Raiders HC Josh McDaniels

Reviewing Josh McDaniels’ Baffling Play Calling In Week 16

Well, the Las Vegas Raiders once again blew a fourth-quarter lead. This time, it was against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a familiar foe. If my memory serves me properly, this is the fifth game in which the Raiders’ offense has imploded in the second half. Compared to the Steelers’ 350 yards of offense, the Raiders’ total was only 201 yards. Let’s analyze Josh McDaniels, the so-called “offensive guru,” for his once again awful play-calling versus the Steelers.

First drive for the Raiders was good, but after that…

The Raiders had a fantastic opening drive. Evidently, McDaniels believed that feeding Josh Jacobs was the best thing to do. And it worked. Jacobs received the first three offensive touches, which resulted in a first down. Following that, Foster Moreau and Jacobs both gained consecutive first downs, and it appeared that the Raiders’ offense was finding its groove. The Raiders then faced a third-and-long situation, at which point McDaniels selected his go-to play—a dump-off to Ameer Abdullah. However, it was successful this time, as Abdullah managed to earn the first down. Carr made a pass that seemed short on the first down to Hunter Renfrow. Renfrow, though, managed to elude several defenders and score from 14 yards away. The Raiders’ offense was off to a tremendous start.

The Raiders were only able to gain 26 yards on their next two offensive drives, which ended in punts. This occurred as a result of the Raiders offensive line being tormented by the Steelers defensive line, which prevented either the run or pass game from establishing any rhythm. Carr’s inaccurate passes were also hurting the cause. With two minutes remaining in the first half, the Raiders received the ball back, and for the first time, McDaniels was aggressive in closing out the half. The biggest play of the drive came when Carr fired a pass to Darren Waller that traveled 34 yards while going through several defenders. This placed the Raiders in position for a field goal. Additionally, Daniel Carlson stepped out and completed a 40-yard pass to increase the Raiders’ lead to 10-3 at the half following some missed throws by Carr.

Another Josh McDaniels disaster in the second half 

Given the conditions, the Raiders’ offensive performance in the first half wasn’t awful. However, the offense stalled in the second half for the second week in a row, scoring nothing. In the second half, the Raiders had the following possessions: an interception, an interception, a punt, a punt, and an interception. Let’s discuss the initial two interceptions. The first wasn’t Carr’s fault since Moreau couldn’t make the catch, and the ball ricocheted into a Steelers defender’s hands. The second one was on Carr as well as Renfrow; it appeared like there was a misunderstanding regarding where Renfrow wanted the ball. McDaniels then became cautious and sought to only rely on his one possession lead, which resulted in three straight punts.

When you try to keep a one-possession lead for the entire game, nothing positive happens. The Raiders’ defense was on the field for the bulk of the second half as a result of their ineffective offense. So, you really can’t hold it against them that they were exhausted and gave up the game-winning touchdown. With a chance to tie or win the game, the Raiders offense did in fact regain possession of the ball. They had all three of their timeouts and 40 seconds to work with. This gave them an opportunity. The Raiders’ last drive ended in failure, not because of McDaniels’ play-calling but rather because of Carr’s execution. Although Renfrow was wide open on the Raiders’ final offensive play, Carr essentially threw it directly to a Steelers defender to end the game.

At this point, McDaniels’ play-calling is more than worrisome. A play average of 3.9 yards is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to score zero points in the second half. It is repugnant to be unable to plan a way to make Davante Adams and Jacobs successful. Do you see where this is headed? Raider Nation deserves a play-caller who can maximize the effectiveness of these special offensive weapons.

*Top Photo: AP Photo/Don Wright

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