Who will speak loudest for Raiders — Jon Gruden or Reggie McKenzie?

Updated January 11, 2018 - 6:34 pm

They haven’t closed and locked the War Room doors yet, haven’t held conflicting opinions about draft-eligible names on a board or free agent players on film, haven’t stood firm in their disagreements on personnel.

But they will.

It’s as much a certainty as the Raiders soon making Las Vegas home.

It begs the question, then, that when a final decision must be made on the roster — who to draft and who not to, who to sign and who to waive, what contracts need be extended and what ones need be eliminated — which voice between Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie will speak last and loudest?

Who has the ultimate say on things?

Most would surmise the dude who just received $100 million over 10 years.

Yeah. It’s probably the smart bet.

Gruden returned as coach Tuesday and it’s hard to believe he did so not only with bags full of owner Mark Davis’ cash, but with supreme authority when to comes to how the team.

If you’re going to be lured out of the comforts of a television booth after nine years away from coaching, you’re probably asking for money and power.

The company line Tuesday painted a harmonious bond between the new coach and a general manager in McKenzie who has held his position since 2012, and perhaps such a rapport will exist between men cut from the same Lambeau Field cloth.

Gruden and McKenzie had their careers overlap in Green Bay, where front row seats allowed them to observe the working bond between a Hall of Fame general manager in Ron Wolf and a powerful head coach in Mike Holmgren.

The company line Tuesday was that a similarly successful relationship can be shaped in Oakland and eventually Las Vegas, but what is said at a fancy press conference and what happens when those doors are locked are often vastly different realities.

“Jon Gruden is a football guy and our focus will be to make sure everyone in this building is the same way,” McKenzie said. “I’m grinding my teeth right now because we aren’t preparing for a playoff game, and that was the goal.

“But we feel we can get right back in it next year. We’re not going to sit here and wallow and stay upset. We’re going to roll up out sleeves and get to grinding. That’s what Gruden and I both want — get the right players to help this team win.”

McKenzie was the league’s Executive of the Year in 2016 and there is no question the highlight of his draft history occurred two years earlier, when the Raiders began to build the foundation of what they believe will ultimately produce a Super Bowl title — Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson, Justin Ellis, TJ Carrie.

But other classes under McKenzie haven’t come close to yielding such depth and talent — not one player remains on the roster from his first two drafts — and for this you would think Gruden will now become heavily involved in which names are called for the Raiders in April. That includes deciding which high-priced veterans like Marshawn Lynch and Michael Crabtree and Bruce Irvin and Sean Smith and David Amerson stay and go.

“I love the Raiders, and most of all, I love to win,” Gruden said. “I am going to do everything I can. No guarantees, no promises, but I want to win. I look forward to working with Reggie and his staff. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We are going to be united, we are going to work hard, and we are going to assemble the best team possible.”

This was, Davis insisted, how he envisioned things working for years — Gruden coaching the talent that McKenzie assembled. But you’re also not paying someone nine figures and limiting his sway as to who those players are on the field.

Gruden is all-in on this job and would appear to own the majority of leverage.

Things could absolutely work. There’s nothing to say Gruden-McKenzie won’t fit as perfectly as Holmgren-Wolf once did in Green Bay.

But they’re going to disagree.

It happens everywhere, and someone always speaks last and loudest.

“They’re working their arrangement out,” Davis said. “They’ll figure it out.”

