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McKenzie: Raiders 'just want a winner' in their next coach

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Reggie McKenzie says he follows his gut on a lot of decisions. One of his first as the Oakland Raiders' general manager was to fire coach Hue Jackson.

When McKenzie was introduced Tuesday at his new position, in which he will make all football-related decisions for the Raiders, he cited the need for change.

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"No. 1, I want my guy," McKenzie told the assembled media. "Everything is based on performance, No. 1. I go with my gut a lot. When it's time to make the final call, my gut is going to tell me one thing."

McKenzie said he didn't have the authority to fire Jackson before he signed his contract Tuesday, and he never gave the coach an indication of his thinking. Pressed on the reasons why he fired Jackson, McKenzie cited "a need for change coming from the top" and a new start with a coach of his choosing.

"This decision centered around my wanting to bring my own guy in," McKenzie said. "That's the main point. Now, if Hue would have finished 7-0 down the stretch and made the playoffs, of course that would have played a role.

"(Raiders owner) Mark (Davis) was OK with that. Period. That's what we want."

Jackson disagreed with McKenzie's assessment, telling Yahoo! Sports he believed Davis made the call.

The move marks a rapid fall for Jackson, who was in charge of personnel decisions and coaching after owner Al Davis died of heart failure in October. Jackson orchestrated the trade for quarterback Carson Palmer after starter Jason Campbell broke his collarbone, costing the Raiders a 2012 first-round draft pick and a conditional 2013 second-rounder. After starting the season 7-4, the Raiders lost four of their final five games to mark their ninth consecutive season without a winning record or a playoff berth.

"There comes a time when change is necessary," McKenzie said. "For the Raiders, the time is now. The Raiders' organization, with respect and deference for all its tradition and history, is about to embark on a new era."

Mark Davis, Al's son, made the decision to bring in McKenzie last week and gave him the authority over the coaching staff. Davis said McKenzie will decide on the new coach and the personnel decisions, with the coach ultimately reporting to the GM. McKenzie said the new coach will have the authority to hire his own staff.

The new framework is a major change from how the organization was previously run. Al Davis made all the major decisions when he was in charge of the team, with many of those now falling to McKenzie as Mark Davis focuses on finding a new stadium and other off-the-field issues.

As he turns to the coaching search, McKenzie said he has a short list of candidates, but the offensive or defensive background of a coach will not influence the choice, and head-coaching experience isn't a prerequisite.

"We just want a winner, a guy that who we feel can lead this team into a new era," McKenzie said.

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported that numerous league sources expect Packers assistant coach Winston Moss, whom McKenzie knows from his Green Bay days, to be a leading candidate to replace Jackson. The Raiders would have to wait until the Packers are eliminated from the playoffs to interview Moss.

"I would like sooner than better, but if I have to wait, I'll wait," McKenzie said on his coaching search. "I'll work my tail off to hire the best fit. That will start now. However long it takes, that's how long it will take. We want the right guy."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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