Any love affair Las Vegas Raiders had with head coach Josh McDaniels is quickly souring. The team is off to an 0-2 start and the coach is already responsible for the first 20-point blown lead in team history with the recent loss to the Arizona Cardinals. McDaniels inherited a team that made the playoffs last season so the expectation is much higher than for most first-year head coaches.
The coach took a lot of blame and accountability after the Raiders’ loss to the Cardinals but one theme he touched on stuck out. He essentially keeps repeating that the team needs to learn how to win.
“It is two games, but every game is important,” McDaniels said after Sunday’s loss. “We have a lot of things we’re going to be able to learn from. We gotta start learning and winning at the same time, that’s important for us. We’ll be able to learn something from this as well.”
It’s odd to suggest that a team loaded with veterans who have won a lot of games needs to learn how to win. According to Bookies.com, the Raiders have the fourth-oldest roster in the NFL based on average age. This isn’t a team that is filled with players fresh out of college. Former NFL scout John Middlekauff had a major issue with McDaniels’ comments and suggested that he’s got his assessment all wrong.
“This is bulls***,” Middlekauff said in response to McDaniels’ comments on the “Haberman & Middlekauff” podcast. “McDaniels is saying we have to learn how to win games. Like, hey Josh, the core of your team literally won 10 games last year, and I would say one of the games of the year Week 18 on Sunday Night Football, a game that really they shouldn’t have won and they did. So Derek [Carr], [Hunter] Renfrow, [Maxx] Crosby, like the core of their team, Kolton Miller, literally know how to win games in one of the weirdest craziest most bats*** seasons we’ve ever seen.
“And then the number one player that you acquired this offseason, one of the top players in the league, has won 39 games the last three years and has been the one seed two of the three of those years, and the other year I think they were the two seed or the three seed they went to the NFC Championship Game. So Davante, all he knows is winning, and Derek and these guys literally just won last season so I would say Josh the only guy who I think needs to prove that they know how to win is you as a head coach.”
Derek Carr Agrees With McDaniels’ Assessment
McDaniels wasn’t meaning anything malicious with his comments about learning to win. In fact, quarterback Derek Carr agreed with everything he had to say.
“I agree with coach, we have to learn how to win,” Carr said after the game. “It starts with me, and it always will. I think for the execution we had in the first half, we did not execute each play with the detail we did in the first half. One thing here, one thing there and it looks like a bad play, and we’re this close from another good half. There’s a couple times looking for someone downfield or this or that, one thing messes up, and that’s a bad play. It goes back to what coach says, do our job. No matter what the score is, if we do our job, at the end, it will take care of itself. I’m sure when we watch film, over and over again, that will be a theme.”
While Carr agrees with his coach, it’s a bad look for him this early in his tenure. The Raiders have a loaded roster and went to the playoffs last season. The biggest change they went through this offseason was adding McDaniels as head coach. Whether it’s truly his fault or not, McDaniels will get most of the blame if the Raiders fail this season.
Just Win, Baby
The Raiders don’t need to be overcomplicating things this early in the season. Nobody needs to learn how to win. They just need to win. It’s hard to imagine the season getting off to a worse start but there are 15 games left to play in the regular season.
It’s not too late to turn the season around. Now, Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans is essentially a must-win for the Raiders. There have only been six teams in modern NFL history to start 0-3 and still make the playoffs. It’s time to see what this Las Vegas team is made of or the season could be over before it truly starts.