KTNV (LAS VEGAS) — The Las Vegas Raiders are in seach of a new general manager and head coach. ESPN's Jason Fitz joined Tina Nguyen to discuss the importance of this next hire for the Raiders and why the new general manager will have to handle more than perfecting a roster.
Tina Nguyen: Well, Jason, first off, the Raiders are fresh off a 10 win season. They made it to the playoffs, but right now they're looking for a head coach and a GM. Give us a feel as to where this organization is at right now?
Jason Fitz: I think this is the most important hire that Mark Davis has ever made and will ever make in his tenure as owner of the Raiders simply because this is a new city. This is a new identity. It's a new opportunity. When you think about who the Raiders are trying to become, it's not just being a great product for the Raiders on the field. It's also sort of a great relationship with the city of Las Vegas. And when you talk about a new team, which is what the Raiders are to Vegas, you've got to have foundational elements. I think a coach is a huge part of that, and Gruden came in with a name obviously at the time. So, the question is going to become does Mark Davis want to bring in somebody that he could put on billboards that will help keep keep the interest high? Or does he want to bring in the best football mind no matter what the level of exposure is to that person? It's a very different conversation, and he has a real opportunity to make a statement as an owner right now.
Nguyen: I want to hear you expand on that a little bit more. I mean, a big part of this is the Raiders are so new to Las Vegas and Vegas is that young professional sports town. How much pressure is there on Mark Davis to get these two hires right, and what kind of tone that does that set?
Fitz: I think the pressure is incredibly high. Also because of the tremendous success of the Golden Knights. I learned this living in Nashville. When I moved to Nashville, the Tennessee Titans had just become a franchise, and they went to the Superbowl right away. Everybody was excited, then they got really bad. And the problem is when they got bad, they hadn't built a relationship with the city yet. So it's sort of floundered for a very long time, you have to have that core fanaticism and passion that comes from feeling like the city loves the team as much as the team loves the city. And in order to do that, you need to get out in the streets and become involved in the community. But if you're winning football games, while it happens, that's a huge help to this. So, the Raiders aren't in a spot where they can take a step back, because that could result in less interest.
Nguyen: Where would you say this team is at in terms of going into a rebuild? Or are they trying to build off the talent they have? Where are they at from that perspective, because it doesn't feel like a rebuild.
Fitz: This is not a rebuild, the Raiders are not in rebuild mode at all. In fact, there's way too much talent on this roster to think of it in rebuild standing. So there are real questions about what they want to do in the future with Derek Carr. Does Derek Carr want to come back to the Raiders? They need to figure that path out. But we put so much emphasis on the quarterback. We forget about the rest of the football team. There is young talent all over this roster and guys that are worth building around guys that are going to be platforms for the League for the next several years. I think whoever comes in inherits a team that's far better than many of the teams that have been inherited in the past and 10 wins was not an accident. This is a playoff caliber football roster.