McKenzie addresses the Raiders' season

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie sat down for an end-of-the season meeting with six reporters who cover the team regularly at the team’s compound on Thursday.

Among the many topics discussed in his first public comments since November were his thoughts on how last year’s 4-12 team was different from the previous season under coach Dennis Allen, which of his own free agents he would like to retain, how the coming $60-plus million in cap space brings a dual sense of urgency and excitement and his evaluations of the quarterbacks.

McKenzie also said he was finalizing a contract with special teams coach Bobby April.

“At the beginning of the season I thought we started off pretty good from the standpoint of how competitive we were from beginning to end,” McKenzie said.

“We had lapses in some of those games at different points where it could have turned out, a different outcome, so we were competitive I felt in the first half of the season and it faltered during the end, a couple of games got out of hand but other than that, I thought we played better ... compared to last year.

“It was a different 4-12 team, we ran the ball better. As far as being 4-12, the record is what it is. We’ve got to find a way to win some of those close games, we’ve got to close them out some kind of way, and we'll work to upgrade wherever we have to to get that done.”

And yes, as Year 1 of the Raiders “reconstruction” begins in earnest, after two years of “deconstruction,” McKenzie’s goal is the playoffs in 2014.

“Whether it’s good or not, that’s my expectations,” he said. “I want to be top 12 and get to the playoffs, then it’s a different season. Whether it’s the sixth seed or the No. 1 seed. I’ve been both, we won the Super Bowl in Green Bay as a six seed. If we can get in, now it’s all about the Super Bowl and trying to get there.

“The expectation is winning and getting into the playoffs to have that opportunity to play in the Super Bowl.”

Check back as we hit on specific topics ...