The Raiders' long overdue managerial overhaul is finally underway. And yes, it's a necessarily messy process. New general manager Reggie McKenzie's first action was to dismiss head coach Hue Jackson on Tuesday. Widespread changes in Oakland's personnel department and in the rest of the coaching staff are sure to follow.
Though sorely needed, a total makeover would never have occurred as long as Al Davis owned the team. Or perhaps you forgot the billboard erected along Interstate 880 by a group of fans more than two years ago, in the midst of what would be the team's seventh straight season of at least 11 losses:
MR DAVIS, DO THE RIGHT THING
PLEASE HIRE A GM
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The Raiders had been operating without a true GM since Bruce Allen left after the 2003 season, with Davis continuing to make all personnel decisions until he died at 82. But three months after taking over as his father's successor, Mark Davis took a huge step toward modernizing the organization by hiring McKenzie to run the football operations last week.
"The one thing I know is what I don't know. The one thing I did know was I needed to bring the right people in here," said Mark Davis, who was advised in the GM search by former Raiders executives Ron Wolf, John Madden and Ken Herock.
With 18 years of experience in Green Bay's front office, McKenzie brings a reputation as a great talent evaluator. He'll be tasked with revamping Oakland's personnel and scouting departments, the backbone of any successful organization and an area that had been grossly undervalued by Al Davis.
And of course McKenzie will soon be hiring his own head coach and overseeing the search for a new defensive coordinator, among other assistant coaching positions.
Jackson felt he deserved to stay on after guiding the Raiders through the post-Al turbulence and to an 8-8 record that had them in playoff contention until Week 17. But McKenzie quickly concluded that a new voice was needed, especially after Oakland set NFL records for penalties and penalty yards while also finishing 29th in total defense and scoring defense in Jackson's lone season at the helm.
Though searching for their seventh coach in the last 10 years might suggest the Raiders are as dysfunctional as always, McKenzie can now assemble a staff and shape the organization's philosophy exactly as he sees fit.
Oakland's nine-year playoff drought, tied for second longest in the NFL, screamed out the need for a housecleaning. At long last, ownership has made the commitment to change.