Raiders Blog: GM Dave Ziegler

Be Smart, Baby: Raiders GM Dave Ziegler Has “Football Intelligence” Atop His Must-Haves Lists When It Comes To Prospects, Players

While he didn’t pull the Bill Callahan “Dumbest Team in America” jewel, it wasn’t difficult to hear a hint of that when Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler was on the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast released earlier this week.

While Ziegler’s comment on perhaps the Raiders not having an “immediate answer” to the quarterback position this year got the majority of play — full context, the podcast was recorded back on Jan. 20, 2023 — what the GM said about why the team couldn’t close games out was far more interesting.

Inside Raiders GM Dave Ziegler’s thoughts…

“At the end of the day, we weren’t good enough. That’s the fact of the matter to win those games. And so, I think, when you look at them, a lot of games in football and a lot of our games this year had three or four plays that didn’t go our way. And so you start to dig in: ‘Why?’ Like, you have to start asking the question: ‘Why? Why didn’t they go that way?’,” Ziegler began.

“I’ll say it like this: I think the thing that’s important to win those close games is that you have to have a group of 11 guys that, in those critical moments, can all execute their assignments and be synchronized with each other. And I think at times, we just weren’t able to do that. For whatever the reason is. And there could be a lot of reasons to that.”

Oh, here comes the part that’ll remind you a bit about good ol’ Callahan’s scathing remark about his 2003 Oakland Raiders.

“And I’ve talked about this in other interviews; I think one thing that’s important to me in terms of building the team and improving the team is also, I think, improving the football intelligence on our team,” Ziegler added. “Situational football, situational awareness, and some of that comes from who you’re bringing in, some of that comes from how you teach it. And all those things kind of come together. But building a smart, tough, physical football team that can perform in the critical situations is kind of the philosophy and is something that is really important to us as a Raider organization.”

Man, Ziegler sounds like OG Kurt Angle and the “three Is,” which are intensity, integrity, and intelligence.

Why didn’t Dave Ziegler fix it this past season?

Self-awareness is an integral thing for a personnel person, and it’s refreshing to see Ziegler call a spade a spade. Las Vegas’ football intelligence in the most critical of situations was amiss and needs fixing. Of course, the reaction can be, “Why didn’t Ziegler fix it this past season?” In fairness, you can’t really see how someone will react to a high-pressure, high-stress environment unless they’re in it; practice can’t simulate it. And even when Ziegler and crew realized the football IQ of the roster was lacking, all they could do was elevate practice squad talent and sign street free agents in-season as the issue mounted, along with injuries wiping out the roster too.

It’s an ongoing evaluation that isn’t going to be settled.

What do I mean by that?

Even if you find football smart and controlled players and get them on the roster, it’s an ongoing thing. You don’t stop when you stock up on that type of talent. You keep bringing in that type of player year after year. Because such is life in the NFL, where one injury or one misstep can wreck your roster. Plus, Ziegler can bring players in and out all day long, but it’s up to head coach Josh McDaniels and his coaching staff to develop players.

“And so, I think to do that, we have to continue to find the pieces in the different rooms, whether it’s the linebacker room, whether it’s the defensive back room, the receiver room, whatever, find players that embody that and can do that in those critical moments,” Ziegler said. “And I think if we can do that, eventually we’ll end up turning the tides on those close games, and those close games will be the ones that we’ll win.”

The Raiders GM isn’t showing his hand…

Winning is key, of course. The Raiders’ time-honored motto is “Just Win, Baby,” and many folks who were not inspired by Ziegler’s candid conversation on the podcast are likely seeing it as “Just Win, Maybe?” now. Dave Ziegler isn’t going to show his hand, even though a loyal and rabid Raider Nation fan base wants to see it.

If there’s an encouraging item from Ziegler’s chat with The Boys, it’s that he’s steadfast in his approach. He’s of the “scared money doesn’t make money” school of thought made famous by Florida Gators coach Billy Napier.

Dude…

“I tell myself a lot, ‘Dude, you’re the GM of the Raiders. You were a guidance counselor. Keep things in perspective, keep it level and enjoy the moment’. Because of that mindset, my decisions aren’t driven by just trying to stay alive. The fact that I got to this position, and I have this job is kind of wild to think, compared to where we were in 2008, so I don’t let fear of failure or of being fired drive decisions,” Dave Ziegler noted.

“We’re going to swing, and we also have a vision of how we want to do things. We’re just going to go, and I believe it’s going to work. That’s why I’m going to do things the way I do them. I believe we’re going to win here. I believe we’re going to build something that’s going to compete for championships and ultimately, get us to where we want to go.

“But I’m not going to do anything and divert for that because I’m like, scared of something,” or ‘I’m going to buy two more years’ if we do this or that. That’s not how I’m wired. I’m not going to go down like that.”

*Top Photo: Las Vegas Review-Journal

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8 thoughts on “Be Smart, Baby: Raiders GM Dave Ziegler Has “Football Intelligence” Atop His Must-Haves Lists When It Comes To Prospects, Players”

    1. Just win baby Al daviis. When you have great players and great coaches and a great organization and you say just one thing just win baby.

  1. I was always on the same page as Al speed kills puts fear in defense and a running back that has that kind of speed is what we need beside more play makers on defense.

  2. He says ‘football intelligence’ in the players is important. So that would be why the head coach wouldn’t give a 9 year veteran QB the authority to call plays at the line if he saw the defense didn’t suit the play sent in from the sideline?

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