McKenzie says new coach could be hired 'soon'

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McKenzie says new coach could be hired 'soon'

MOBILE, Ala. -- Reggie McKenzie has been a relative man of mystery since his introductory media conference as the Raiders' new general manager on Jan. 10."That's just the way I like it," he said with a huge grin after getting off his connecting flight here Monday morning.
Indeed, McKenzie has made no public comments since that day, when he relieved Hue Jackson of his coaching duties and embarked upon a coaching search that has been linked to the likes of former Miami interim coach Todd Bowles, Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, Green Bay assistant head coachinside linebackers Winston Moss, Philadelphia offensive coordinator Marty Mornhingweg and Chicago offensive coordinator Mike Tice.But McKenzie was easy to spot on the plane, sporting Raiders gear from head to toe, from his Raiders cap to his Raiders polo shirt to his sweat pants emblazoned with the Raiders logo.The first true Raiders G.M. hired since Al Davis in 1963 has his plate full and he will be joined by eight scouts, he said, here during Senior Bowl week to go through the paces. In fact, McKenzie turned his nose up at a report that said his interview with Moss last week did not go well."That's far from the truth," McKenzie said.Following then, a brief Q&A with McKenzie at the Mobile airport at the dawn of Senior Bowl weekPaul Gutierrez: How would you describe the past two weeks and everything you've been doing since you've become G.M.?
Reggie McKenzie: Lot of work, lot of fun, you know? New job. It's a dream job, so lots of things to do to get started.PG: Have you spent much time in Alameda, or have you been on the road non-stop?
RM: Everything (laughs). I work in the in the office and been away a lot.PG: Thoughts on these playoffs so far, had to tug at your heart at least a little to see the Packers lose right away?
RM: Yeah, yeah, that was disappointing but that's usually what happens -- the hot team usually keeps rolling. That's what happened with the Giants. They're rolling. Same with New England, really.PG: What are your plans as the Raiders General Manager here at the Senior Bowl this week, what do you hope to get accomplished, what are some of the things on your checklist while you're here?
RM: Well, you know, the normal. Meet and greet with the players, see what they look like, kind of get an idea who's what. Coach meetings. It's kind of different, being the G.M. (smiles broadly). And trying to finalize a coach, you know?PG: And that's the next question, obviously: where is that process right now? A lot of names out there and I know you said you wanted your "guy" and that you had a short list but didn't want to say who was on it until you had to
RM: And I'm going to keep it like that (laughs). You'll know soon enough. Soon enough.RELATED: Philbin hire puts pressure on Raiders
PG: Is this something that could happen this week?
RM: Yeah. Yeah. It could happen. It could happen by Saturday.PG: A lot of names out there so far -- Bowles, Moss, Allen, Mornhingweg. But let me throw another name out at youJon Gruden?
RM: (Smiles and pauses for seven seconds) I'm going to just laugh. You can put 'giggle.' (Laughs again).RELATED: Moss interview would not have broken NFL rules
PG: Have you made any hires yet, staff, coaches, scouts?
RM: No. Our purpose first is to evaluate what we have, and I'm not in a hurry to hire and fire, at all.PG: What about the assistant coaches that are currently under contract?
RM: That's going to be up to the new coach.PG: So then the guys that are still under contract technically are still working until the new coach comes in?
RM: Yeah.PG: So then they're kind of in, I don't know if limbo is the right word?
RM: Yeah, well, you know, but they're in kind of an interview mode, I would say.PG: And the coaches no longer under contract?
RM: They're free to interview. The (new) coach could interview those guys, too. We're keeping all the doors open for the new coach.

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch excellent fit for Raiders scheme, ailing Oakland fan base

Marshawn Lynch is a Raider. He announced that fact on Twitter in his own unique way Wednesday, completing a month-long process from initial interest to final signature.

The Raiders gave him a new contract and traded Seattle for his rights, allowing the Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum to come out of retirement and play for his hometown team.

That’s good news for Raiders fans on several fronts. He fills an immediate need at running back created when Latavius Murray left for Minnesota.

It temporarily tempers, though certainly doesn’t extinguish, rage about the Raiders relocating to Las Vegas.

[RATTO: Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft]

Owner Mark Davis hopes to move his team when a new stadium is complete in 2020. 

Lynch won't be there. Lynch won’t represent Vegas. He’s an Oakland Raider, playing for the city he champions at every turn. Lynch regularly gives back to this community and might be its most popular native son right now.

Lynch missed playing football, but he wanted to represent his hometown. That was clear in his tweet. He explained it this way: “I’m really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe…town bizness breath on me.”

He’ll celebrate joining the Raiders on Thursday with a block party and autograph signing in Oakland.

Lynch will give East Bay fans something to cheer for that won’t be shipping off to Vegas in a few years.

