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McKenzie wants his own coach in Oakland

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Posted Jan. 10, 2012 @ 7:36 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

From the start of training camp through the last game of the regular season, Hue Jackson always talked about how his Raiders would be bullies. They'd be physical with the other team, not intimidated by opponents and aggressive in everything they did.

On Tuesday, it was Jackson who was bullied. Not only did new Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie push Jackson around and teach him a lesson about who's boss, McKenzie took his lunch money — and job, too.

"The decision to move forward and where we are going into this new era, it's going to be a time for change," McKenzie said on Tuesday during his introductory news conference. "I felt there was a need for change at the head-coaching position, from the top. We're moving into a new era. No disrespect to Coach Jackson, but this was something I wanted to do, start anew."

The news that Jackson had been fired came as a bit of a surprise, only because teams generally don't let go of coaches who have been on the job for one year and go 8-8 in their debut season. Then again, teams don't generally give that first-year head coach the power to make trades and run the front office. That's exactly what the Raiders did last October, and Jackson potentially set the team back a few years with his all-in trade for QB Carson Palmer, which cost the team a first-round pick this spring and a first- or second-round pick next year. Oakland was already without a second-, third- or fourth-round pick in 2012 because of prior trades, though they will likely get a compensatory selection in the third round for losing CB Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency last summer. Palmer was below-average in his time as the Raiders' quarterback, and it's safe to say McKenzie would rather have those draft choices to work with than a 32-year-old signalcaller.

McKenzie's decision to let go of Jackson wasn't because of the Palmer trade, however. Although a potential power struggle may have been a reason the move was made, the primary one was cohesiveness. The Raiders for years have had one constant — owner Al Davis — working next to a revolving door of head coaches. Davis' son, Mark, who was in charge of hiring McKenzie, doesn't want that duplicated under his watch. He said during the press conference on Tuesday that he wants everyone on the same page. That meant McKenzie gets to pick the head coach, and Jackson wasn't his guy. Mark Davis said that the team's late-season slide — losing four of their last five games to miss the playoffs — had "nothing to do" with Jackson's departure.

There's plenty of speculation as to who the next Raiders head coach will be. Time will take care of that. For now, the message coming out of Oakland is no longer that the team will bully its opponents; it's that the Raiders aren't going to align themselves with anyone who doesn't see things the way that Davis and McKenzie do.

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