The nooses around the necks of Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen are getting tighter. And they’re undoubtedly feeling it. The directive from Mark Davis is perfectly clear — a third straight subpar campaign will not be tolerated. Another miserable showing in 2014 will, without a doubt, bring the McKenzie/Allen era in Oakland to a swift end. If they want to keep their jobs, they need to put the pieces in place to win now. Which makes their heavy flirtation with Texas A&M‘s Johnny Manziel all the more perplexing, and to many fans, all the more frustrating.
The offensive unit, from the line to the QB to the receiving corps, has been significantly upgraded this offseason. But the Raiders are still in dire need of a dynamic No. 1 receiver who can stretch the field — and defenses along with him. They still need a playmaker who can give the offense that spark they’ve been missing since Tim Brown wore the Silver and Black. And somebody like Clemson‘s Sammy Watkins or A&M’s Mike Evans would most certainly fit that bill.
With new acquisition Matt Schaub having already been named the team’s starting quarterback for at least this season, if not the next three or four as Allen claims he’ll be, using the fifth pick in the draft on Manziel makes absolutely zero sense. Not when the need to win is as immediate as it is right now for McKenzie, Allen and the Raiders. McKenzie needs to use that fifth pick on a playmaker and somebody who can step in and contribute immediately — not on somebody who will be doing little more than holding a clipboard for the foreseeable future.
The Raiders have spent a considerable amount of time and money overhauling the franchise this offseason. McKenzie has brought in a number of high character guys and veteran leaders who still have plenty of gas left in the tank and will help change the culture of losing that’s become endemic in Oakland. He’s also — perhaps, wisely — avoided players who are not necessarily on board with his own vision for the team, players not necessarily down with the “blue collar, team first” attitude he’s attempting to instill. McKenzie has brought in players like Schaub, Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Maurice Jones-Drew, James Jones, Antonio Smith and Tarell Brown, among others, because these are players who embody his vision. They are players who can step in immediately and have a positive, productive impact both on the field and on the organization.
The Raider faithful can hope that McKenzie’s interest in Manziel, and his two-day visit with the team, is nothing more than due diligence or simply just a smokescreen to mask their intended draft target. Burning the fifth pick on a player who can’t contribute right now and can’t help the team win immediately would be utter madness. McKenzie and Allen are fighting for their jobs this season, and Johnny Football isn’t going to help them with that in the least. The Raiders need to “Just win — NOW — baby” otherwise, they’ll be looking for a new GM and head coach next season.