Many eyebrows were raised when the Las Vegas Raiders hired Josh McDaniels as head coach this offseason. He’s been one of the better offensive coordinators in the NFL over his career but previously failed as the head coach of the Denver Broncos. Since taking the job, he’s spoken quite a bit about his mistakes in Denver and how he’s different now.
The Raiders have started off 0-3, which has led many to question if McDaniels truly has changed. He’s admitted that he failed as a head coach because he didn’t understand the people side of football. He hasn’t gotten into detail but some information has been revealed ahead of the Raiders Week 4 matchup against Denver.
Former Broncos offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus played under McDaniels for a season and did not have a good experience. He put the coach on blast and aired out a lot of his dirty laundry in a Twitter thread. Notably, Polumbus says that McDaniels told the team after they traded quarterback Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears to not “worry about the QB situation, I can turn a [high school] QB into an All-Pro.”
Another concerning tidbit was that McDaniels used to spend 10 minutes every day showing the team a “bad football reel” where he would rip players and coaches.
Polumbus also shared an interaction he had with an unnamed coach where the coach got honest about what it was like to work for McDaniels in Denver:
After the season I had an exit interview w/ my coach. He spent 10 min telling me everything I sucked at but he looked so depressed and miserable that when he was done I didn’t care what he said about my play, I was concerned for him… “Coach are you alright”. Response.. “That’s a hard man to work for”. Me..”So are you coming back?” Coach..”Hell no.” Me..”you getting fired or leaving?” Coach..”I don’t care but I’m getting the hell out of here”
Polumbus Praises McDaniels’ Understanding of Football
McDaniels’ problem has never been his understanding of football. His issues stemmed from how he handled relationships with players and coaches. Polumbus praised McDaniels’ knowledge of the game but is cautious if the coach has truly changed.
“I will cap this thread off w/ 1 final thought. … Josh knew the X’s and O’s as well as any coach I’ve been around,” Polumbus wrote. “You won’t hear any former players saying he doesn’t know football. He just didn’t know how to handle people. He says he has learned from his mistakes. Time will tell.”
Has McDaniels Changed?
There’s no denying that McDaniels’ stint with the Broncos was a disaster. He’s essentially admitted that himself. He spent a long time under New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who is famously cold and tough. That style can be effective if you’re winning Super Bowls but it’s much more difficult to get players to buy in if they aren’t winning.
McDaniels has had heated moments in practice since taking over the Raiders but there’s been no word of him having the same issues he’s had with the Broncos. The players appear to like him and have yet to speak poorly of their coach. The Raiders are struggling but that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how he’s handling people in the building. As Polumbus said, time will tell if McDaniels has what it takes to be a head coach.