Absolution is an interesting thing, especially if you’re team owner Mark Davis. Some Las Vegas Raiders are given such freedom by a certain sect of the fan base while others aren’t providing such reprieve. Just peruse the Raiders timeline on Twitter and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
One such benefactor of being absolved of any blame, guilt, obligation, or punishment is the team’s quarterback, Derek Carr. To be fair, “DC4” is full spectrum in terms of absolution and condemnation (perhaps vilification is more apt?).
Raider Nation is a three-piece suit when it comes to Carr, really. There are those that give him complete amnesty, much like one gets at the Pearly Gates. Then there are those who give him conviction of the Silver and Blake ailments. And in the middle, there are the indifferent (which often are more harmful than either the pro or con crowd).
Does Raiders owner Mark Davis absolve his head coach?
But here’s the kicker, y’all: The absolution some fans give the team’s quarterback is the same one Raiders owner Mark Davis provides to his head coach, Josh McDaniels. The vote of confidence Davis gave McDaniels is the type of amnesty some fans don’t want the head coach to have. In truth, it’s warranted. At 5-8 overall and suffering some horrific losses this season, 2022 is more of a Shakespearean tragedy for this team than a return to prominence â€“ one that the 2021 Raiders teased.
We’ve seen double-digit leads disappear like a fart into the wind as the one-score losses mount. There have been instances of the “dumbest team in America” (a phrase coined by former Raiders head honcho Bill Callahan). McDaniels speaks often of football being an imperfect game, and through his 13 games as captain of the Silver and Black Pearl, he has proven he’s an imperfect head coach. Play calling and player usage have been helter-skelter, as has player execution.
There have been glimmers of hope this season…
Despite the gloom and doom, there have been glimmers of what could be, albeit fleeting, much like the Raiders’ success over the last two decades. When McDaniels leans heavily on his elite playmakersâ€”running back Josh Jacobs and wide receiver Davante Adamsâ€”his offense is explosive and downright awesome. So much so that the Musical Chairs offensive line is a well-oiled machine, and the quarterback looks decisive and impressive. There have even been instances of complementary football, which has been severely lacking since the Raiders last won the Lombardi Trophy.
But does the glint of hope override the dreary cloud of suspect coaching and decision-making? An owner should look long and hard at his choice for El Capitan in what’s been a disappointing 2022 campaign and determine if a continued relationship is proper. But in Davis’s case, he likely won’t. He already gave McDaniels a vote of confidence after an inexcusable 25-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. That belief isn’t going to be shaken by the Raiders’ inexplicable defeat to the Los Angeles Rams two Thursdays ago. And it’s likely not going to erode if McDaniels falls to his mentor, Bill Belichick, and his New England Patriots this Sunday.
Absolution doesn’t sound so neat now, does it? Especially when it is not bestowed upon someone you place on a pedestal.
My “Two Cents” on Mark Davis
If I were Davis, I would give McDaniels another year, if not more, to right the ship. But I’d set expectations, such as closing the gap in pay differential between offensive and defensive spending on the roster. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham isn’t a paragon of smart scheming, but he isn’t working with an adequate roster. He’s being asked to make a gourmet five-star meal out of Maruchan Instant Ramen Noodles. Not to say ramen isn’t good; I got through college on it, but you can’t expect full-compliment sustenance from food designed for broke college students.
I’d also keep Carr around as quarterback beyond this season. This is strictly for continuity purposes. Plus, it’s also to see if Carr can make it work with a healthy Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Plus, add in an offensive line that’ll be in Year 2 under offensive line boss Carmen Bricillo. That said, I’d draft a prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft in the first three rounds to develop behind Carr. Please, no more of Jarrett Stidham. We can all agree that QB2 has long gone unnoticed by Raiders personnel and coaches. If you want to achieve long-term success, a quarterback prospect should be brought in. Oh, and I don’t care if Carr is uncomfortable with that.
*Top Photo: Sam Morris/Getty Images