The Raiders

Coaching, scheme, or execution: what’s caused the Raiders’ 2-6 start?

The Las Vegas Raiders head into Week 10 with a 2-6 record and key pieces of their offense placed on injured reserve. In the last two weeks, they have been shutout completely and only scored in two quarters of their last game.

What gives? Why are the Raiders incapable of putting together 60 minutes of football? Is it the coaching, playcalling, scheme, or something else all together?

Coaching

Josh McDaniels is by far the easiest target in the world for criticism. By his own accounts, McDaniels acknowledged that he was a flawed head coach who had no idea what he was doing in his first go-round with the Denver Broncos. He knew Xs and Os but not how to lead men or communicate with players, as was typical of many of Belichick’s unsuccessful assistant coaches.

We have all heard it, said it, and thought it. The New England Patriots’ assistant coaching tree is all frauds away from Bill Belichick, arguably the greatest head coach in the history of the NFL. After all, this was a playoff team in 2021 under Rich Bisaccia, the special team’s coordinator, who had no head coaching experience whatsoever.

But this sudden notion that McDaniels can’t coach or hasn’t evolved is the result of frustration. Somehow, the success has been attributed to either the defensive-minded Belichick or the brilliance of Tom Brady.

Never mind the fact that without Brady, the Patriots offense was sixth in points and 15th in yards; to top it off, McDaniels made the playoffs with rookie Mac Jones at quarterback. Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Myers, Nelson Agholor, and Hunter Henry as his primary receiving options, and no 1,000-yard running back.

Stay true to the scheme

The amount of discredit Raider Nation is ready to give McDaniels for the offensive success the Raiders should have had is phenomenal. Let me explain what I mean. Prior to getting shut out by the then-30th-ranked New Orleans Saints defense, the Raiders had the third-ranked offense in the league eight weeks into the season. Despite being shut out and having an early bye, they were ranked 12th heading into the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

After having an offense take six of its last eight quarters off, they have plummeted in the rankings to 21st. The lack of a running game is once again a major factor in this precipitous decline. Josh Jacobs had a stretch of games where he averaged either over seven yards per carry or 140-plus yards per game. If you recall, the New Orleans Saints and Jaguars stacked the box and forced the Raiders’ passing game to beat them. It fell apart against the Saints. Derek Carr and Davante Adams were successful early against the Jaguars, but when they unloaded the box and switched to a 2-high look, production ceased.

Each and every time the offense has had to rely solely on the passing game, they have lost. That is a testimony to the play-caller. McDaniels has got to be better about keeping Jacobs fed and keeping the running game active throughout the duration of the game.

The missed education on execution

Bret “The Hitman” Hart is a world-renowned sports entertainer from the World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment and a Raiders fan. Hart’s whole claim to fame was “The Excellence of Execution.” Al Davis’s mantra was “Commitment to Excellence.”

NFL analysts, pundits, former coaches, and players, including current players on the team, all seem to agree that the players need to execute. Coaches coach, but players make plays. McDaniels hasn’t missed a single blocking assignment, a single read, dropped a football, or underthrown a pass. He hasn’t held anyone on the offensive line instead of blocking them and isn’t committing pre-snap penalties.

On The Unphiltered Truth, Las Vegas Raiders digital reporter Levi Edwards sat down with me and discussed the lack of execution, among a great many other things. In trying to identify the issues facing the team, most fans point to the symptoms rather than the problem. Why is the team poor on third downs on defense and offense? Redzone passing, pass defense, and situational football remain critically underperforming. It’s because they aren’t executing when they need to.

*Top Photo: Getty Images Pool

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