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If you don’t succeed the first time, go to the dark side for redemption in Silver and Black. That’s what Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels will try to do in his second stint in charge of an NFL team.
After going 11-17 with the Denver Broncos between 2009 and 2010, McDaniels is hoping for another opportunity. Upon returning to the AFC West, he has a much better understanding of his head coaching responsibilities and how to be successful.
McDaniels’ father, Thom (who had his own coaching career at several high schools in Ohio), told The Athletic’s Vic Tafur that he thought his son took the Raiders job at a much better time in his career than when he became the head coach of the Broncos.
“As an NFL observer, I think a lot of rookie NFL coaches might not want to be desperate to get their first opportunity, but sometimes they are. I think Josh was. He there was no desperation about the second opportunity, and he’s been interviewed and part of the process more than once.”
Of course, during McDaniels’ introductory press conference with the Raiders, his decision to reject the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 and remain the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator was brought up.
“I have a huge amount of respect for (general manager) Chris Ballard, (Colts owner) Mr. (Jim) Irsay and their whole organization. They’ve been great. I think they ended up with the person they should have ended up with (Frank Reich) and I ended up where I was supposed to be.
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Composed and candid about his missteps, McDaniels spoke about the lessons he learned from his time in Denver.
“When I went to Denver, I knew a little about football. I didn’t really know the people and how important that aspect of that process and maintaining the culture and building the team was. I failed and failed to Watch this experience was one of the best things in my life in terms of overall growth as a person, as a coach.
Based on McDaniels’ assessment, he focused on the Xs and Os, but did not pay enough attention to relationships with people in the building. The Broncos fired him before the end of the 2010 season after watching his tenure deteriorate after a 3-9 streak.
So what’s different now?
McDaniels brought strong ties with him to Vegas. The Raiders signed him with general manager Dave Ziegler as a duo. They played together as collegiate teammates at John Carroll University, worked with each other in Denver, and played roles with the Patriots organization between 2013 and 2021, which included three title runs. Super Bowl.
“Our relationship has always been built on honesty and respect,” McDaniels said of his relationship with Ziegler when introduced to the media.
McDaniels has also added former Patriots coaches to his staff, which includes offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo. He has built a network of familiarity, which may help his transition from New England to Las Vegas.
With the Patriots, Lombardi served as an assistant quarterback coach and wide receivers coach between 2019 and 2021, Graham served as defensive line coach and linebacker from 2012 to 2015, and Bricillo served as an assistant coach and coach. of the offensive line between 2019 and 2021. .
Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Also of note, McDaniels accepted a job that didn’t require him to make a tough decision on the quarterback situation.
In 2010, McDaniels was influential in Denver’s decision to trade for Tim Tebow, who faltered as a pro-level passer, throwing for 2,383 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a completion rate of 47.3% as a Broncos quarterback.
McDaniels already had eyes on quarterback Derek Carr before taking the job. According to the NFL Network Ian Rapoportthe Patriots “considered trading for Carr before the season (2021)”.
While at the NFL Scouting Combine, McDaniels said Carr would be the Raiders’ Week 1 starter, and weeks later the team signed him to a three-year, $120.5 million extension and added a no-trade clause.
McDaniels doesn’t have to turn a rookie quarterback into a pro. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler who’s thrown for over 4,000 yards in each of the last four campaigns while completing at least 67.3% of his passes during that streak.
Plus, McDaniels and Ziegler didn’t have to completely demolish a Raiders roster that finished 10-7 with a playoff berth in 2021. They just needed to add to a playoff-caliber squad, and that’s what it was. is what the duo did in March.
On back-to-back days, the Raiders signed edge defenseman Chandler Jones and acquired wide Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers — two offseason splashes that will strengthen the team on both sides of the ball. They both have roster ties, underscoring the emphasis on organizational synergy in McDaniels’ second stint as head coach.
AP Photo/John Locher
As most already know, Adams played with Carr for two college years at Fresno State. Between 2012 and 2015 with the Patriots, Jones played under Graham, who coached both tiers of the top seven.
In contrast, McDaniels began a rebuilding project when he became the Broncos’ lead skipper. Under his watch, Denver traded quarterback Jay Cutler and waived Brandon Marshall after having back-to-back Pro Bowl years. Perhaps he felt the need to take this approach after the team missed the playoffs for three consecutive campaigns before his arrival.
This time around, McDaniels inherited a playoff-ready candidate with basemen in Carr, tight end Darren Waller, receiver Hunter Renfrow and point carrier Maxx Crosby. Instead of subtracting fundamentals from the roster, its front office has added two of the most accomplished veterans to their respective positions.
Although Vegas traded point pitcher Yannick Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts, Jones is an upgrade on him based on their resumes.
Clearly, McDaniels has a very different plan to build a winner than he did with the Broncos over a decade ago. While some have called it the Patriot Way, the 46-year-old has tried to break that mold and create a unique culture for his diet. Safety Duron Harmon opened up about the accolade on NFL Network Hello Football:
Pierre Schrager @Pschrags
Raiders safety Duron Harmon on new Vegas HC Josh McDaniels on @GMFB : “He is trying to create a culture that is not the patriot way.”
In his own words, McDaniels said he’s not trying to be a carbon copy of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
“I am not Bill [Belichick] and I can’t be,” McDaniels said. “I’m just going to try to be myself and hopefully I can be a good leader for our team.”
Well, McDaniels got off to a good start.
Although Belichick has shown his support for the Boston Bruins, can you imagine him throwing a siren before a hockey game with a big smile?
Since arriving in Vegas, McDaniels has demonstrated humility, a keen awareness of his past mistakes and an engaging side to his personality. More importantly, he doesn’t seem interested in emulating Patriots culture, which is notable because we’ve seen that formula die out with Belichick’s assistants in the recent past.
Brian Flores became a decent NFL head coach, but he finished his three-year tenure in Miami with a 24-25 record and no playoff appearances. Although his departure from the organization came as a surprise and is now the subject of intense scrutiny in a racial discrimination lawsuita losing case never secures anyone’s job.
ESPN Jeff Darlington also reported that Flores had a strained relationship with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and general manager Chris Grier, though Flores denied that suggestion on the I am an athlete podcast.
Matt Patricia’s Belichick coaching style didn’t sit well with the Detroit Lions, and the team relieved him of head coaching duties after going 13-29-1 from 2018 to 2020 .
As one of Belichick’s most successful assistants, Bill O’Brien led the Houston Texans to four division titles, but he struggled to build strong working relationships with his former general managers, such as Aaron Wilson and John McClain brought it back for the Houston Chronicle. O’Brien eventually took over front-office duties himself.
Maybe the Patriot Way outside of New England isn’t an effective approach, and McDaniels probably realized that coming out of Denver. If so, he’s on the right track.
While some Raiders fans may be skeptical of the idea of a Belichick assistant and former Patriots front office executive venturing on their own, McDaniels and Ziegler could be operating smoothly after their humiliating experiences with the Broncos.
Sometimes the road to success begins with early failure, but an individual’s personal growth can become the deciding factor between stories of perpetual disappointment and redemption.
McDaniels may have picked the right time and team to self-correct. He will win many more games with the Raiders than with the Broncos.
Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.