Hue Jackson behaved in 2011 like a man who wasn't thinking long term. He knew he might have to make the playoffs to keep his job as coach with a new power structure arriving in Oakland, so he went all-in.
It didn't work. The Raiders missed the playoffs despite giving up a first-round pick and a conditional second-round selection for Carson Palmer. Jackson was canned, and new general manager Reggie McKenzie inherited a team with no high draft picks and even less salary-cap space.
The Raiders have widely been derided for the Palmer move. It's hard to imagine a methodical personnel man like McKenzie making such a maneuver, but he insists he has no problem with how things went down last season in Oakland.
"You can beat that doggone story 'til it's worn out," McKenzie told Peter King in this week's Monday Morning Quarterback. "But I know this: We've got a quarterback we think can win the division and take us to the playoffs. Losing a one and a two doesn't bother me one bit."
McKenzie is wholeheartedly supporting Palmer because he doesn't have a choice. What else can he really say? McKenzie can't admit the Raiders gave up too much for a player who too often looks like a league-average starting quarterback. This is the hand McKenzie was dealt. We highly doubt he would have made the same trade.
"Never thought, 'Woe is me,' " McKenzie said about taking the job in Oakland. "I just figured, 'We'll find players.' "
McKenzie has done a nice job thus far making tough decisions and signing some low-cost free agents. His ability to find players, however, is less important this season than Palmer's ability to prove he was worthy of such a big investment.