This offseason, not a lot of positive things have been written in the mass media about the immediate future of the Oakland Raiders. Most of the national writers feel that Oakland is due for a rough season and is a step below its rivals in the AFC West. However, GM Reggie McKenzie, the man responsible for constructing the current roster, was positive concerning his thoughts about the upcoming season. Here is what he had to say in a radio interview with Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game.
"I can promise this: We’re gonna put the best players out there, we’re gonna put the best effort, our coaches are gonna prepare our players to play at the highest level to win each and every game. We’re gonna be competitive without a doubt. Despite what the outsiders say. I don't want guys to think that we’re not gonna win this year, that we’re not gonna be any good, that we’re just gonna be waiting until the next couple years to turn this things around. We feel like we’re starting to turn this thing around this off-season and we’re moving in the direction that we’re gonna win some ball games this year. We’re definitely gonna be competitive and we’re definitely, hopefully… I won’t say we’ll surpass my expectations because my expectations are pretty strong. I feel good about this season and I can’t wait."
It's easy to see why the media at large doesn't believe in the Raiders. They have unknowns at quarterback, their major offensive weapons have extensive injury histories, they have no established #1 wide receiver, and their defense is almost entirely made up of new personnel who have not proven themselves in a Raider uniform. The defensive line has likely taken a step back from its dominance a few years ago and it remains to be seen if it can hold up against the rush in its current form. The defense has no established superstars other than 36-year old Charles Woodson. There is really no objective reason to think the Raiders will be good this year.
Reggie McKenzie, on the other hand, has faith in the guys he brought in. He sees how they will fit into the scheme run by the coaches. Reggie saw how bad things were a year ago, and he shares our view as fans that the roster is vastly improved as a whole, defensive line notwithstanding.
Gone are the players who didn't give it their all. Gone are the troublemakers, the knuckleheads, the thugs, the personal fouls waiting to happen. Gone are the overpaid and underperforming veterans, and anyone who got a scholarship contract from Mr. Davis Sr. The roster is now full of guys on short reasonable contracts who have every motivation and reason to perform at their peak level, with the goal of getting their share of the Raiders' free agent cap room bounty next off-season.
While the Raiders may have some tough times this season, it's basically a consensus that Reggie McKenzie is putting this team on the right track for the future. It's clear McKenzie isn't content to wait for the future for the Raiders to return to prominence. He fully expects the Raiders to be good right away, and for that standard of play to continue for years to come.