ORLANDO, Fla. – Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is a popular guy, widely respected among players and in NFL circles. The same can be said for his coordinators and many position coaches.
General manager Reggie McKenzie understands that. He used those assets to help recruit free agents to Oakland.
He also remains in close communication with those designing new Raiders schemes. Jon Gruden’s in charge of the offense, while coordinator Paul Guenther will install a new defense.
McKenzie is focused on getting guys they want, guys who will fit well within new schemes.
“One thing about Gruden is that I know exactly what he wants, which is great for me,” McKenzie said Monday in a meeting with Raiders beat writers at the NFL owners meetings. “I know exactly what is needed for his (offensive) system. It’s the same with (defensive coordinator Paul Guenther). I know exactly what kind of players they want at each position. That makes my job a lot easier, instead of trying to figure out what works best."
Raiders owner Mark Davis told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday that McKenzie plays a different role with Gruden in the mix, and that the head coach’s vision for the team is most important.
“That vision, and that direction is going to be helpful to Reggie more so than not,” Davis said. “I think they’ll work together very well.”
McKenzie agrees. He praised the level of communication with Gruden and his assistants and believes they executed an aggressive free-agency plan well working together.
“The communication is constant, and I’m not just talking about Coach Gruden,” McKenzie said. “I’m talking about the entire staff. It’s well-received.”
The Raiders signed 20 guys in free agency, with 16 new faces and four returners thus far, at least after Reggie Nelson’s deal becomes official in the coming days. McKenzie used the coaching staff to help close deals, and get guys they coveted.
“It’s a team effort, I’m telling you,” McKenzie said. “The good part about it, is that players want to come. Players want to be coached by our guys. When we can get coaches heavily involved in communicating with those guys and when we get those guys in the building, our coaches did a great job recruiting those (free-agent signings).”