Raiders

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."

Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

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Injury report: CB Sean Smith questionable; Washington TE Reed's status uncertain

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Raiders are remarkably healthy heading into Sunday night’s game against the Washington football club.

The entire 53-man roster practiced fully on Friday, before heading to the nation’s capital.

That includes veteran cornerback Sean Smith, who missed the previous game with a neck injury. A shoulder ailment cropped up during the week, which prompted the Raiders to label him questionable heading into Week 3. Smith’s the only Raider on the injury report, and even he’s in decent shape.

“I mean we put it on there because there’s still a little bit of a question,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “You don’t have probable’s anymore. Given the choices, I just left him that way.”

That means the Raiders are going to have some healthy scratches a week after Smith was the only injured player sitting out.

Washington has some impact players on the mend. That included tight end Jordan Reed, who is questionable with a rib/sternum injury. He stands 6-foot-2, 246 pounds and is the type of receiving tight end that gives the Raiders fits. He has 1,638 yards 17 touchdowns the last two seasons, using good hands and a large frame to create mismatches in the secondary.

It’ll be key for the Raiders to defend him well if he’s active, with Nicholas Morrow as a primary coverage option.

“We’re prepared to face him,” Del Rio said. “We think he’s a good player. We’ll approach it that way and adjust if he doesn’t go.”

Washington also lists starting inside linebacker Mason Foster and running back Rob Kelley as questionable.

Raiders Injury Report
Questionable
CB Sean Smith (neck/shoulder)

Washington Injury Report
Questionable

TE Jordan Reed (rib/sternum), LB Mason Foster (shoulder), RB Rob Kelley (rib), S Monate Nicholson (shoulder), CB Josh Norman (shoulder)

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

Karl Joseph living up to first-round billing with early impact for Raiders

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Raiders safety Karl Joseph notched his first career forced fumble in Week 2’s blowout victory over the New York Jets. It came on his first sack, where he bent around a tackle into the pocket and devoured his pray.

Joseph recovered the ball, and the Raiders quickly scored a touchdown. The second-year pro enjoyed that moment, but left the game with regrets.

"I should have definitely had more sacks than I did,” Joseph said. “I feel like I should have had three.”

Joseph had quarterback Josh McCown in the crosshairs three times, and feels like he should’ve finished each one. The game plan provided opportunity. Joseph blitzed six times – fellow safety Reggie Nelson attacked thrice – and pressured the quarterback four times.

It was a relatively new responsibility, considering he blitzed nine times all last year. Joseph will be first to say he was a different player then. He was less explosive, more tentative and a smidge less confident, lingering effects from an ACL tear during his final college season. Joseph was cleared to play as a rookie but wasn’t all the way back, doubly hampered by missing an offseason program where rookies grow quick.

"I wasn’t completely myself,” Joseph said in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports California. “I feel a lot more like myself this year. I obviously feel better physically, and the year of experience in the system has definitely helped. So has adjusting to the NFL life. That’s been an easier transition for me.”

Joseph is playing more like his highlight reel from West Virginia, where he proved a heavy hitter and a solid cover man worthy of last year’s No. 14 overall draft pick. The Jets game isn’t the only evidence of that.

Joseph had an excellent training camp, flashing an aggressive style and solid timing making plays in practice. That translated to the regular-season opener at Tennessee, when he saved a touchdown on consecutive plays. The first came on an open-field tackle. The second was a leaping pass breakup in the end zone, proof positive that Joseph was ready to make a big impact.

"He’s really good close to the line of scrimmage,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. "He’s a really good tackler in the open field. He also plays well on the back end. I think his development is right on time right now.”

The Raiders recognize that, and are using him like a queen on the chessboard. He can move back or forward, as an attacker or the last line of defense. He’s a rover at times, with an ability to create havoc at all levels of the defense.

Joseph is an excellent fit for the defensive scheme, bring a tone-setting physicality to the secondary. He is learning, as part of his development, that the nuclear option isn’t always best. There are times when it is, and Joseph enters those scenarios without fear.

"You can’t play worried about getting hurt. That’s not the way I play,” Joseph said. “It’s about being smart. I had to adjust my game coming into the NFL. Every hit can’t be a big hit. Sometimes you have to be smart and just wrap people up, but you can’t ever play scared.”

He isn’t afraid to take risks or attack when asked, and is already making a major impact on this year’s defense. That isn’t a surprise. It’s expected of first-round picks.

"That’s what he’s supposed to do. He’s supposed to make plays,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s a guy we selected because we thought he’d be a guy that could come in and impact on our defense. In the first two games of this year he’s played well. There are still things, like I tell you all the time, that have cleaning up to do, work to do, things to improve on, but he’s off to a good start and obviously it follows up from a good offseason. Healthy, a lot of good work and confidence that he’s gaining as we go.”