ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie never doubted he would bring back coach Dennis Allen for a third year despite back-to-back 4-12 records.
If anything, McKenzie believes the team is on the cusp of turning around what has been a decade-long tailspin and likes the direction the franchise is moving under Allen.
Speaking to reporters for the first time in more than two months, McKenzie said Thursday that he purposely kept a low profile while rumors swirled about Allen's job status during the final month of the regular season in hopes the chatter would go away.
"It was not an issue with me," McKenzie said. "I understand how things kind of go in different directions when it gets toward the end of the season throughout the league when predicting who's going to be in, who's going to be out. But I wasn't going to play into that.
"I wasn't going to add fuel to just to put out a fire that wasn't there."
Oakland ended the season on a six-game losing streak and dropped eight of its last nine. Allen's 8-24 record after two years is the worst of any Raiders coach in franchise history since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. McKenzie still gave Allen a vote of confidence and pointed out the team's dearth of talent on the roster.
On that front, McKenzie said he and owner Mark Davis agree.
"He saw some progress in some areas, absolutely," McKenzie said. "But it's the bottom line, and like myself, Mark wants some better results.
"Definitely we lack some talent in some areas, no question. We're fully aware of some of the places we're lacking offensively and defensively. We're trying to upgrade at quarterback, at receiver, linemen on both sides. The whole defense."
Oakland's second-year general manager also touched on several other topics during the 45-minute conversation with a small group of selected reporters at the team's facilities.
Dressed casually in a Raiders sweatshirt, black-and-white shorts and shower shoes, McKenzie spoke in a quiet tone but talked enthusiastically about heading into the offseason armed with more than $50 million worth of salary cap space and a full allotment of draft picks.
That was something he didn't have in either of the two previous years when the Raiders' payroll was saddled with bloated contracts that limited the general manager's ability to sign other free agents.