By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, January 17th, 2013 at 2:34 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Running back Darren McFadden is a big part of the Raiders plans moving forward in 2013, general manager Reggie McKenzie said Thursday.
McKenzie, meeting with beat writers for the first time since Nov. 30, brushed aside the notion that McFadden could be moved entering the final season of his contract following a disappointing season.
“I’m confident Darren’s going to play his last season, regardless of what’s out there,’’ McKenzie said. “We have no decision to do anything with Darren.’’
McFadden gained 707 yards on 216 carries, averaging 3.3 yards per attempt, as the Raiders dropped to 28th in rushing after gaining more yards on the ground than any team in the NFL from 2010-2011.
The Raiders switched to a zone blocking systems under recently-fired offensive coordinator Greg Knapp after playing more gap and power power schemes under Hue Jackson.
While McKenzie said execution was more of an issue than scheme, he also said, “It’s obvious Darren is much better on certain types of plays. That goes without saying. That’s how you’ve got to do it.’’
McKenzie said coach Dennis Allen was closing in on hiring a new offensive coordinator, although he declined to give a time line. The Raiders have talked with former Rams head coach Mike Martz and McKenzie confirmed speaking with Norv Turner and Marc Trestman, both of whom now have other jobs.
Former Jacksonville quarterbacks coach Greg Olson has also been reported as a candidate.
The Raiders also will hire a special teams coordinator, a linebackers coach and an offensive line coach.
The staff leaves for the Senior Bowl Saturday, where they’ll coach the North team, with practices starting Monday.
McKenzie touched on several subjects in a 42-minute meeting with local writers. Some quick hits:
– Right guard Mike Brisiel had ankle surgery following the season. McKenzie said he played with the injury all season and that it hampered his performance. Khalif Barnes (triceps) also had surgery.
– McKenzie was pleased with the job coach Dennis Allen did during the season in terms of changing the culture of the locker room and practice sessions and setting expectations. He liked team morale and the way the team competed _ especially on defense _ during December following an awful November.
– The latest medical reports on Carson Palmer is good. McKenzie expects him to be ready for the offseason.
– McKenzie did not get into specific transactions, but hinted it would have been difficult to cut Rolando McClain during the season because of the salary cap. McClain is expected to be released when it’s more beneificial to the Raiders financial bottom line.
– All moves will be made with the long-term in line.
“We’re not trying to hurry up to win one or two games and mortgage the possibility of winning 10 more,” McKenzie said. “We’re just going to build it the right way and make good, sound decisions.”
– McKenzie said he considered Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o a first-round talent but is going to wait and see how his current story unfolds before forming any judgement regarding how will affect him in the draft.
– Defensive tackle Richard Seymour and punter Shane Lechler, both scheduled for unrestricted free agency, have not necessarily been written off, but McKenzie said, “Everything’s predicated on money. You get guys that are used to making a set amount and they’re premiere players and you don’t know what other teams are going to throw out from a contract standpoint.”
– Regarding the change at offensive coordiantor, McKenzie said of Allen: “I was proud the way he identified the issues and attacked them. He didn’t just continue to run this offense and make it work, keep this guy, keep this guy- he evaluated it, said okay, he stood up, and said okay, we’re going to make a change.”