Our intention is to neither criticize nor endorse General Manager Reggie McKenzie. As he enters his fourth season as Raider GM, we want to address those who point to his success with the Green Bay Packers. “More time”. After four years of deconstruction and rebuilding we’re still hearing the call for patience. Is “more time” a moniker of complacency or justified faith in Reggie McKenzie?
There are misconceptions about the “Green Bay Way”. Without question, Ron Wolf is the architect of modern Packer success. He joined the Packers at the end of the 1991 season. Green Bay was 4-12 that year. In a twenty year span (1972 to 1991), the Packers had only 4 winning seasons. Adding insult to injury, coaches and players would joke that Green Bay was the Gulag of the NFL. No one wanted to play there. Sound familiar?
Taking half a decade to rebuild the Packers was never a consideration. Wolf wanted to win right away. Yes, he relied heavily on the draft but he was also aggressive during the offseason. He traded a first round pick for a troublesome backup named Brett Favre and signed Hall of Famer Reggie White. It took the Packers two years to make the playoffs (1993) and five years to win the Super Bowl (1996).
A misconception is Green Bay’s success has come exclusively through the draft and that just isn’t the case. Yes, Green Bay is one of the top NFL teams in terms of home grown talent, but it’s also factual that some of the most important players in modern Packer success have come via trades and free agency—Brett Favre, Reggie White, Frank Winters, Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Ahman Green, Charles Woodson, and Julius Peppers, just to name a few. Sometimes you have to pull the trigger. It took guts and confidence to trade a first round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for Brett Favre, who admittedly at the time was partying his way out of the NFL. And Reggie White—Green Bay was not even in consideration when he made the decision to leave Philadelphia. Yet Ron Wolf sold him on the Packers. He closed the deal and won a Super Bowl because of it.
This is the fourth year for McKenzie and the Raiders—progress must be made in the win column. As fans, there is no reason we should be eternally patient. Incidentally, the Patriots won all of 31 games in the six years preceding a 1993 shakeup. Four years later, Bill Parcells had New England in the Super Bowl (1996). There needs to be a sense of urgency. If we don’t make the playoffs in 2016, we have to face reality and acknowledge the truth. Our players and coaches are projecting a “win now” attitude. It’s time everyone else does the same. Smart, bold, and aggressive—Raider football.