By Steve Corkran
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 at 4:58 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The popular perception is that the Raiders are akin to an expansion team with all the purging of veteran, high-priced players the past two offseasons. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said he has a different slant on his team clearly in the midst of a major overhaul.
“We’re trying to compete now,” McKenzie said Tuesday in a news conference with Bay Area media in Alameda. “How does that result will depend on the players’ performance on the field, but we’re trying to add players that can help this team win, help this team compete.
We’re going into this season to win ball games. Now, you can call it expansion, it’s a lot of different faces, I agree with that. But, to say that we’re just going to take our lumps and play ball, that’s not the goal here. The goal here is to compete each and every week and win games.”
For now, it appears as if Matt Flynn will be the quarterback of the team that McKenzie expects to do more than show up and take its lumps until more help arrives.
McKenzie said Flynn will enter the organized team activities as the No. 1 quarterback. However, Flynn is going to have to hold on to that distinction throughout training camp through strong play, for he is going to be pushed by third-year player Terrelle Pryor and whoever else the Raiders draft or sign in the coming days or weeks.
“As we begin the OTA period, we’re goin to begin with Matt Flynn,” McKenzie said. “Now, the quarterback who will be on the roster from that point on, they will all compete. So, and like I said, guys, every position, it’s all about getting players that can play and compete.”
McKenzie learned a thing or two about Flynn from their four years together in Green Bay, when Flynn backed up Aaron Rodgers — Flynn started only two games — and McKenzie worked in the personnel department under Ted Thompson.
During that time, McKenzie got a pretty good feel for what Flynn is about as a person and a player, beginning when McKenzie scouted Flynn at Louisiana State.
“Two things that I feel are important, and that’s presence as far as leadership and how to move a team down the field and knowing how to do it,” McKenzie said. “He has all the intangibles. He can play the position. He can throw the ball and he’s going to be a solid quarterback.
“Now, how good can he be? We’ll figure that out but he’s got a chance to be a good, solid quarterback. He hasn’t played a lot of games, so that’s what’s ahead of him is to see what’s ahead of him. He’ll get in here, compete, and try to show his team and coaches if he can play. The coaching staff probably doesn’t know. I’m probably the guy who knows him best, and I feel good that he can play the position.”
With so much turnover on the roster, McKenzie said players are spending just as much time getting to know the guys next to them in the locker room.
Before long, that will sort itself out and the Raiders will field a close, talented team. McKenzie said he is hopeful that manifests itself sooner rather than later.
“It started when I got here, to be honest with you, what I had to do with the roster,” McKenzie said of the team reflecting his philosophy. “So, when do you see it start its transformation? Hopefully this season. That’s my hope. So you’ve got a good offseason and another draft and things that come into place. You’ve got a new coaching staff, as far as four coaches that we swapped out. So, hopefully, it begins to show this year.”