Consigned to History as the Raiders fire McDaniels

By Peter Mann

The Josh McDaniels era at the Mark Davis-owned Las Vegas Raiders is over, going up in smoke on Halloween 2023, following just a season-and-a-half (9-16, .360 avg.) at the helm. 

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A stalwart of Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots franchise, McDaniels held roles at Gillette Stadium between 2001 and 2008, and again from 2012 to 2021, collecting some six, Super Bowl championships (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, and LII) along the way. 

His record with the Raiders however, he being the seventh, interim or other, of the franchise since Mark Davis took over ownership following the passing of his father, the legendary Al Davis, in October 2011, is actually worse than his only other HC post. 

Back in 2009-10, McDaniels led the Denver Broncos for two full seasons, posting an 11-17 record before being fired the day after the conclusion of the 2010 regular season, they having gone from 8-8 and finishing second in the West, to a 3-9 franchise. 

His joining the Raiders however, at the end of January 2022, replacing Jon ‘Chucky’ Gruden, was supposed to usher in the dawning of a new era for the Silver & Black, his first victory being a 32-23 success over his former employers.  

By the time they went into that Broncos game though, the Raiders were already 0-3, suffering early season losses to the Los Angeles Chargers (24-19), Arizona Cardinals (29-23 OT), and Tennessee Titans (24-22); narrow defeats, but defeats all the same. 

The 32-23 victory over the Broncos however, in an AFC West battle, silenced some of the doubters (until the Kansas City Chiefs after the bye week) as Josh Jacobs (2 TDs 144-yards), and Amik Robertson, alongside 4 FGs from Daniel Carlson, helped the Raiders on their way. 

The Chiefs’ loss, this by a point (30-29), was succeeded by a 38-20 win over the Houston Texans as the Raiders moved 2-4 after week seven, but another, three-match losing streak, followed, the Raiders crashing to defeats against New Orleans Saints (an embarrassing, 24-0 whitewash), Jacksonville Jaguars (27-20), and Indianapolis Colts (25-20), in quick succession. 

Surprisingly they dusted themselves down and re-grouped for the return with the Broncos, taking a 22-16 OT win at Mile High, Derek Carr 2TDs, 307 yards, Davante Adams 2 TDs, 141 yards, the two combining with the 1:36 OT score, for 35 yards, for the win. 

That sparked a three-game winning streak as the Raiders then saw off the Seattle Seahawks (40-34 OT), and Los Angeles Chargers (27-20) to move to 5-7 in early December; a loss to the Los Angeles Rams (17-16) and a shock victory over the New England Patriots (30-24), saw the Raiders head into the closing weeks of the 2022 season 6-8 – the Pats win though was as good as it got. 

Another three defeats, this time to Pittsburgh Steelers (13-10), San Francisco 49ers (37-34 OT), and Kansas City Chiefs (31-13) saw McDaniels’ Raiders limp over the line with a 6-11 record, and finished bottom of the AFC West – even harder for the Raider Nation to stomach was that the Andy Reid-Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs went all the way to defeat Philadelphia Eagles (38-35) in the Super Bowl. 

With 2022 in the rearview mirror, the off-season for 2023 was perhaps, full of promise for McDaniels et al, and, with Derek Carr departing for New Orleans Saints, Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers) replacing him at QB (Aiden O’Connell drafted for Purdue as back-up), a season-opening success, against the Broncos no less, added to the hype. 

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Carr was supposed to be the one to lead the Raiders to success, then Garoppolo became the hand-picked favourite for McDaniels and company (after the Raiders, in 2022, had signed Carr to a $121.5 million, three-year contract extension, and was promptly benched by the end of the year) with the then Raiders HC seemingly unwilling to even consider McConnell.  

Two poor drafts as well, in 2022 and 2023, certainly didn’t help matters with Zamir White (RB), Neil Farrell (DT), and Dylan Parham (G) in the former, and of Michael Mayer (TE), Jakorian Bennett (CB), Aidan O’Connell (QB), Christopher Smith (S) and Tyree Wilson (DE), among others, in the latter – it’ll be interesting to see what happens moving forward.  

That victory, 17-16, coupled with an opening day defeat for the Chiefs, coincidentally against the Detroit Lions, 21-20), brought about a little, renewed optimism. 

Five defeats in the next seven, finishing with a 26-14 collapse against the Lions, spelled the end for both McDaniels and the Raiders GM Dave Zeigler, the duo paying the ultimate price for what is, failure.  

Is there time to turn things around – possibly, but only just. 

The Raiders are a 3-5 franchise at present, and perhaps a little lucky that their next two outings are, not only at their Allegiant Stadium home, but against the two New York franchises – the Giants are 2-6 in the NFC East, and the Jets are 4-3 in the AFC East. 

After that, and the end of November, is when things will get tough, and the Raiders, they need to be ready and have come through NY unscathed – why, well 19 November will see them at Hard Rock against the Miami Dolphins, followed by a divisional dust-up, and it will be, back home on 26 November, with the Chiefs. 

Interim HC, Antonio Pierce, can either see disaster on the horizon, or head to Miami 5-5, he needs to aim for the latter, then hope for the best, as they look to salvage something, anything, from the season as a whole. 

A plus side for Josh McDaniels perhaps, but certainly not the Raiders, is that, when he took the HC post back in January last year, he signed a six-year contract with the Silver & Black; with four full years still left on that, the Raiders are obligated to still honour the payments. 

Following his two spells in the AFC West, McDaniels’ record is 20-33 (.377 avg) having finished his Raiders tenure 9-16 overall and defeats in his last two outings, and it’s those with which he’ll be remembered. 

Image Feature Credit: Sports Illustrated