It’s the company line and, for now, they’re sticking to it.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation: Raiders announce several coaching hires
Review-Journal Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and reporter Michael Gehlken talk about the Raiders coaching hires as well as a significant omission.
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Construction of stadium on schedule
Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and reporter Rick Velotta talk about how the Raiders' stadium construction is progressing and the complications that might occur due to pricing.
Raiders hire Paul Guenther as defensive coordinator
Paul Guenther is the new defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders. Guenther spent the past four years as the Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive coordinator. Guenther, 46, worked with the Bengals from 2005 to 2017. He will call defensive plays in 2018, a role that Ken Norton Jr. handled the first 10 games last season before being fired. Guenther expressed his interest in working with Raiders defensive backs Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu. “I really like both of them,” Guenther said. "(Conley) was probably my favorite corner coming out last year." "We just need to get these guys on the grass, keep them healthy and teach them the system," Guenther said.
McKenzie shares memory of Gruden coaching in Green Bay
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie shared one of his memories of working alongside head coach Jon Gruden back when they were both in Green Bay.
Vegas Nation: Raiders introduce Jon Gruden as head coach
Bryan Salmond, Ed Graney and Michael Gehlken discuss the Raiders introduction of Jon Gruden as their new head coach, including the unique atmosphere and how Gruden will work with Derek Carr.
Former Raiders discuss what the team and fans can expect from Jon Gruden
Following a press conference to announce Jon Gruden as the Oakland Raiders head coach, former players discussed what it is that he'll bring to the team and the fans.
Jon Gruden news conference highlights
The Oakland Raiders announced Jon Gruden as their head coach on Tuesday at the team headquarters in Alameda, Calif. Gruden previously coached the team from 1998-2001. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mark Davis says the Raiders' edge will come from leadership and coaching
Following a news conference announcing Jon Gruden's return as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, team owner Mark Davis said the Raiders' edge will come from leadership and coaching.
Vegas Nation: Raiders hire Jon Gruden
Michael Gehlken talks about the Raiders decision to hire Jon Gruden as their new head coach.
Vegas Nation: Gruden to be named Raiders head coach
Bryan Salmond and Ed Graney discuss the Raiders hiring of Jon Gruden as their new head coach.
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Votes to occur in coming meetings
Ed Graney and Rick Velotta talk about the latest news about the Las Vegas Stadium.
Vegas Nation: What Does The Raiders Future Look Like?
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the potential hiring of Jon Gruden and the Raiders performance during the 2017 season.
Raiders’ Crabtree frustrated by lack of playing time to end season
Michael Crabtree expressed his frustration Sunday when asked about his future with the Raiders. The Raiders are expected to part ways with the ninth-year veteran wide receiver this offseason. “I’m out here playing ball,” Crabtree said. “Whatever they ask me to do. Like today, if they only want me to play 10 plays, I’ll play 10 plays." Crabtree started the season hot as the team’s top wideout, catching six touchdowns during the first six games. Crabtree received just three targets against the Eagles on Christmas night and two targets versus the Chargers. Crabtree is owed a $7 million salary in 2018, the third season of a four-year, $34 million extension he signed late in 2015. “I did everything they asked of me. These last two games, I’ve probably had three targets, but nobody saying anything about that," Crabtree said.
Raiders might lure Jon Gruden back to coaching
The Raiders are reportedly pursuing ESPN analyst Jon Gruden to fill their vacant head coaching position. Gruden, 54, has not coached since the 2008 NFL season. “I don’t want to sit here and speculate. There is no news to report,” Gruden told ESPN on Saturday. The NFL Network reported that Davis plans to offer Gruden more than $10 million a year to coach the team with an stake in team ownership. Gruden has been connected with openings in recent years, including a lucrative offer from Indianapolis last season. Gruden was the Raiders head coach from 1998-2001, going 38-26 in four seasons. “I know (Gruden),” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “I’ve known him for a while. But the (Del Rio firing) is still pretty fresh.”
Raiders fire Jack Del Rio
