The Las Vegas Raiders haven’t been doing much winning save for a couple of playoff appearances that saw them get bounced early. This current regime preaches about seeing the “big picture” and not overreacting to losses on a weekly basis. However, a disconcerting 2-5 start has left fans angry and perplexed. 2022 was supposed to be the start of something new, instead, it’s more of the same.
Will 2022 be any different than previous years for the Raiders?
Technically, yes, there’s still more football left to be played this season. At the same time, the playoffs are quickly becoming an unlikely event at this rate. Most fans are aware of the challenge presented by trying to win now and plan for the future simultaneously. However, this team made it to the playoffs last year in spite of the Jon Gruden debacle, the Henry Ruggs tragedy, and a bevy of injuries. On top of that, the team was being led by a career special teams coach, though, to his credit, the Raiders rallied around him. It’s gotten so bad that some are wondering if Rich Bisaccia should’ve been retained. That’s where we are with regard to the Silver and Black.
So, what did general manager Dave Ziegler have to say? It was about what you would expect, all things considered. The first-year Raiders’ general manager wasn’t about to throw anyone under the bus.
“We’re seven games into a new regime and a new way of doing things. We were hired to build a football team that can sustain and win. The focus is always on the long term. Every trade and contract extension that we have done has been with the focus on the long term. We can’t let the results of seven games steer us in a different direction,” said Ziegler on Monday while speaking to the press in Florida.
What to make all of this?
You can give all the lip service that you want, but the numbers paint an ugly picture. While it’s important to keep things in perspective, the Raiders just haven’t been doing much winning since Mark Davis took over. Josh Dubow of the Associated Press pointed out today that the Raiders have gone 73-107 since Mr. Davis took the reins following the passing of his father, the legendary Al Davis. By now, everyone’s familiar with the gaffes that have taken place since 2011, so there’s no need to go down that road. Fair enough, especially when you consider this offseason produced an entirely new regime.
Let’s then shift to Josh McDaniels. The hand-picked selection by Ziegler, the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator, was presented as a mastermind. Once Davante Adams was acquired, Raider Nation was jubilant at the notion of seeing an explosive unit on the field with Derek Carr at the helm. Instead, eight weeks into the season, fans are seeing one of the most inconsistent offenses in recent Raiders’ history. For some context, the Raiders’ offense is producing 121.9 yards through the air per game with Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow on the field. Far from “elite,” and even more discouraging when you realize that Tyreek Hill is producing just as much on his own with the Miami Dolphins, as Dubow also pointed out.
Can the Raiders win with Josh McDaniels at the helm?
Winning in the future is an extremely difficult sell for a fanbase that’s been enduring hardship since 2002. Ziegler expressed patience with everything that has been happening around him. He even went as far as to say that he’s “impressed” with the job that McDaniels has done so far. As you can imagine, the reaction to that comment was swift; just take a look at the comments in Vic Tafur’s thread as evidence. Ziegler can try and sell his vision amidst a midseason catastrophe; that’s part of the job. Expressing panic would be disastrous for this team, so you can’t fault him for taking that road. Unfortunately, the numbers are once again not in his favor.
For now, Ziegler has unwavering confidence in McDaniels’ ability to right the ship. Regrettably, McDaniels has proven he’s not an expert at winning, at least not yet. So far, he’s lost 22 of his last 29 games as a head coach. Which dates back to his Denver Broncos days. The best way to describe McDaniels’ offense is inconsistently. Josh Jacobs was carrying the unit on his back for a nice stretch of games, but once the New Orleans Saints were able to figure out his tendencies and shut down the run game, McDaniels’ offense sputtered. Literally everything that could go wrong did. Even the most incompetent offenses in the NFL can cross into enemy territory and at least put up a field goal. The shutout loss was simply a historically bad look, and the ramifications are being felt.
History isn’t on the Raiders’ side…Â
History isn’t on the side of the Raiders right now. In the end, what are fans supposed to do? They won’t quit their Raiders. At the same time, Davis has publicly said that McDaniels isn’t going anywhere, and Ziegler remains focused on his vision for the Silver and Black. A win in Jacksonville will calm some of the anxiety, and another win the following week puts them at 4-5. Right now, the team is at a crossroads. Will they crumble, or will 2022 prove Ziegler’s mantra of winning now while remaining focused on the future turn out to be true? Right now, it appears that Raider Nation isn’t buying it. A couple of wins will definitely put those concerns to rest, at least momentarily.
*Top Photo: Getty Images Pool