McKenzie says he fired Jackson

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McKenzie says he fired Jackson

New Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie said Tuesday at his introductory press conference that the firing of head coach Hue Jackson was a decision he made prior to his arrival at team headquarters.

McKenzie, the former L.A. Raiders linebacker who was hired last week after a long career in the Packers' front office, shared the podium with owner Mark Davis in a packed media room in Alameda.

McKenzie disclosed that when he interviewed he was told that the position of GM would include the power to hire and fire the coach. After accepting the job, McKenzie said he informed the team's owner of his intention to dismiss Jackson.

"No. 1, I want my guy. Everything is based on performance," McKenzie said. "But I go with my gut a lot, so when it's time to make the final call, my gut is going to tell me one thing. When I met, interviewed, with Mr. Davis, Mark told me the general manager would have the power to hire and fire the coach. Recently I let him know that I would like to move on from coach Jackson and began my search for a new coach -- and he was OK with that.

The new general manager said that he'd studied the Raiders and Jackson this year and had made up his mind about the coach's fate within "the last couple of days." The move came four days after the team announced McKenzie's hiring.

"The decision to move forward and where we are going into this new era, it's going to be a time for change," McKenzie said. "I felt there was a need for change at the head coaching position, from the top. We're moving into a new era. No disrespect to coach Jackson but this was something I wanted to do, start anew."

McKenzie spoke of reshaping the franchise with his vision and leadership.

"The legacy of the Raiders is steeped in tradition but with all things there comes a time when change is necessary and for the Raiders, that time is now," McKenzie said. "The Raiders organization, with respect and deference to all its tradition and history, is about to embark on a new era."

What exactly that entails is a quality that McKenzie will define. As it applies to the roster, it will include physical ability, of course, but intangibles will be a part of the process, according to the new GM.

"You want to make sure youve got productive, good football players," McKenzie said. "Its not totally talent. I want some guys who love to play the game, thats going to play hard, thats going to play tough. Thats what Im looking for. Im looking for some guys who want to play and want to win."

Asked about his role in the firing of Jackson and the hiring of McKenzie, Davis said the process of moving the Raiders forward was initiated by the death of his father, Al Davis, the team's longtime owner.

"Change happened on Oct. 8," Davis said, referencing the day of his father's passing. "And we had to bring this full-around. The one thing I do know is what I don't know. And the one thing I did know was I needed to bring the right people in here. I had the right people to consult with (former Packers GM) Ron Wolf and (former Raiders coach) John Madden, and those kind of people. We discussed a lot of things about the Raiders organization and which way it should go.

"And my feeling always has been that if my father wasn't here we needed somebody to run that football side of the building. And I needed to find the right person and I truly believe that Reggie McKenzie is the man for this job and I think you'll all see that as we go along."

Davis said he had a lot of respect for Jackson, that the coach had "brought a lot to this organization. But as Reggie said, it is time to move forward, and that's what we're going to do."

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”