ALAMEDA – Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie wasn’t happy with how 2013 turned out, but he believes it was “a different 4-12” than the year before.
The Raiders showed signs of progress, receiving a better grade in McKenzie’s eyeball test. The final record doesn’t support that claim. Some stats – the defense only gave up more points once in franchise history – don’t either.
The Raiders got blown out pretty bad at times, but lost several close games. That’s the crux of McKenzie’s argument. The Raiders were more competitive this season, although they never figured out how to finish.
“I thought we played better in my mind without a doubt, compared to last year,” McKenzie said. “It was a different 4-12 team. As far as being 4-12, the record is what it is. We have to find a way to win, some of those close games, we have to close them out some kind of way, and we'll work to upgrade wherever we have to in order to get that done.”
McKenzie said the 2012 and 2013 teams aren’t even comparable. He said the roster had a different makeup, with an attitude and character closer to his and head coach Dennis Allen’s ideal.
The issues: talent level and a maddening inconsistency in all phases.
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“We didn't put it all together throughout the course of the season, throughout the course of a game. Third down hurt us on defense, especially the latter part of the season. But the overall play was better in 2013, when you're comparing.”
While it was better, it was far from good enough. Continuity was kept in the coaching staff and will be to a certain extent on the depth chart, McKenzie is looking for upgrades all over. He wants to get bigger and tougher up front. And, obviously, the Raiders need a quarterback. Save middle linebacker Nick Roach, fullback Marcel Reece and strong safety Tyvon Branch, precious few jobs are secure.
“We're not set in stone anywhere,” McKenzie said. “We're not just sitting here resting thinking we got it made here or there, we feel like we have some good players, we can have some productive players, for whatever role they will be playing in, but we are not set anywhere, and we're going to upgrade every position.”