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The Curious Case of Josh McDaniels and the 2022 Las Vegas Raiders

After major offseason spending, it already looks like a lost year for the Silver and Black. Let’s talk about how they can start to turn things around.

Through nine games this season, it is increasingly evident that the Las Vegas Raiders were more than just a Davante Adams-type player away from becoming a Super Bowl contender.

They’re a bit of a mess to dissect, but it’s likely that they’ve officially hit rock bottom after a loss at the hands of the unraveling Indianapolis Colts. The Vegas boys are 2-7, and five of their final eight games are against teams currently above .500 β€” but as we saw in Week 10, the opponents might not matter.

Derek Carr was in tears after Sunday’s game. Josh McDaniels continues to constitute a question mark at head coach. Spending $566 million in player contracts over the offseason simply has not produced results.

The Raiders just aren’t a good football team right now, and when the talent cupboard is far from bare, it’s hard to avoid looking long and hard about the coaching.

“[We] just don’t got enough guys that are fully bought into [him] right now,” Adams said when asked about McDaniels’ message to the team. “I think people like the idea, but when it’s time to execute, it don’t turn out that way.”

There’s really no excuse for the Raiders to be the second-worst team in the NFL by record given all the talent they have and all the money they spent to secure it. When this is the case, it would be wrong not to cast a critical eye at the leadership that built the foundation of this team: specifically, McDaniels, former general manager Mike Mayock, and owner Mark Davis.

Indeed, it would be easy to scapegoat Carr due to his highly visible status as starting quarterback, but he isn’t the root cause of what ails the Silver and Black. And spoiler alert: Davis ain’t going anywhere.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what’s gone wrong and establish what this team needs to due to begin pulling things back in a positive direction.

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The State of Josh McDaniels

The Josh McDaniels hire wasn’t heralded as a slam dunk despite his long runs of success as offensive coordinator in New England; he was notorious in his two years as Denver’s head coach, finishing with an 11-17 record in fewer than two full seasons. In Las Vegas, he’s got a team with no identity on either side of the ball despite the organization spending a half-billion dollars this offseason on Adams, Carr, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, and Maxx Crosby.

Unfortunately, they don’t have much to show for it offensively:

  • Total yards per game: 335.1 (17th)
  • Pass yards per game: 227.8 (12th)
  • Rush yards per game: 106.6 (24th)
  • Points per game: 22.6 (T-15th)

Defensively, things are even less attractive:

  • Takeaways: 6 (32nd)
  • Yards allowed per game: 376.1 (28th)
  • Pass yards allowed per game: 250 (26th)
  • Rush yards allowed per game: 126.1 (21st)
  • Points allowed per game: 25.3 (29th)

So, why McDaniels, you ask? Raiders GM Dave Ziegler hired McDaniels after the two worked together in Denver. At that time, Ziegler served as a player personnel assistant in 2010, in addition to time with the Patriots from 2013 to 2021 in various personnel roles.

But there’s no hot seat, apparently: β€œI like Josh. I think he’s doing a fantastic job,” owner Mark Davis said. “We did an exhaustive search and found the person we believe is going to bring the Raiders to greatness.” McDaniels is in the first year of a four-year contract.

Perhaps they should have kept things simple and stayed with former interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, who coached the final 12 games in 2021 following the resignation of Jon Gruden, leading the team to a 7-5 finish in that span. The Raiders posted a 10-7 record overall and made their first postseason appearance since 2016. He received votes for both the NFL Coach of the Year and the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year from The Associated Press.

Today, Bisaccia is in the mix for a Wild Card playoff spot as special teams coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. He’s not walking through that door.

What About Mike Mayock?

Mike Mayock wasn’t around to oversee the hiring of Josh McDaniels, but his tenure in Vegas alongside Gruden will go down as one of the more unfortunate eras the franchise has experienced. Just take a look at how poor he was in handling draft picks during his time at the helm, the effects of which are still being felt by Ziegler and Co. today:

Can the Raiders Be Fixed?

They certainly are — just not this year. They have so much talent on the books, which keeps their championship window open for at least 2-3 more years. But if they’re going to get there, they need a head coach worthy of the same sort of investment the team has placed in on-field stars like Adams, Waller, and Crosby. Right now, as we saw during his time in Denver, McDaniels hasn’t proven he’s that guy.

With eight regular season games still remaining in 2022, he still can — but no matter what happens down the stretch, don’t expect Mark Davis to accept any excuses about Year One jitters. After all, some of the league’s top teams this season so far are led by not just first-year head coaches, but first-time head coaches:

Sometimes, searching within is the best option when you’re revamping a team, and while Bisaccia wasn’t perfect, but players responded to him well, and besides, he had noticeably less talent at his disposal than Josh McDaniels does now in 2022, to say nothing of the continuity, stability, and merit he brought with him.

Suffice to say that it’s been a disappointing season in Sin City. Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow have both been in and out of the lineup with injuries, sure, but that ultimately isn’t why this team losing.

Coaching matters. Leadership matters. The Raiders don’t seem to have either of those amid their nightmarish season, and while the proverbial window isn’t entirely locked shut, they’re running lower and lower on time to prove they can keep it propped open.

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.