When Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler were officially hired to take control of the Las Vegas Raiders, it was clear the “Patriot Way” was how the Silver and Black were conducting business. Although Derek Carr was signed to an extension upon the duo’s arrival, quarterback Jarrett Stidham was acquired in a trade to be the team’s QB2. Furthermore, ex-Patriots Brandon Bolden and Jakob Johnson were added to the backfield, replacing Jalen Richard and Alec Ingold.
Instantly, the Raiders were becoming an extension of the New England Patriots.
One year later, the pair continued adding pieces from New England they were fond of. Despite signing a three-year extension in 2022, Carr was cut and ultimately replaced by former Patriot Jimmy Garoppolo. Darren Waller, who also received an extension in 2022, was traded in effort to free up cap for Jakobi Meyers. General manager Dave Ziegler explained this move as simply swapping Waller for Meyers, while gaining a third-round pick in the process from the New York Giants.
Of course, this move wouldn’t have been made had McDaniels not spent three seasons coaching Meyers in New England.
While the Raiders continue adding former Patriots such as Brian Hoyer and Jacob Bobenmoyer, one club is quietly attempting to rebuild Las Vegas’ foundation from a few seasons ago. In 2021, the Silver and Black made the postseason with a 10-7 record. The record itself isn’t too impressive, but the story behind it certainly is. Despite losing both their head coach and premier wideout during the season, the team was able to keep focus and string wins together. This included six last-second victories by the club, shattering the NFL season-record of four.
The story is powerful – so powerful, the New Orleans Saints are trying to recreate it.
New Orleans Saints take over abandoned foundation
The magic of the team’s 2021 campaign cannot be understated. Quarterback Derek Carr started all 17 contests, and although stars Darren Waller and Henry Ruggs missed a great deal of the season – for different reasons – their backups were able to step in and keep the team afloat. Tight end Foster Moreau caught 30 passes for 373 yards and three scores, tallying at least 50 receiving yards in four contests. Bryan Edwards caught 34 passes for 571 yards, averaging an impressive 16.8 yards per reception.
Today, none of the three aforementioned players play for the Raiders. They all remain teammates, however.
After landing Derek Carr on a four-year, $150 million contract, the Saints added both Edwards and Moreau to their roster. New Orleans even added former Raiders first-round pick Johnathan Abram after Carr recruited him to join the team. If none of this was enough, the Saints capped it off by adding the one man who connected all of these players together: Jon Gruden.
Gruden was responsible for assembling a roster which housed every player mentioned above. Las Vegas began their ’21 campaign with Gruden as the head coach, finishing 10-7 by way of his philosophy. The Raiders were building something special, but team owner Mark Davis elected to hit the refresh button.
Las Vegas’ loss is New Orleans’ gain.
Bringing in a former Raiders head coach to help another former Raiders head coach…
If you’re going to build where another team left off, it only makes sense to bring in that team’s former coach. So, that’s exactly what New Orleans did.
Per NOLA.com, the Saints had Gruden come in this week to help tie everything together. Gruden had spent over three seasons with Carr, drafting both Moreau and Edwards to help the veteran quarterback.
There’s one more similarity here. Like Gruden, current Saints head coach Dennis Allen once manned the ship for the Raiders.
Allen took over for the Raiders in 2012, lasting four weeks into Carr’s rookie year back in 2014. Although the pair had only spent a handful of months together, it was enough for them to develop a strong relationship.
Ahead of Las Vegas’ matchup against the Saints in 2022, Carr spoke on that relationship. “D.A. and I have a great relationship still to this day. I still talk to him and things like that – obviously not this week and all those things – but we’ve always kept in contact,” Carr stated. “We’ve always been close.”
New Orleans is hoping to put their lackluster ’22 season behind them and start anew with Carr. Will Carr, now reunited with Edwards and Moreau, be able to pick up where he left off in 2021?
*Top Photo: Las Vegas Review Journal
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