Wolf on Raiders: “You’re seeing life pumped back into franchise”

Ron Wolf photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers
(Photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers)

Talk of Fame Network

Ron Wolf was one of the best talent evaluators in the history of pro football, so when he speaks people listen. And when Wolf, who was named to the Hall of Fame Class of 2015, told the Talk of Fame Network’s radio broadcast how he’d fix the Oakland Raiders – a team for which he worked – we not only listened.

We were intrigued by what he said.

“I think the situation with the Raiders is not entirely their fault,” he said, “and I’m talking about finding a place to play. They need an identity. There is no greater identity than the Oakland Raiders. When you hear of the Oakland Raiders you think of one person and one person only … and that’s Al Davis

“They’ve slipped considerably. (But) I think under (general manager) Reggie McKenzie you’re starting to see life pumped back into that franchise. He solved their cap room two or three years ago. He’s had two heckuva drafts. He got a quarterback and a pressure player on defense, both of which look as if they’re going to be dominant players in a very short period of time. He’s added a running back. In that sense they’re going to be OK.

“(But) you need time. You have to develop yourself. You can’t have that switch all the time of coaching staffs. That doesn’t help anybody.”

In all fairness, Wolf recommended McKenzie when the Raiders were looking for a GM. But he knows what he’s looking at and looking for.

After years of working with the Raiders, he took over a Green Bay Packers team that won .422 percent of its games, had five winning seasons, went to the playoffs twice and won one division championships in the 24 years before he arrived. In the 23 years since, the Packers have had 19 winning seasons, 17 playoff appearances, 11 division championships and a .619 winning percentage – including the league’s second-best record during Wolf’s reign.

What’s more remarkable is that the transformation happened almost overnight. Wolf got the right coach in Mike Holmgren. He made a shrewd trade for Brett Favre. He added the biggest free agent in history in pass rusher Reggie White. And he drafted wisely, gaining a reputation as the game’s best second-day drafter by finding guys like Adam Timmerman, Donald Driver, Mark Chmura and Doug Evans – all pro Bowlers — in the later rounds.

“You just went with their ability to play the game,” he said, “and put all the other things aside (like) he’s got slow feet, he does this or he does that; he ran a 4.5 … You put all that aside and you draft football players. You get fortunate that people have allowed these guys to slip through.”

Wolf was more than fortunate. While he had Favre as his starter, he drafted Mark Brunell in the fifth round, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks in the sixth and Ty Detmer in the ninth – quarterbacks who all went on to have productive careers, with Hasselbeck starting in Super Bowl XL.

“I firmly believe that if you don’t have a quarterback you’re in a lot of trouble,” he said. “So I always tried to make sure we covered ourselves at that position. It’s the fear of when you don’t have one … because I went through that experience in 1976 and ‘77 in Tampa Bay without a quarterback, and there wasn’t one that came through the draft either one of those years that lit it up. I always made an effort to protect myself in that area.”












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  1. Zach
    February 23, 2015

    Wolf rules! Thanks

  2. Anonymous
    February 23, 2015

    yea all that and only one suprrbowl lol

  3. Mike
    February 23, 2015

    Interesting. However, Aaron Brooks and Ty Detmer had train wreck careers. Not to diminish the rest of article or Wolf’s success, but those 2 clowns were just awful.

    • February 23, 2015

      But they were drafted as backups who, if needed, could step in and win. And they did.

  4. February 23, 2015

    Wolf, thanks for the interview as a Loyal RAIDER Fan since 1987 I’ve seen rough times. I agree with you on how Reggie McKenzie cleaned up the financial mess. PEOPLE Like Del Rio and Norton, Woodson bags part of the coaching staff has got me becoming optimistic. I would like Wolf’s take on Amari Cooper ?

  5. Dim Summ
    February 24, 2015

    What about the hiring of Dennis Allen, and signing Matt Flynn & Schaub? Also, the almost monumental mistake of signing that offensive lineman from the Rams last year? Let us not please forget going from back to back 8-8 seasons to horrible 4-12 [twice] and 3-11 seasons and the 16 game losing streak, all under ‘REGGIE’ & that clown Allen. He’s made so many mistakes that it should be a crime that he is still the GM. The Raiders had a good draft last year, but in no way should he be credited with turning anything around.

    Mark Davis hired Jack Del Rio, and I am predicting that hiring will eventually turn our Raiders around more than anything ‘Reggie’ has done or will do.


    • Anonymous
      February 24, 2015

      The 8=8 mediocte seasons were never going to get any better until we drafted better and got the cap in order. RM has done that. Its not easy finding a long term qb and I believe he got it right now wit/ Carr. What did Al do in the lat decade other than destroy the team. Love Al but his time was done and his last ten years of failures prove this.

  6. Charles F Larson
    February 24, 2015

    I`m happy for Ron Wolf making the H.O.F.,a well-deserved honor. But he`s a shell of his younger self as an evaluator, my Raider “Drafts” I`ve discussed here and in S&BI the past 3 years beat Reggie McKenzie`s drafts badly.R.M. earned a F grade each of the past 3 years for free agency and overall,his 2012 and 2013 Drafts also earned F grades from me and his 2014 Draft earned a C from me. I beat him because i`m the best “NFL GM”. Wolf is just defending his recommended guy, but he`s been a total disaster, and anyone could`ve fixed the salary-cap situation,some problems R.M. created.

  7. February 24, 2015

    Yes Reggie had a couple of bad season’s record wise but he has drafted well and learned along the way. Go Raiders

  8. Robert
    February 25, 2015

    Who is Charles Larson? The Raiders draft last year was an “A”. how he rated them a “C” is just crazy. People like that shouldnt be allowed to post comments like his.

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