Nothing can cure the pain of an NFL team leaving Oakland a second time. Wins are ibuprofen, giving short-term relief to an ailing fan local base. He can certainly help the Raiders provide that.

The Silver and Black needed a big, physical primary rusher to pair with elusive, yet smaller backs Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.

Lynch is that guy. There’s no question he’s a football fit.

Lynch is a strong interior rusher from several different formations. He could run well behind fullback Jamize Olawale, as a lone shotgun runner or in jumbo packages with quarterback Derek Carr under center and behind a hulking Raiders offensive line.

While new offensive coordinator Todd Downing will add some wrinkles to an existing scheme, the Raiders employ a versatile system that could suit Lynch’s many strengths.

Lynch ranks among the toughest, most aggressive backs of his generation and one of the best resisting tackles.

He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and 2.8 yards after contact per rushing attempt in his career, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus.

Lynch led the NFL with 245 broken tackles between 2013 and 2016 – 56 more than the next guy -- and he didn’t even play last season, per PFF.

He led the league with an unreal 3.1 yards after per contact in 2014, his last year fully healthy. He played just eight times in 2015 due to an abdominal injury that required surgery.

Lynch is completely healthy after his year travelling the world, doing charity work and expanding his clothing line, but effectiveness is always questioned of running backs over 30. Lynch turned 31 last week. He heads into his 10th season without having been hit in a while, and many believe he can produce like few others his age have in the NFL.

He’ll take the lion’s share of carries in a three-man rotation with Richard and Washington. He reportedly gets an extra $2 million if he's just the second Raider since 2010 to reach 1,000 yards. There’s motivation to push for that and other incentives in the deal. If Lynch is in vintage Beast Mode and fans are happy, the Raiders will gladly pay the extra freight.

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

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AP

Here's to hoping Marshawn Lynch upstages the NFL Draft

Marshawn Lynch is going to upstage the NFL Draft for a few moments by announcing his signing with the Oakland Raiders Thursday.

The problem with this is obvious. He can’t upstage it all day long.

The NFL Draft is one of those events that demeans all who come in contact with it, because it basically extols the three virtues the owners find most inspiring – dishonesty, bullying and treachery. Between everyone lying about everything they do, making players submit to the most revolting reputational indignities, and just good old-fashioned broken promises like, “If you’re there at 119, we’re taking you, oh wait, we suddenly hate you and your skill set,” the draft is largely a festival of misery.

Not universally, mind you. Some players love it, especially the ones who hit the lottery, get picked higher than they thought they would and go to the perfect team for their talents and temperaments. That’s not the usual road, but there you go.

But mostly, nah. And we’re not even getting into the cavalcade of media self-anointeds who think they know what they’re talking about but only serve to remind us that not everybody is a fun companion in a bar.

Now the disclaimer: If you like the NFL Draft, fine. Wallow in every minute of it with our blessing. It'll keep you from all level of other mischief, and it is relatively harmless fun if you can deal with the aesthetic unpleasantries to which we just referred. Just understand that you are spending 356 minutes of party prep for three days of partying and six days of cleanup. It's a hamster wheel of fun, but it is a hamster wheel.

But then there's Marshawn Lynch, who overcame being one of those draft casualties (because Buffalo didn’t work for him, and he didn’t work all that well for Buffalo, either), is coming out of retirement to be traded and then rendered a Raider in the time still allotted for them to reside in Oakland. As a distraction, this will play well enough. It sure beats DeMarcus Cousins being traded by Sacramento during the NBA All-Star Game.

I suppose this is a heart-rending tale of one man’s loyalty to his city (the right place at the right price), although there is the naggingly worrisome component that going back to football won’t be good for his overall health. It is the risk he runs, to be sure, and one can only assume that he has made a clearheaded choice, but this is not a spot that treats its recidivists well.

That’s recidivists, as in “folks who walked away happily, then found out they needed it too much for their own good.”

Frankly, there is no good reason not to want this to turn out well for Lynch (the Raiders can take of themselves with or without him, and within two years will do exactly that), but it is a case of bucking some daunting odds in what is too often a zero-sum game. That’s a level of risk that should make anyone queasy.

But it is what Marshawn Lynch wants, risks and all, and as a grown adult he should get the opportunity few are afforded – to chase and catch his dream until it stops being a dream and becomes a chore.

If it works out for the Raiders as well, fine. Lynch isn’t the one who will put them over the top in a conference dominated by three teams – New England, the Patriots and Bill Belichick – but if he finds the athletic closure he seeks, it ought to be good enough for the rest of us.

Especially if it even momentarily minimizes the rest of the hot rhetorical/gasbaggy mess that is Draft Night. If nothing else, here’s hoping Marshawn Lynch is the star of the night. That’s not the way to bet, of course, but a person can hope.