Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer 13d

Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie sounds off on underachieving season

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- At just 4-5 entering their bye weekend, the Oakland Raiders are one of the most -- if not the most -- underachieving teams in the NFL.

Coming off last season’s 12-4 record and the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2002, the Raiders entered this year a sexy pick to upend the New England Patriots in the AFC and make a Super Bowl run. Especially with quarterback Derek Carr recovered from his broken right leg, the addition of running back Marshawn Lynch to go with a dominant offensive line and a defense purportedly strengthened by a defense-heavy draft.

But Carr has looked uncomfortable in the pocket and suffered a broken bone in his back on a sack, Lynch has not flashed nearly enough, the O-line has lost too many battles and the Raiders have gotten next to nothing out of their first two draft picks.

With this as a backdrop, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie spoke with members of the Bay Area media in a roundtable setting on Thursday and gave a sort of state of the franchise meeting. Here are some highlights:

On the Raiders’ current standing, per Raiders.com: “Obviously, you would like to be more in the win column, for sure, but our record is what it is, and our play is what it is, so we’ll focus on getting better and winning the next game. That’s where we are.”

On if he plans on signing reigning NFL defensive player of the year Khalil Mack to a contract extension this offseason: “I anticipate, yes, I do. Hopefully, his agent feels the same.”

On if middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman, signed last month after being released by the San Francisco 49ers, might figure into the Raiders’ future: “Yes, he could be. ... Needless to say, his experience, and the way he plays; I’m talking about from an instincts and savvy standpoint, anytime you come two years off an injury, it’s always going to be better the next year, so that’s not going to be a deterrent. But he can still play."

On cornerback TJ Carrie stepping up on defense in his contract year: “He's been the glue. He's been there. He's been available. He's kind of held it together playing outside and inside. He's done a lot of things for us, and he’s shown up, and definitely played a lot more this year than he’s probably ever played, so that’s different for him, trying to get his body ready for it week to week. He’s been really solid for us.”

On first-round pick Gareon Conley, a badly needed cornerback who has been limited to two games since injuring his right shin in minicamp: “Right now, we’ll see what’s happening after we come back from the weekend, and see if he can do anything early in the week, and then we’ll make our determination from there. ... People’s bodies are different. When you have those type of injuries, you wait and see if it can heal and feel better and [be] good enough to play. Early in the season, he was feeling better, and then we had a setback. We’re trying to give it some time to calm down, and see if he can play, so we’ll see what’s happening over the weekend, and early in the week, and see what he can do. If he can’t go, then he can’t go. We’re just going to have to move on, but we’re going to give him every opportunity to see if he can do it.”

On if place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, might be activated off injured reserve, with Giorgio Tavecchio doing more than an adequate job in his stead: “You don’t have to rush him back, that’s for sure. Giorgio’s done a great job. He’s really stepped up to the plate, and has been kicking well, so the need to bring another guy in here is not there, but Seabass is moving forward with his progress, and I think he will be ready to roll here shortly, if needed. Now, right now, there’s no need to rush anything.”

On reports that the Raiders' offensive line allowed Carr to be hit because he did not kneel with the unit during the national anthem at Washington: “Comical.”

On the Raiders’ 27-10 loss at Washington in prime time in Week 3, per the Bay Area Newspaper Group: “I don’t know about the confidence, but it shook ’em. It shook all of us. It shook us enough so that everybody had to look in the mirror and say let’s get this thing going. This is not who we are. We had to regroup. But it was a punch in the gut.”

On Lynch running on the field and getting a one-game suspension after making contact with an official against the Kansas City Chiefs: “Marshawn knows what he can and can’t do. And his mindset was to get out there and felt like he had to do something. That’s the way he took it. Did I talk to him? Yeah, I talked to him, and he understands the whole issue. It’s a non-issue moving forward.”

On Lynch not getting going with the running game behind the most expensive offensive line in NFL history: “I just think the guys need to continue to sustain their blocks. I mean, a runner is a runner, to try and get a feel for the guys in front of him. We’ve got to block better. We’ve got to run better. We’ve just got to get better all the way around.”

On first-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing: "I’m not going to sit here and evaluate coordinators with you guys. But it’s obvious we need to get better offensively and score some points and move the football and help the defense out. And vice versa, the defense has to get the ball back for our offense. We have to continue to work together in every facet of our game, starting versus New England.”

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