There wasn’t a lot said in the press release announcing the firing of Reggie McKenzie, but the last line of it may have been rather telling.
“The Raiders will immediately begin a search for a new front office executive and will have no further comment until that process is complete,” it read.
McKenzie was the team’s General Manager. And yet his dismissal isn’t accompanied with a clear indication there will be a person incoming who will hold that title.
It’s hard to pin down how much of a say Gruden has in these matters. He simultaneously has a air of ‘i’m just the head coach’ about him, while also sounding like he will very much be part of the decision making process.
“I just got finished coaching a game. I know Mark is going to accumulate a list of names and candidates and I’m sure we’ll discuss those people later this week, but right now I don’t have any idea.”
If the guy they bring in doesn’t carry the title of General Manager, you’d have to assume Gruden will carry much of the GM personnel responsibilities. Though he claims he would like the person who they either promote or bring in to be a lot like the man they just fired.
“Similar qualities (to McKenzie); a guy that works hard, that loves football, that loves this organization, that will scratch and claw and fight with the rest of us,” Gruden said of what he’d like to see in a new front office exec. “I think it all starts here, obviously expertise and personnel, great leadership skills, a number of things go into this job. This is a tough position in this league.”
Two in-house names that have come up in this process have been Dave Razzano, who was brought on this offseason with the title of Director of Football Research. Reports have suggested he has been Gruden’s ‘righthand man’. The other is Shaun Herock, who Gruden said is essentially the interim personnel man until they can find a permanent
“I think Shaun Herock will be a big part of this,” Gruden said. “He’s a very talented personnel man, he has a lot of Raider history, we’re going to lean on him. He’s our College Scouting Director. We’ve got good scouts and we got a lot of picks in this draft, so his leadership will be important and I expect him to be a big part of the organization moving forward, honestly.”
You’d have to think Gruden has a short list of potential candidates, but it wouldn’t make any sense to reveal any names.
The duties begin immediately. Every week there has been players signed, often to replace injured players. Then immediately after the season in complete, here in about three weeks, there will be the job of signing reserve/future players, and looking at who they would like to re-sign among their upcoming free agents as well as who to cut before key dates in their contract.
Perhaps more important will be draft prep. With three first round picks, there will be a lot of work to be done to try and ensure they hit on those selections. Gruden says, again, that he doesn’t make those calls, but is merely given input into the decision, adding “I’d like to be involved for obvious reasons.”
That would certainly be the case if he were taking on head coach and GM duties. Even unofficially.