The Oakland Raiders’ 2016 season set the stage for the organization’s return to greatness. Excellent offseason additions, along with another season of experience for their core, put forth the first winning record for the franchise since 2002.
When taking a look at the front office and staff members of the Raiders, you can see why they have climbed the ranks the way they have. Head coach Jack Del Rio has the entire roster buying in to his system, displaying a certain business-like attitude during the season.
However, Del Rio is only able to work with what those above him put on the field, including general manager Reggie McKenzie. Now in his fifth season with the Raiders, McKenzie has begun to flourish in his role, making impactful acquisitions to turn the Raiders around.
McKenzie was recently awarded the Pro Football Writers of America’s Executive of the Year Award, for his impact on turning around the Raiders’ organization. The former NFL linebacker made a conference call with the media, discussing the significance of the achievement and the impact of the organization, via Kyle Martin of Raiders.com:
“The acknowledgement, to me, is for the organization, from the top down,” McKenzie said. “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 has been credited for assembling one of, if not the best, offensive lines in the league. The offseason addition of Pro Bowler Kelechi Osemele solidified the entire line, which allowed the fewest sacks on the NFL.
McKenzie and the offensive line were also the key reasons as to why the Raiders had a top-10 ranked offensive all season long. The recognition from the Pro Football Writers of America is well deserved, as his patience and steady transactions had guided the Raiders’ return to greatness.
When taking a look at the transformation the organization has gone through, McKenzie couldn’t help but praise the people around him. He addressed the transformation of the organization and talked about the stepping-stones they have passed:
“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,” McKenzie stated. “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.”
The recognition from the Pro Football Writers of America has come in bunches this offseason for the Raiders. Earlier this week, defensive end Khalil Mack was awarded their version of the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Also, Raiders’ rookie safety Karl Joseph was recognized on the PFWA All-Rookie defensive team.
The Raiders head into a key offseason, with some major decisions looming. With the help of the organization and the faith of the fans, McKenzie seems capable of making the necessary decisions to help the Raiders take that next step.