Raiders

Aspuria’s Assertions: The Patriot Way? Nah, it’s the Josh McDaniels Way in Vegas

New Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels learned some hard ass lessons during his initial stint as a head coach with the Denver Broncos. From being an iron-willed dictator to cheating, he failed beyond his wildest expectations of failure during his time on the job from 2009 to 2010.

He tried to be what he couldn’t: Bill Belichick. The ice-cold autocrat that is the face that runs the place in New England. Many from the New England Patriots coaching tree attempt to do the same. And many face planted, comically or horrifically — in some cases, both. 

But credit McDaniels for being mature enough to admit he wasn’t cut out for the head honcho gig back then, due in large part to his attempt to mimic Bill the Butcher. In order to solve a problem, you must admit there is one first. And good on Joshy Poo for doing so. 

McDaniels isn’t trying to be Belichick with the Raiders

“I’m not Bill [Belichick] and I can’t be,” McDaniels said during his media session after the Raiders OTA session last Thursday. “It’s hard for anybody to leave there and try to replicate everything that happens there. 

“I’m just going to try to be myself and hopefully I can be a good leader for our team.”

No more mimicking; no more parlor tricks for McDaniels. All that’s left is proving. Prove he has indeed grown and matured as a coach and show he’s learned the nuances of interpersonal relationships with his players — instead of ostracizing them. Prove he can propel the Raiders to a Lombardi Trophy — something the team has failed to achieve since Super Bowl XVIII back in 1983.

What works in McDaniels’ favor is this: He was under the wing of Belichick for 13 seasons as offensive coordinator and chief play caller. His prowess on offense combined with Bill the Butcher’s genius on defense to propel the Patriots to Lombardi Trophies. As McDaniels openly stated, he is not Belichick, however. Many have tried. And many have failed. Belichick’s coaching style isn’t for everyone and the main reason it works for Belichick is it’s backed by earned and maintained reverence. That was not something McDaniels had when he tried to rule with an iron fist in Denver. 

McDaniels learned from his mistakes with the Denver Broncos

This go-around, McDaniels is allowing the staff he built, and a roster tinkered by longtime friend and general manager Dave Ziegler to establish the new Raiders culture. He didn’t walk into the desert with chest puffed out and the my-way-or-the-highway bravado. Cock of the walk McDaniels was not. 

“I’ve been looking forward to an opportunity like this for a couple years now and I’m so blessed to have the staff that we have and the group that we have working, and the support staff that we have around me,” McDaniels noted. “They make my job easy. I’m just trying to keep us on schedule and on time and those kinds of things, but I couldn’t say enough things about the staff here.

“The strength and conditioning guys, the trainers, the equipment people that make this thing go – they do a tremendous job. Then our coaching staff is doing a great job. They’re here real early, they’re here late at night making sure all the information is prepared. I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I feel like it’s slowed down for me, for sure. Doesn’t mean anything at this point in time of the year, doesn’t have any bearing on what’s going to happen down the road, but definitely feel a comfort level now in terms of understanding what my role is and how to do it better.”

McDaniels borrowing from the Patriots organization

McDaniels brought in familiar faces from New England as assistant coaches to support him in the desert. Ziegler wheeled and dealed and not only brought in a true No. 1 wide receiver to Las Vegas in Davante Adams, but a pass rush terror in Chandler Jones. 

There’s work that must be done on both sides of the ball, no doubt. But McDaniels and Ziegler have put themselves in the best possible position to succeed. 

And again, McDaniels reiterated his new approach for head honcho 2.0. 

“I think we have a good thing going in terms of the direction that we’ve started things in,” said McDaniels. “The football part of it and the belief in how to win and some of the strategy and those kinds of things, very much what I know. But the interpersonal interactions each day, the flow of the day, some of those other things that you could choose to copy if you wanted to – we have a lot of great people, like I said, and so being able to give them their responsibilities, they know what their roles are and let them go do their jobs is really important for me.”

“It’s really important for them to know that I support them and I’m just here to be a resource and try to help them if I can. If I can’t, then I’m going to learn from them. It’s been great in terms of just trying to put that into motion here. I think the players and coaches know it’s not going to be that way.”

The McDaniels Way will not be the Bill Belichick way. Excellent.

We’ll see very much how McDaniels operates this season. Dude is going to forge his own path and we’ll get to see it all — for better or worse. It’s easy for coaches to operate when things are going well. It’s a different beast altogether when things go awry. With how competitive the AFC West is slated to be and the Raiders schedule as a whole, plenty of tests await. 

The Silver & Black motto must return to Just Win, Baby. For too long it’s been Not Again, Baby. There’s ample time for McDaniels to prove himself. He must deliver. 

Because maturity won’t mean jack s*** unless he does.

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*Top Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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