Raiders' McKenzie Still Has Believers

Former Packers VP counsels patience to fans, says McKenzie is methodical and successful in his approach to talent evaluation

This hasn’t been Reggie McKenzie’s best week.

After several questionable moves in free agency, the Raiders general manager has been bashed by fans on Twitter and questioned by the media.

As one Raiders fan tweeted, “Fire Reggie McKenzie now. Don’t let him draft anyone.”

And, in a column Friday, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News listed the Raiders’ actions this week – particularly the botched signing of offensive lineman Rodger Saffold – and noted that McKenzie needs to make “a big move” to make up for it.

Yet, he asked, “What has McKenzie done in two-plus years that makes anybody think his next big move – or next 100 moves – will be the right one?”

Yet on Thursday, McKenzie’s signings of defensive end Justin Tuck and linebacker LaMarr Woodley brought some cheers from Raiders fans.

And McKenzie also got support from former Packers vice president Andrew Brandt, who worked many years with McKenzie in Green Bay and now writes for Sports Illustrated.

In his Business of Football column for SI’s Monday Morning Quarterback site, Brandt says he’s seen and heard the anger from the Bay Area about McKenzie’s recent moves – and other moves from his first two seasons in Oakland and counsels one thing: patience.

Brandt says he’s watched McKenzie in film rooms dissect players, have strong opinions and make terrific talent evaluations.

“I know the last thing Raider Nation wants to hear is a plea for more patience, especially after the Saffold twist, but a new era of cap prosperity has just begun. I admit to bias, but Reggie is consumed with finding the right players for his team, no matter how long it takes or where he finds them,” wrote Brandt. “Saffold and (offensive tackle) Austin Howard, however uninspiring, were just the start of the book on 2014. Let’s see how the chapters play out.”

As Brandt points out, McKenzie looks at the long term, not the short term. He’s deliberate.

“He walks slowly, he talks slowly, he eats slowly and he will build slowly,” wrote Brandt, just before the Raiders signed Tuck and Woodley. “Saffold and Howard were supposed to be the first expenditures of the $60 million in cap room, and there will be more, with reports of veterans Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Terrell Thomas set to visit. Cap room doesn’t have to be exhausted in March.”

Thomas, a former cornerback for the Giants, is set to visit Friday in Oakland. Some defensive tackles also are due to visit.

So, while McKenzie has made head-scratching moves in last year’s draft (taking D.J. Hayden and Menelik Watson in the first two rounds) and started free agency by losing Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston and whiffing on Saffold, McKenzie still has believers in his corner.

Said Woodley, after signing Thursday: “Just with a few pieces added to this team, this team can be a good team.”

Only, however, if McKenzie makes some nice moves in March, April and May.

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