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.

Raiders Videos
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Did the Weather slow down construction?
The Raiders stadium in Las Vegas has made significant progress over the past month, and Review-Journal writers Ed Graney, Rick Vellota and Mick Akers go over all the updates including what name of the stadium may potentially be.
Kelsey Martinez no longer listed on Raiders’ coaching staff
Kelsey Martinez, the first female assistant in Raiders history, is no longer listed as with the organization, according to the team’s website. Martinez joined the club in March 2018 under Tom Shaw, the department’s then-coordinator who was dismissed in December. Before joining the Raiders, Martinez worked for 4 years at Tom Shaw Performance at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando. The Raiders did not return requests for comment on Martinez’s status.
Monorail extension will likely not be finished for Raiders 2020 opener
The planned extension to the Las Vegas Monorail system, has not even broken ground yet, and will likely not be completed in time for the Raiders season opener in 2020. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Limo Driver Dan Holmgren Fired
Dan Holmgren was terminated as a Las Vegas limousine driver for leaving his car to chat with Raiders owner Mark Davis and president Marc Badain in front of Caesars Palace on Jan. 28. Dan gives his story to Elaine Emerson in the RJ Studio.
Raiders Stadium Roads
A bevy of road projects that will impact travel to and from the Las Vegas stadium are planned to occur even after the stadium opens in 2020.
Roger Goodell Addresses Media About Raiders Next Season - VIDEO
Roger Goodell addresses media about where the Raiders will play next year and the controversial Rams vs Saints game. Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto go over the details.
Senior Bowl a valuable scouting opportunity for Raiders - VIDEO
The Raiders are looking for better defensive prospects at the Senior Bowl due to the results of the 2018 season. Michael Gehlken goes over what the Raiders general manager and head coach are looking for at this years Senior Bowl.
Las Vegas police and Raiders partner with SafeNest
Las Vegas police and the Raiders partner with SafeNest on Project Safe 417 (the police code for domestic violence is 417). The program partners trained SafeNest volunteer advocates with Metropolitan Police Department officers dispatched to domestic violence calls, allowing advocates to provide immediate crisis advocacy to victims at the scene of those calls. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Senior Bowl Practice Moved Inside Due To Weather - VIDEO
Day three of the Senior Bowl was moved inside for practice due to weather in Alabama. Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over what players the Raiders are looking out for at the Senior bowl.
Vegas Nation Stadium Show: Retractable Field Update - VIDEO
Much like the Arizona Cardinals field, the Raiders will also be playing on a field tray that can be retracted in order to maintain real grass. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Las Vegas Review- Journal reporter Rick Velotta discuss the latest updates regrading the Las Vegas Stadium as well as the groundbreaking of the Raiders headquarters in Henderson.
Raiders Henderson Practice Facility Render - VIDEO
Video of the Raiders practice facility that will be built in Henderson Nevada.
Raiders Headquarters Groundbreaking Ceremony - VIDEO
The Raiders make Henderson their new home with a groundbreaking ceremony. Derek Carr and many other players past a present came together to celebrate the new location. Cassie Soto and Ed Graney report from Henderson, Nevada.
Former Raider James Harris says fans will follow the team "to the moon" - VIDEO
The Oakland Raiders will play in Las Vegas when their team's move is completed in 2020. Former Raiders' defensive end and Las Vegan, James Harris, says fans will follow and support the team "to the moon".
Jim Plunkett on the Raiders' move to Las Vegas, changes under Gruden
At the groundbreaking ceremony for the Raiders new headquarters in Henderson, Nevada, former quarterback Jim Plunkett gave his thoughts on the new facility, the team's move to Las Vegas and what the future holds for the team with head coach Jon Gruden.
JT The Brick says where he thinks the Raiders should play in 2019
At the Raiders headquarters groundbreaking ceremony in Henderson, Nevada, radio host J.T. The Brick gave his take on where he thinks the team should play in 2019 and provided his thoughts on their three, first-round draft picks and more.
Raiders Hold Groundbreaking Ceremony For Henderson Practice Facility
The Raiders hold a groundbreaking ceremony in Henderson for the new practice facility for the teams move to Las Vegas.
A quick look at the Raiders HQ in Henderson
The Raiders held a groundbreaking ceremony for their Las Vegas headquarters, which is based in Henderson, on Monday, Jan. 14th.
Designers of Raiders Field Learn Lessons from Cardinals
The retractable grass in the future home of the Raiders will look largely like an updated and improved version of the field tray system used at State Farm Stadium, home of the Phoenix Cardinals. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation: Mahomes Throws his 50th TD in Victory over the Raiders
The Oakland Raiders lose the last game of the season to the Kansas City Chiefs 35-3. Pat Mahomes throws his 50th touchdown and the Chiefs take first place in the division. Cassie Soto is in studio and Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Kansas City.
Raiders look ahead to next season after loss to Chiefs
After the Oakland Raiders' 35-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, players analyze their play and look ahead to what they can do better in the next season.
Vegas Nation: Raiders hire Mike Mayock as new GM
Raiders beat reporter describes newly-hired general manager's opening press conference.
Vegas Nation: Players receive signing bonuses
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken explains why four players received roster bonuses and what that means for their respective futures on the roster.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Will the Raiders play in Oakland next season?
The Raiders get an emotional win against the Denver Broncos. The game was potentially the Raiders last time playing in the colosseum due to a lawsuit from the city of Oakland. Elaine Wilson and Ed Graney go over the Raider Nation reaction to the game an news.
Vegas Nation: Miller and Parker draw praise
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken takes a look at Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker's Monday Night Football performance against the Denver Broncos.
Vegas Nation: Raiders to face Chiefs in season finale
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken describes how the team is doing after their emotional win over the Denver Broncos, and how they're preparing for the last game of the year in Kansas City.
Raiders Win Emotional Game Against Broncos - Vegas Nation
The Oakland Raiders win their Monday Night football game against the Denver Broncos. This game is potentially the last time the Raiders will play in Oakland before coming to Las Vegas. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto, Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney go over the emotional win.
Carr, Gruden reflect on what could be the last game played in Oakland
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr comment on what could be the the last home game the team played at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Raiders locker room after victory over Broncos
Raiders players Jalen Richard, Lee Smith, Karl Joseph, and Erik Harris react to defeating the Denver Broncos in what could be the final game at the Oakland Coliseum.
Raiders fans react to possible final game in Oakland
Raiders fans from around the country respond to the team potentially playing their final game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum prior to Monday night's game against the Denver Broncos.
Vegas Nation: Raiders hold final practice before MNF
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken describes the trouble Von Miller and Bradley Chubb bring to the Raiders offensive line, as well as who's questionable for Monday night's game against the Denver Broncos.
Vegas Nation: McCarron returns to practice
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports that back up quarterback AJ McCarron returned to practice on Friday following the birth of his son.
Vegas Nation: Nathan Peterman practices with Raiders
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken unveils the reaction Jon Gruden received after signing quarterback Nathan Peterman to the practice squad.
Vegas Nation Mailbag - December 19, 2018
Elaine Emerson and Ed Graney go over all burning Vegas Nation Raiders questions
Vegas Nation: Raiders prepare for potential final game in Oakland
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports on how Christmas Eve could be the final game in Oakland for the Raiders, and how Jon Gruden will handle it with himself and the players.
RJ columnist Ed Graney goes in-depth to find out if an NFL team would have success in London
While London's Cray Wanderers may be the one of the oldest football clubs in the world, could an NFL team have the same success overseas? (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal @HeidiFang)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing