The Las Vegas Raiders have been on a tear to start the 2023 NFL Preseason. The team secured a 34-7 victory last weekend vs. the 49ers, an outcome that was never in question. Josh McDaniels and Co. followed it up with another 34-point outburst in Week 2 vs. the Rams. Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd is starting to buy in.
The polarizing analyst is never shy about sharing his off-the-wall opinions; he has made a career out of it. But could Cowherd be falling head over heels for this upstart Raiders’ roster? If you take his statements about McDaniels to heart, the answer is a resounding yes.
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“I understand the way it works in pro sports. If you don’t win, you’re a loser; you get fired. But even [Bill] Belichick and Gregg Popovich [the last couple of years] have struggled to win; you need personnel,” Cowherd explained to his viewers on Monday.
“So, the Raiders are a really interesting team. We don’t love the ownership, but they have a new front office, a new coach from New England where they had a lot of success.”
Cowherd continued, “Here are the other things we have noticed in the preseason. They have the best backup quarterback in the league potentially in Aidan O’Connell. That kid as a backup looks tremendous. He’s out of Purdue. Got a big arm. Nice player. Throws a great ball. Confident. Nice arm. Accurate. I think he’s looked great.”
“We also know they’ve blown out the Rams and San Francisco, so the energy has been great. They’re playing with a ton of focus and a ton of intensity in the preseason.”
This statement led Cowherd to ask the question that many in Raider Nation are still wondering. “So, here is the question that we are all asking about the Raiders: Can Josh McDaniels coach?” he asked matter-of-factly.
Colin Cowherd Says Josh McDaniels Can Still Be A Winner
“Here’s the issue. There are three boxes he checks — and they are important boxes. Belichick respected him enough to give him the offense for over a decade. That is a big box to check. Belichick doesn’t just give the offense for long sustained periods of time to a guy that he doesn’t think is smart.”
“We also know [Tom] Brady loved him. Absolutely loved him. Brady had problems with coaches down in Tampa. He didn’t have any problems with Josh McDaniels.”
“We also know — and this matters — he’s verbal. He obviously interviews well. The Colts have offered him a job. The Raiders offered him a job. Apparently, he goes into a room and can sell himself.”
Cowherd spoke on intel he received from within the Raiders’ organization by saying, “Now, he got frustrated with Derek Carr. But I was told two weeks ago by somebody in that organization a lot of people were getting frustrated with Derek Carr. You know, he wasn’t for everybody.”
“Josh McDaniels is not a rigid, old, defensive coach. He’s not one of these guys that struggles to communicate. There’s a lot to like. Belichick absolutely trusted him, Brady loved him, he’s verbal, and he interviews well. We just don’t know about this organization,” Cowherd said in support of the second-time head coach.
“There are two coaches in this league right now that I think are actually very good. But they’re not winning. I think Arthur Smith in Atlanta, I think is a pretty good coach. But he’s not winning. And then Josh McDaniels in Vegas, I think is a pretty good coach. And he’s not winning.”
Cowherd Says Raiders Defense Let McDaniels Down In Year 1
“But it should be noted, the Raiders’ defense, since he’s been there, has been awful. He didn’t draft it. And he doesn’t coach that side. At some point, you can’t blame the offensive coach cause the defense can’t make stops,” the Fox Sports anchor explained.
“I watch Atlanta, and I watch the Raiders, and the Raiders were like in four overtime games last year. They were competitive in a lot of games.”
To help his claim, Cowherd invoked the names of past and current head coaches. “And the other thing is, you have to be careful about who is a winner and who is not. Bill Parcells, Big Tuna, one of the smartest guys that’s ever coached in this league, has won 57 percent of his games. He’s a legend; 57 percent.
“Pete Carroll’s won 59 percent; he’s a legend. Kyle Shanahan considered a genius offensively, has won 53 percent of his games. It’s just easy to say ‘win more games’.”
“Andy Reid got fired by Philadelphia and used to get bagged, I mean dragged all over the place because he wasn’t good with clock management. Now he’s considered the smartest coach in the league. Why? Because he wins more.”
“So, when Josh McDaniels got the job in Denver, he was only 33 years old. My guess is? He was a kid and wasn’t ready. He was too cocky. Okay. He’s not the first young person to get a job, and he’s not quite ready,” Cowherd said with a slight giggle.
“The franchise has not been that capitalized. It had to move. The defense is a mess. They fired [Jon] Gruden. They fired the GM. Even a five-star chef needs some produce to work with here.”
Jimmy Garoppolo And Aidan O’Connell Look Like Capable Starters At QB
Vegas is getting remarkable play out of Garoppolo and O’Connell thus far, and Cowherd has taken notice. “They’ve looked good in the preseason. Garoppolo, when he’s upright, is good. They have excellent offensive weapons. They appear to, in the fourth round, have gotten a kid out of Purdue, two-year starter Aidan O’Connell — dude can play. Like your backup now, he’s free, and he can play.”
“And it’s easy to say it’s a tough division. Is it? Do we trust the Chargers? Do we know what Denver is? The Raiders are fascinating to me. If you have a great edge rusher, a competent quarterback who has been to a Super Bowl, star back, star weapons.”
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Cowherd finished his segment with an offer of promise for Raider Nation. When detailing the good and bad of the current roster, he had far more good things to say. “That’s a lot of boxes to check. There are a lot of things they have that other teams don’t have. A good left tackle, a good edge rusher, star weapons, a star back, a competent quarterback, offensive coach. That’s a lot of boxes that win 10-12 games in this league.”
*Top Photo: FOX SPORTS