Following the Raiders loss to the Chargers, head coach Jack Del Rio was fired. Del Rio was hired in January 2015 after spending time as the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator. In 2016, Del Rio led the Raiders to a 12-4 record and their first playoff birth since 2002. After the 2016 season, Del Rio signed a 4-year contract extension. In three seasons as the Raiders head coach, Del Rio amassed a 25-23 record. “I’m very grateful," Del Rio said. "My childhood team. But it’s a results business.”
Vegas Nation: Del Rio fired after Raiders drop season finale
Bryan Salmond, Ed Graney, Michael Gehlken and Gilbert Manzano discuss the aftermath of the Raiders loss, including Jack Del Rio getting fired and what might follow.
Raiders' QB Carr reacts to Del Rio firing
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr addressed the media following the team's loss to the Chargers and discussed his thoughts on head coach Jack Del Rio being fired.
Jack Del Rio announces Oakland Raiders fired him following loss to Chargers
After three years of serving as the head coach for the Oakland Raiders, Jack Del Rio announced he was fired by the organization following the team's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Nacion Vegas: Raiders pierden 30-10 contra los Chargers
Nacion Vegas: Los Raiders pierden 30-10 contra los Chargers para finalizar la temporada. Nación Vegas tiene los detalles del juego entre los Raiders y los Chargers.
Vegas Nation: Raiders finish the season with a loss to Chargers
Bryan Salmond recaps the Raiders final game of the season.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Ready For Loud Fans
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over how the Raiders are preparing for the potentially loud crowd for the Chargers game.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Prep For Final Game
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over how the Raiders are preparing for their final game and the future of Todd Downing.
Vegas Nation Red Zone: Raiders face Chargers for final regular-season game
Vegas Nation Red Zone video host Bryan Salmond and NFL writer Gilbert Manzano discuss the Raiders matchup on New Year's Eve against the Los Angeles Chargers.
UNLV can use Las Vegas Raiders stadium parking lots, agreement shows
UNLV will have access to Las Vegas Raiders stadium parking lots, on and offsite, and collect parking fee revenue from them during UNLV events. Now, all that’s needed are the lots themselves. The regents are expected to ask questions about the joint-use agreement on Jan. 4, then consider its approval on Jan. 19. Some of the key elements of the draft agreement: — UNLV will have access to onsite and offsite stadium parking and tailgating lots, which will be administered by the Raiders with net proceeds of parking sales going to UNLV. — The Raiders will control all concessions at the stadium, but net concession revenue from UNLV events will belong to UNLV.
Vegas Nation: Raiders fail to execute, fall to the Eagles
Michael Gehlken talks about the Raiders loss to the Eagles on Christmas Day, including the Raiders' inability to execute and take advantage of a good defensive performance.
Vegas Nation: David Amerson Will Not Play Monday
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over the Raiders Injury Report and David Amerson being listed as questionable for Monday's game.
Vegas Nation: Penn and Feliciano are done for the season
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken provides an update on several players heading into the Raiders matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vegas Nation: Offensive line depth taking hits
Bryan Salmond and Michael Gehlken talk about Rodney Hudson playing through kidney stones as well as several Raiders struggling with injuries.
Vegas Nation: Raiders taking Wednesday off
Bryan Salmond and Michael Gehlken talk about the Raiders struggling to digest last week's loss as well as who might replace Donald Penn at left tackle.
Nacion Vegas: Cowboys derrotan Raiders, 20-17
Derek Carr perdió el balón fuera de los límites cerca de la línea de una yarda de los Cowboys con 31 segundos por jugarse. Dallas recuperó la pelota para sellar la victoria.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Fall To Cowboys
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal reporters Michael Gehlken, Gilbert Manzano and Ed Graney recap Sunday night's Raiders 20-17 loss against the Cowboys.
How the Raiders plan to balance their fan base in Oakland and Las Vegas
At the Oakland Raiders groundbreaking ceremony in Las Vegas the team president and owner discussed how they will balance their fan base until they move and how they're planning to deal with any issues they could encounter with the stadium construction.
Raiders remember Las Vegas shooting victims at groundbreaking
During the Oakland Raiders groundbreaking ceremony in Las Vegas, Raiders owner Mark Davis spoke about how important it was to pay tribute to Las Vegas shooting victims at the event.
Raiders break ground on Las Vegas stadium site
The Raiders hosted a ground breaking ceremony at the Las Vegas stadium site near the Strip. Elaine Wilson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like