When the Las Vegas Raiders hired Josh McDaniels, there were some concerns but none of them had to do with his playcalling. Everybody knew that he was one of the top offensive minds in the NFL, they just didn’t know if he had the leadership ability to be a good head coach. In 13 games with the team, his playcalling has left a lot to be desired.
Heading into Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams, the Raiders had one of the best passing attacks in the league with wide receiver Davante Adams looking unstoppable. Against a bad Rams defense, the offense could only muster 16 points with none of them coming in the second half. Adams didn’t catch a single pass in the second half and quarterback Derek Carr only threw it 20 times the entire game. Once the Raiders got to 16 points, it was obvious that McDaniels was hoping just to outlast the Rams. That ended up coming back to haunt the team.
McDaniels has been very conservative in his playcalling this season but he doesn’t believe that is the case. He defended the team’s gameplan following the loss to the Rams.
“When you look at the tape, there’s opportunities to be made,” McDaniels said Friday. “I don’t know how many times Derek [Carr] scrambled, but it had to be four or five at least, I think. On a number of those, we were attempting to get the ball down the field and had some opportunities on some of them to do that.
“Again, passing the ball is a complementary thing. I’ve said it all year and I won’t stop saying it because it’s the truth. It’s not just calling a pass play or calling a deep shot. It’s (that) everything has to work together. The route has to be run properly, the read has to be made properly, the protection has to be done well, and then you have an opportunity to make a play.
“Just because somebody calls something … doesn’t mean that the ball is ultimately going to get fired down the field or we’re going to have great, great success.”
McDaniels Says He Didn’t Call Game Any Differently
The Raiders have been a balanced offense for much of the season. Josh Jacobs leads the NFL in rushing yards while Carr is 11th in passing yards. Against the Rams, the Raiders decided to throw it only 20 times while rushing it 38 times. The one thing the Rams have done well this season is defend against the run so it seemed like an odd choice. Despite the big discrepancy in rushes to passes, McDaniels claims he didn’t call the game any differently.
“I didn’t call the game any differently yesterday than I have any other game this year offensively,” McDaniels said. “I just felt like we didn’t have as much success taking advantage of a few opportunities that were presented to us for a number of reasons.”
McDaniels Defends Controversial Patrick Graham Choice
McDaniels wasn’t the only Raiders coach to make questionable calls against the Rams. During Los Angeles’ final drive, the defense decided to play press coverage. Typically, defenses play zone coverage when an offense needs to score a touchdown with just seconds left. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham thought he knew better which is why Baker Mayfield was able to hit Van Jefferson for the game-winning touchdown.
While many came out to question Graham’s playcalling, McDaniels defended his defensive coordinator.
“You have multiple choices there, and we chose to at least get tight to him and try to make completing the ball a little bit harder,” he said. “I don’t think we did a great job of executing being on top of the player the way that we would like to. Again, we can always look back at that and choose something else, and we play a softer zone and give them the opportunity to find somebody in some space. …
“They still could have completed a ball and then clocked it and those kinds of things. So, hindsight is always 20/20. … Whatever the call is — whenever we call zone, man, split safety, post safety — just try to execute it as best we can to try to deny opportunities like that.”