Reggie McKenzie) wants to bring in his own guys. No job is safe right now."— Henry Wofford (@HenryWoffordCSN) January 10, 2012
McKenzie, who played linebacker for the Raiders from 1985-88, served as the Packers’ director of football operations from 1994 through the 2011 season. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, he and Jackson share the same agent.
The Raiders began the season 4-2 with quarterback Jason Campbell and running back Darren McFadden leading the way offensively, but injuries to both players midway through the season forced the Raiders to make a move.
Only 10 days after the death of their longtime owner, the Raiders dealt a pair of first-round picks to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer, revealing their desperation to grab hold of the wide-open AFC West this season. But Palmer was up and down, McFadden never returned from a nagging foot injury and with the division crown on the line, the Raiders failed to win their season finale at home against the Chargers. That gave the AFC West title to Tim Tebow and the Broncos, who beat Pittsburgh in overtime on Sunday.
That combination was enough to seal the outspoken Jackson’s fate — albeit one week after St. Louis fired Steve Spagnuolo and Tampa Bay dumped Raheem Morris.
Jackson struggled to connect with many of his players — particularly within the team’s talented, but young receiving corps. His starting receivers varied from week-to-week, making it difficult for Palmer to establish a connection with his targets.
More damaging was the lack of discipline that gave Oakland the dubious distinction of being the most-penalized team in the NFL for a second consecutive season.
Following the team’s season-ending loss to the Chargers, Jackson ripped his team for failing to make plays at critical moments, and those words continued to resonate until McKenzie’s introductory press conference.
“At some point in time as a group of men, you go in the game, and you can say whatever you want about coaches, you win the game,” Jackson said at the time. “Here’s your time. Here’s your time to make plays. We didn’t get them stopped. And we didn’t make enough plays, so yeah, I’m (angry) at the team. .... When you have those kinds of opportunities, you’ve got to do it, and we didn’t do it.”
The Raiders have now gone through nine different coaches since Art Shell’s first stint with the silver and black ended in 1994. During that span, only Jon Gruden lasted more than two full seasons.
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