General Manager Reggie McKenzie
Since taking over as General Manager, Reggie McKenzie has found talent in places many others haven't, and it's because of that he's been honored with the Pro Football Writers Association's accolade of Executive of the Year. Thursday afternoon, he spoke with reporters via conference call about the award.
Here are the quick hits from his conversation:
**The Raiders GM expressed his gratitude, and what it means to be awarded PFWA's Executive of the Year.
"The acknowledgement, to me, is for the organization, from the top down. From the patience and the vision together with me and M.D. [Owner Mark Davis] on through the work, the daily work of the coaches and players and to play on Sunday. That's what the acknowledgement is really all about. You see the entire organization working together to win. That's what I see. It's an accomplishment from the standpoint that we're winning now. That's what I feel good about. That's why this award is special. It's a team award, but it's special to me that this thing is resulting into wins."
McKenzie shared what it was like going through the struggles of losing seasons and now eventually getting to this point.
"It was very difficult. There's so much change around this league, but when you stay true to what you believe in and people around you support you and that vision, it makes it easier. But yeah, it got hard. Yeah. You know what you guys were writing back in the day. (laughing) Nobody likes losing, so I get that. If you really believe in what you're doing and you're supported, the hope is to start to win games, and to get to the playoffs is a step. We feel good about that, but we're only scratching the surface. We still want to hold up the trophy. That's what we're going to continue to strive to do."
He talked about the team's loss in the AFC Wild Card game, and how he's recuperating from it.
"Well, I'm still getting over it until I win my next game. It's tough anytime you lose your last game. It's going to eat at you and that's one thing about being a player, being associated in this, it's the drive for the next game. What can I do to help us win that next game? And that's the hope we have now, is the opportunity to play again, you know? Albeit, in '17, but that's what we've got to do. We've got to set the course for this '17 season. So, it's going to eat at you until then."
McKenzie said the addition of guard Kelechi Osemele last offseason was a huge free agent signing for the Raiders.
"I think Kelechi [Osemele] solidified our offensive line, from the standpoint of what we wanted from our run game, from a physicality standpoint, what we had always talked about from Day 1. He added to that and he put some teeth into the whole offensive mentality. I felt like that was an impact. I was happy to see him get his first Pro Bowl. That was good to see."
He discussed the needs of the team's defense, and how they'll try to improve for next season.
"We've got a few. We're just going to have to improve in every area. We're going to have to figure out the players, number one. We're going to have some free agents and we're going to have to overcome some injuries that we had late, but we should be OK with that. We feel like, each level, we need improvement. That's D-line, linebackers and the DB's. We need to get better at all levels. We really do. I don't think we're locked in anywhere as far as position."