This past offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders acquired Davante Adams via trade. By landing Adams, the Raiders’ offensive upgrade caught national attention. The new offensive core would feature Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, Josh Jacobs, and Adams. The Raiders were now poised to make a run after hiring “offensive guru” Josh McDaniels as their head coach. At least in theory they were.
Following a 10-win season the previous year, things went south for McDaniels and the Raiders. By the conclusion of the regular season, they stood at 6-11. Let’s analyze the highs and lows of McDaniels’ first season as the Raiders’ head coach.
First half of the season was a disaster for Josh McDaniels
Due to their lack of understanding of how to play a whole game and their best offensive players’ unclear roles, the Raiders started their season with a record of 0-3. The Raiders started slowly against the Los Angeles Chargers in their first game of the year and were unable to make up for it. The Raiders led the Arizona Cardinals 20-0 at halftime the next week, but they ultimately lost in overtime. There was no sign of Josh Jacobs or Davante Adams during this contest. The Raiders once again struggled to overcome their sluggish start in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans, losing a close game. A pattern of McDaniels’ team’s inability to play a full football game started to emerge.
The Raiders were finally able to enter the victory column in Week 4 against the Denver Broncos. For the first time this season, both Jacobs and Adams went over 100 yards in the same game. What a surprise! McDaniels involved his stars, which led to a victory. But the Raiders lost a heartbreaking game to the Kansas City Chiefs the following week after blowing another double-digit lead. Once again, Adams and Jacobs each surpassed 100 yards, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Raiders from losing this contest. The Raiders easily defeated the Houston Texans after their bye week. Jacobs played well, and things started to look up. They had won two of their previous three games after starting 0-3, which is a harbinger of good things to come, right?
This, however, did not inspire the team, as they lost their following three games. They lost the games by being shut out, blowing a double-digit lead, and losing to a high school head coach. The Raiders’ situation was looking quite dismal at 2-7, but they immediately drew the fans back in.
There were some improvements in the second half for the Raiders
They had a three-game winning streak immediately after their three-game losing streak. The primary factor in the winning streak was McDaniels’ decision to stick with what had previously worked, which was dependent on Jacobs and Adams. In their game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14, the Raiders once again lost a double-digit lead. However, they prevailed in McDaniels’ homecoming game the following week against the New England Patriots.
The Raiders visited the Pittsburgh Steelers with a record of 6-8 and the season practically on the line. And once more, this time thanks to Derek Carr, they let a double-digit lead slip away. Carr was benched for the remainder of the season as a result of this terrible performance. The Raiders lost their final two games of the season, which indicates that the Jarrett Stidham experiment wasn’t very successful.
Final thoughts on Josh McDaniels’ first seasonÂ
We didn’t anticipate McDaniels’ debut season to end with a 6-11 record and a missed playoff appearance. It had its share of ups and downs, with the downs dominating. The three main weaknesses of McDaniels were his general lack of situational awareness, his often conservative play calling, and his inability to coach with a lead. Even if some of these circumstances weren’t his fault, the Raiders began to exhibit a trend, which is a result of poor coaching. To their credit, however, the Raiders ranked 12th in offensive yards and points per game, according to ESPN. Additionally, McDaniels assisted Jacobs and Mack Hollins in having career years. Jacobs and Adams were also included on the First Team All-Pro roster as well. Raider Nation just needs to be patient, because it is clear he knows how to coach offense.
Let’s give McDaniels a shot with his own quarterback, despite the speculation that will abound this offseason.
*Top Photo: Mark Zaleski/Associated Press