Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is working with his third head coach since 2012, moving from Dennis Allen to interim man Tony Sparano to Jack Del Rio. His current partner has the most influence on organizational decisions, especially regarding personnel. There’s no friction here, with GM and head coach in lockstep regarding Raiders roster construction.
More than a year into this pact with Jack Del Rio, this working relationship has gone well during a period of steady improvement. Del Rio’s first season was McKenzie’s fourth, and the pair say they quickly found common ground.
Former standout NFL linebackers Del Rio and McKenzie share philosophies regarding personnel, valuing character, football commitment, power and aggressiveness.
“The experience of having been in the league lends itself to seeing things similarly,” Del Rio said last week at the NFL owners meetings. “I think the biggest thing is our goal to surround yourself with people who love football and, when in doubt, draft somebody with size.”
The Raiders have a pivotal NFL draft coming up with impact players required at safety and possible additions at coverage linebacker, running back and cornerback.
The team has identified and prioritized needs, which are being worked out through a pivotal offseason. The Raiders, Del Rio says, are pulling in the same direction.
“Reggie and his staff have done a really good job identifying talent and helping us bring in talent,” Del Rio said. “Reggie’s a great guy to work with. We’ve had a unified approach from my first day getting in the building. We both like big, strong, tough guys and we’ve added a few of them over the past couple offseasons. We’ll continue to do that.”
The Raiders coaching staff has been in near constant upheaval since 2012, but a level of calm has pervaded this offseason. The staff returns completely intact, from coordinators to quality control assistants. That should help build upon what was done last season, allowing players to get comfortable with schemes and teaching styles.
“It’s huge. Continuity builds chemistry,” McKenzie said in February. “It helps so much to have players who know their coaches and the system well. That’s where the chemistry comes in, and having this group around will really help us. That’s one step we don’t have to deal with.”