Josh McDaniels’ return to coaching has not gone according to plan. The longtime New England Patriots assistant has avoided becoming a head coach again until the right situation opened up to him. The Las Vegas Raiders showed interest in him this offseason with their head coaching opening and he pounced on it.
The Raiders made the playoffs last season but owner Mark Davis didn’t think interim head coach Rich Bisaccia was the right guy long-term. Based on the team’s first nine games this season, that is looking like a mistake. The Raiders are 2-7 and just lost to an Indianapolis Colts team that had Jeff Saturday making his NFL coaching debut.
Fans have already decided that they want McDaniels to get fired. It’s been an abject disaster this season and they want Davis to fix this issue before it lingers for too long. However, that’s just not going to happen after nine games. According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, Davis has “given assurances” to McDaniels that he will be the head coach of the Raiders in 2023.
Obviously, owners aren’t always honest with their employees but Davis recently came out and offered support for McDaniels. It’s becoming clear that he’s not going anywhere yet.
Why Keeping McDaniels Could Be the Right Call
Raiders fans have every right to be frustrated and angry. The team has had two winning seasons since 2002. This was supposed to be the year that they finally started building a consistent winner. Instead, they have regressed in a major way. However, sticking with McDaniels for another season is the best option for the Raiders.
Everybody would love to see Sean Payton or Jim Harbaugh in silver and black but can Davis really afford to pay buyouts to McDaniels and Jon Gruden and then hand a massive deal to a superstar head coach? It’s highly unlikely that he can. That would mean that he’d need to go with a cheaper option if he fired McDaniels. Is Eric Eric Bieniemy, Byron Leftwich or Dan Quinn an obvious upgrade over the current coach? It’s impossible to know right now. Unless Davis knows he can convince Payton to join the team or Harbaugh is willing to lower his asking price, then McDaniels is the only real option the Raiders have next season.
How McDaniels Can Turn Things Around in 2023
This season is lost for the Raiders. The team is banged up, the defense is a disaster and quarterback Derek Carr looks defeated. As bad as things look right now, the team did have a chance to win in six of their seven losses. If they just won games where they had 17-point leads, they’d be 5-4 and in the thick of the playoff race.
There will be talk of the Raiders moving on from Carr this offseason but he’ll likely be back if ownership has already guaranteed that McDaniels is safe. With a couple of tweaks to the offensive line and Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow being healthy, the offense should be much better next season. The biggest concern is the defense. They clearly need a complete overhaul. The team needs to strip down the defense and build around Maxx Crosby and Nate Hobbs. They should have some valuable draft picks this year so it’s possible they can fix the defense with a really good offseason. It’s easy to be a catastrophist with the Raiders right now but they aren’t as far away from being a good team as many have suggested.