Raiders struggle in first year of new regime

Associated Press Modified: November 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm •  Published: November 20, 2012
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ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — When the new regime took over the Oakland Raiders last January, they inherited an 8-8 team that fell one game shy of the playoffs, featuring an offense that could be prolific at times and a defense that was historically bad.

Ten games into the first season under general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen, the offense has taken a decided step backward, the defense has somehow regressed and the Raiders (3-6) are nowhere near being a playoff team.

The situation McKenzie and Allen entered was not an easy one despite the presence of a capable quarterback in Carson Palmer, a big-play running back in Darren McFadden and a handful of other playmakers on both sides of the ball.

Late owner Al Davis' team had fallen into disarray in the final years before his death in October 2011, missing the playoffs for nine straight seasons and often failing even to be competitive.

A run of botched draft picks, over-inflated contracts and questionable personnel moves left McKenzie with a major rebuilding job when Davis' son, Mark, hired him to run the football side of the franchise that had been in Al Davis' control for nearly a half-century.

"I know that we didn't have the talent, at the beginning of the year, to be a Super Bowl team," Mark Davis said. "I thought that we had definitely potential to get maybe in the playoffs and beat our division. Obviously, that hasn't happened."

After years of being run by the famously impatient Al Davis, who ran through seven coaches in an 11-season span, the biggest change in a year full of them may be at owner. Mark Davis has delegated the football decisions to McKenzie, who has a job that didn't exist for the franchise until this year.

But three straight losses capped by last Sunday's 38-17 home defeat to New Orleans left the younger Davis so frustrated that he made a rare public appearance in the postgame locker room to express his frustration, as well as his belief in McKenzie and Allen, who will get more time than predecessors to get the Raiders back on the winning track.

"I'm patient. But I want to see progress," Davis said. "I don't want to see regression. Nobody does. And that's why I'm unhappy today. But as far as a pass, I wouldn't call it a pass. They've got contracts, they're going to be here."

McKenzie came in with a long view for building the Raiders under a similar model to the one he worked with during years in the front office with the Green Bay Packers.

He quickly shed some "out of whack" contracts for players like cornerback Stanford Routt and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and set out to find cheaper alternatives who could fit under a tight salary cap.

With no draft picks until No. 95 overall because of previous trades, McKenzie was unable to make many big additions and the results have shown up in the lack of depth on the current roster.

Free agent linebacker Philip Wheeler has had the biggest impact of the offseason additions. Cornerbacks Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer have struggled to stay healthy, guard Mike Brisiel has failed to solidify the offense line and the only regular produced in the draft is linebacker Miles Burris.

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