PROGRAMMINGALERT: Tune into Raiders Press Conference Live on CSN California at 2 p.m..
It's been a wild and rumor-filled week in the streets of Silver and Blackdom, what with the Raiders' season coming to an inglorious end one victory shy of the playoffs, a whole slew of defensive coaches on their way out the door, a new general manager in Reggie McKenzie on his way in and coach Hue Jackson purportedly blowing in the wind.So here's what we do know -- there will be a media conference on Tuesday at the Raiders' Alameda facility where McKenzie will be introduced. Other that that, a lot of speculation. Following then, 10 looming questions, plus a bonus, sure to come up at the presser
1) Will Hue Jackson be in attendance?All indications areyes. Why wouldn't he be? Unless, of course, the reports over the weekend that he could be in jeopardy have legs. Even if he's not formally invited, Jackson should be the dutiful coach and show up.2) If Jackson is there, where will he sit?Hopefully in the back of the room or off to the side. Jackson does not need to be up on the dais. This is McKenzie's day and Jackson sharing the stage would send a decidedly different message. Then again, Jackson has to play this very carefully. Any wrong move could be taken as a power play by the coach and former de facto G.M. on the new G.M. McKenzie.3) What about Mark Davis, will he be there?No word yet and he had no comment in a text message Monday evening, but talk about a guy reporters would love to lob a few questions at, especially since he has yet to make a public statement since he took over the team following the death of his father on Oct. 8. The younger Davis is an intriguing figure and might want to let this be McKenzie's day as well, though it will be interesting to see who introduces the new Raiders G.M.4) What about that whole power structure thing again?With the passing of Al Davis, Jackson essentially became the Raiders' football czar, answering to no one on football matters before getting things green-lighted by Mark Davis. So with McKenzie now in the house, who answers to whom, and who has the final say on personnel matters when it comes to signing and drafting players? What exactly, is McKenzie's job description and where are both men on the team's power flow chart, so to speak?5) Has Jackson lost some of his Hue-bris?Jackson took a lot of heat for the way he handled matters and the confidence with which he did. But really, what was he supposed to do? Fans loved it when the Raiders were 7-4; not so much when they lost four of their final five games. How deferential Jackson acts towards McKenzie will tell the tale.6) Wait, don't Jackson and McKenzie have the same agent, and couldn't that muddy the waters since each would potentially know how much money the other guy makes?Yes, and potentially. Especially if there is a power struggle atop the Raiders' food chain. Then again, they could be fast friends and quick partners in steering the ship to calmer waters. Kennard McGuire might have his hands full keeping these two clients happy.
7) So you're saying Jackson stays on?Well, in my opinion, he deserves to, yes. Because while Tom Cable changed the culture in the Raiders' locker room, Jackson took it to another level. And he is intrinsically linked to quarterback Carson Palmer, in whom the Raiders, ahem, Jackson, have invested so much. Get rid of Jackson and you have to scrap the entire offensive system, and that does not bode well for a 32-year old nine-year NFL veteran QB. Jackson probably has a shorter-than-normal leash, though.8) But wouldn't McKenzie want to start fresh, like with his own coach?Perhaps, but remember, the offense, under Jackson, is light years better than it was the previous three seasons at the very least. And continuity is ultra-important to this team that, minus a key injury here and there and a key defensive stop against Buffalo andor Detroit, would have won the AFC West and played host to Pittsburgh in a playoff game. A quick fixer-upper is what's needed at this juncture, not a total overhaul. Unless we're talking about the defense, of course.9) How much power will McKenzie really have?The last Raiders G.M before the late Al Davis was really Bruce Allen, who departed to join Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay in 2004. So these are fairly untested waters of late for the Raiders. The sense here is that McKenzie will have full final say over personnel matters. Otherwise, why would he want to leave the tranquility of Green Bay for a potential power struggle that would be between a first-year G.M. and a second-year coach? McKenzie, though, needs to rebuild (build?) the Raiders' personnel department.10) Will there be any overhead projectors involved, any coaches getting eviscerated?We can only hope. Because while any Al Davis presser became must-see-TV in his later years thanks to his use of AV equipment and his sharp wit, this gathering is supposed to be a celebration for the Raider Nation, a welcome-home gala for McKenzie, who played for the Raiders from 1985 through 1988, a coming-out party for Mark Davis and a relief, really, for Jackson. It might be a sad day for Hue Jackson the de facto G.M., but it should be a great day for Jackson the playcalling coach, who can now simply worry about what goes down on the field, rather than taking the entire organization on his shoulders. At least, that's how it should play out.BONUS) What questions would you, the fans, ask?