Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, top, met with reporters Jan. 17 to talk about the team's future and disappointing 2012 season. Strapped by salary cap issues and a roster lacking stars and depth, the Raiders stumbled to a 4-12 record in McKenzie's first season as the team's GM.
Here are excerpts of McKenzie's 42-minute State of the Raiders address:
On running back Darren McFadden, who is entering the final year of his contract after a disappointing 2012 season in which he averaged only 3.3 rushing yards per carry — the lowest for a Raiders back with at least 150 carries in a season:
McKenzie: "I'm confident Darren's going to play his last season. Regardless of what's out there, we have no decision to do anything with Darren."
On McFadden struggling for yards in Oakland's zone blocking scheme during the 2012 season:
McKenzie: "It's obvious that Darren is much better on certain types of plays. That goes without saying. That's how you've got to do it. When you talk about being productive, when you talk about offensively moving the ball, scoring points, getting some plays out of your big-play guys, you've got to find ways to let him do what he does best. We didn't. We didn't do that.
"I’m not an offensive guru, but I do know when Darren is running certain plays, it’s pretty doggone good, and he had some last (this) year. But when you talk about a scheme, he’s not a lateral mover. He’s not one of those guys. As soon as he can go north and south, that’s when he’s at his best.”
On the performance of first-year head coach Dennis Allen:
McKenzie: “I thought what he did with his team, trying to create a culture in that locker room and get those players to believe that we’re making a change here, we try to do this thing the right way in the way we practice, the way we approach games, and I thought he did a really good job getting these players to buy into what we’re doing. Talking to these players, players are looking forward to getting back and that’s what it’s all about. You want a good response to the head coach, to how he’s leading the team and how they follow him.
"I was very pleased by the way he led the team and, to be honest, I’m proud in the way he identified the issues and attacked it. He didn’t just continue to, ‘okay we’re going to continue to run this offense and make it work or we’re going to continue to keep this guy or keep this guy.’ He evaluated it; he stood up and said, ‘okay, we’re going to make a change,’ and did that. I like the way he led this team, the way the defense played especially at the end. It was encouraging. I see much better things in the future. I mean, he’s a rookie coach just like I’m a rookie GM. But for a rookie coach, I like the way he led this team.”
On the mood of owner Mark Davis following the end of the 2012 season:
McKenzie: “Me and Mark, we talk all the time. His concerns were, as mine, how are we going to get better, mainly offensively? We talked about players, we talked about everything. Nobody is happy with a four-win season, let’s get that straight. At the end, we talked about how to upgrade. We didn’t dwell on the negative, if that’s what you’re asking. We talked about, what is the plan? That’s where we were.”
On his vision for improving the team's roster:
McKenzie: "I'm looking for the future. We're trying to build something here. And with building, you can't mortgage the future. So we're trying to lay down a good foundation, get the core players that we think can build this team the right way and make good, sound decisions, be it financial, the personnel, coaching, whatever it is. You see the mistakes, correct it. That's the only way you're going to get better, and that's kind of our philosophy."
On the team's salary cap situation:
“We’re not in the salary cap situation like last year, but we still have issues and have some decisions that have to be made before free agency or when free agency starts. We’re not out of the woods by any stretch, but we are better off than last year.”
On re-signing unrestricted free agents such as defensive tackle Richard Seymour and punter Shane Lechler:
McKenzie: "Everything's predicated on money. You get guys that are used to making a set amount, they're premiere players, and you don't know what other teams are going to throw out there from a contract standpoint."
On the play of quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the season finale:
McKenzie: "You can see the plays, and when things break down, where he can kind of create and do some things. But he had a chance to make some throws and he did pretty good. I was encouraged. Hopefully, the new offensive coordinator will find a way to see what he can do best during this offseason and see what he looks like in preseason games."