The moment Jon Gruden signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to be the Raiders head coach, you knew who was running the show in Oakland. Reggie McKenzie knew he would have to try and roll with the punches if he stayed on as General Manager. And at every turn, he said the right things with regard to he and Gruden working together on personnel decisions. Even while the reports piled up that seemed to confirm initial assumptions that this marriage was not quite as smooth as he let on.
As to the potential disconnect, Gruden denied it in his press conference following McKenzie’s firing. Sort of.
“I’m not going to sit up here and talk about any disconnect,” said Gruden. “We were connected. We were very good friends and very connected.”
Despite Gruden’s adamant claims of a strong connection between he and McKenzie, as of Gruden’s press conference Monday afternoon, he said the two haven’t spoken since McKenzie’s firing.
Then there were the reports that there was a divide in the front office, centered around Gruden having his own sets of scouts who answered directly to him outside of the actual scouting department which answered to McKenzie. Supposedly Dave Razzano, a former scout who was brought in with the title of “Head of Football Research”, was Gruden’s “righthand man”. Monday Gruden seemed to downplay any such role by Razzano, describing him as simply a “Personnel Assistant.” Gruden did confirm he had scouts of his own, but that they do different things.
“I don’t know where these reports come from,” Gruden said. “I got a pretty good idea, honestly, but I have a couple guys that work for the coaches. We have different needs than the scouts. We’re not scouting players, we’re getting ready for an opponent. So, yes, we do have people working for the coaches, but it doesn’t intersect with scouting at all, it’s a completely different agenda.”
There could be some concern that with McKenzie out that the scouting department is uncertain of their future. Gruden said that he will be talking with them soon to see if he can alleviate any concerns.
It seems inevitable at this point there will be further changes coming, likely after the season is over. For now Gruden says College Scouting Director Shaun Herock will be handling personnel duties until a permanent replacement can be found.