Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis introduced new head coach Josh McDaniels and new general manager Dave Ziegler in a press conference on Monday.
While there is still a lot to ponder, here are some quick, early thoughts on the hirings:
- Ziegler and McDaniels are very comfortable together. They should be. They played football together at John Carroll University a quarter century ago and they both worked in Denver and in New England together. It is very clear this is a complete partnership. Ziegler said he will have final say over the roster, which is important and smart. It allows both men to focus on what they do best.
- Both McDaniels and Ziegler said nice things about Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr — but hey didn’t go too deep into Carr or any player, because they plan to closely study the roster. Ziegler was asked about the team’s approach regarding Carr as he is entering the final year of his contract. He said the first step is to get to know each other and then he stated he’s looking forward to working with him. (Both McDaniels and Ziegler spoke to Carr on Sunday.)
- Neither McDaniels nor Ziegler has any Raiders’ ties, but they both made sure to use key terms that are dear to Davis and fans. Ziegler talked about a “commitment to excellence,” mentioned Al Davis, and quoted his famous “Just win, baby” phrase. Mark Davis gleefully said the first thing McDaniels said to him was “it was a fumble.” (McDaniels’ first year in New England was the infamous Tuck Rule game season.) Davis said that Raiders fans shouldn’t worry because McDaniels has already “come to the dark side.” Perhaps that will ease some uneasiness in the fan base of this hire.
- McDaniels downplayed the importance of whether the Raiders will be a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He mentioned that most teams are in nickel defense “85 percent” of the time, anyway. He also noted that the Raiders have been a 4-3 team. So, it seems like he — and whoever his new defensive coordinator is — will be flexible.
New #Raiders coach Josh McDaniels tells me he spoke with current defensive coordinator Gus Bradley today and plans on speaking with all of the assistants still under contract, as well as other targets, before making staff decisions...— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) January 31, 2022
- Longtime Raiders’ advisor Ken Herock helped lead the coach and general manager search, Davis said.
- Davis mentioned that McDaniels’ ability to coach quarterbacks and his ability to adapt quickly were attractive to him.
- McDaniels mentioned that he has learned from his “failure’ as the Denver Broncos head coach in 2009-10 and he has learned to work better with people.
- Davis spoke very highly of former interim head coach Rich Bisaccia and thanked him for his efforts getting the team to the playoffs after the franchise was “shook to its core” when Jon Gruden was forced to resign in October. He said the team dealt with “chaos” in 2021 and Bisaccia was a great leader.
- Davis said these hires weren’t made to rebuild the team, but to take it to the next level. That’s smart ... they were 10-7 after all.