From the Josh McDaniels’ opening statement of his day-after media session, you could tell his Las Vegas Raiders’ trying 2022 campaign is becoming broken-record type stuff.
Once again, the head coach fielded questions from curious media on why his desert marauders continue to lack the mettle to close out games. Unlike the several press conferences that preceded Monday’s engagement, however, McDaniels cracked a little bit.
“So tired of talking about this a lot on Mondays but it is what it is,” the Raiders head coach said to close his opening statement. “We’ll try to learn the hard lessons again today and see if we can’t make some progress.”
The hard lessons keep coming for the Silver & Black, the latest a 27-20 defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a contest where Las Vegas jumped out to another 17-0 lead only to find itself unable to stop Jacksonville’s offense and score any points in retaliation. The loss was another example of the Raiders inability to adapt and learn from those brutal exercises is few and far between — if not absent. Las Vegas 2-6 overall mark is a testament to that.
“After looking at the tape, obviously it got off to a good start,” McDaniels said. “I thought we were trying to play the game the way we wanted to play the game, and then I think the biggest swing in the game was kind of from the two-minute drive they had at the end of the second quarter, then starting the third quarter with the big kickoff return, scored on that drive, and then we had the ball I think want to say for five plays or so offensively, punted it back there to them and then they drove again.
“So, I think it’s an example of how quickly games will change in this league, you know, go from 20 to 7, where we’re driving the ball at the end of the second quarter to try to see if we can make it a three score game to all of a sudden we run five plays offensively and we’re behind against a team that has an explosive group on all three phases.”
The absence of complimentary football remains a glaring omission in McDaniels’ Raiders. To the point where a loyal fanbase — Raider Nation — is descending into madness as the team nose dives to the bottom of the standings and a potential Top 5 draft pick. The finger pointing, the blame, the absolution, it’s all there. The venom spewed at the Raiders defense (or lack thereof) and offense is mighty strong these days. It’s to the point where McDaniels was asked specifically about Las Vegas’ defense and his answer was “everything”.
“Yeah, I mean, look, eventually it’s all my responsibility.” McDaniels said when asked if he’ll have to spend more time focusing on defense as he’s done as the offensive play caller as the Raiders allowed opponents to score on goal-to-go situations 15 times this year. “So, I think there’s something to be said for that. We need to figure out how to put ourselves in positions to maybe keep somebody from putting it in obviously in those types of scenarios, creating some type of a negative play would be important to us in those situations. But certainly, that’s not good enough for us, especially if we’re playing a bunch of tight games, which we’ve been in a lot of them, win or lose. Those are the sequences that ultimately end up factoring into the winning or the losing, whether you on offense or on defense.
“And so, I think we had a couple chances yesterday to add to our lead, and then they had a couple opportunities and they converted on some of theirs and we missed one of ours. So, ultimately in a tight game that’s what swings it. Everything really needs attention. I think that’s what we have to do and certainly points and turnovers are at the top of the list for sure.”
While McDaniels response regarding his defense’s inability to stop or slow the opposition rings true, so does the portion of his offense needed to score points. Las Vegas was shut out by Jacksonville in the second half this past Sunday. The much-maligned defense provided the Raiders offense four opportunities in the fourth quarter to make a valiant comeback, but no dice. All the offense could muster was 48 yards on 20 plays in those four possessions.
If you’re looking for some upheaval and wholesale changes as the Raiders embark on the second half of it’s 2022 campaign, you’re SOL, according to McDaniels.
“I definitely am not going to go in there and panic and say we need to uproot everything we’ve done,” McDaniels said noting changing four plays in the loss to Jacksonville likely results in a different outcome. “That’s not really the right thing to do. There’s things we’re doing very well, there’s things that we need to do better. And I think for us to try to figure out what those are and then address them and address them in the right way.”