With a bad taste in his mouth over starting his Las Vegas Raiders’ coaching career with a Week 1 loss, Josh McDaniels and his staff have switched their attention fully on Sunday’s home game against the Arizona Cardinals.
After losing at the Los Angeles Chargers 24-19, McDaniels is focused on winning his first home game at Allegiant Stadium against the Cardinals, who are coming off a 23-point home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Still, McDaniels knows his team has things to correct on both sides of the ball (pass protection on offense and consistent pass coverage on defense stand out). Often, Week 1 performances don’t reflect the rest of the season for teams, but McDaniels knows his team has work to do.
“I’d love to be able to say that I could guarantee (instant Week 2 improvement), but that wouldn’t be an accurate statement,” McDaniels said this week. “I don’t think it’s fair to put that kind of a burden on one person or one unit to say, ‘Hey, this is our only chance to really take a big step.’ I think it happens organically.
“When we see it clearly, we understand what it is we all need to do a little bit better, and then we make those necessary adjustments during the week of practice and then play that way to get the results we’re talking about. Sometimes, just saying, ‘if you do this, this will happen’, isn’t enough. You have to work at it in practice, you have to get some results on the practice field first. And there are certain things that we’re doing well, and then there’s other things we’re not.
“I think you got to coach those things as hard as you can this week. Get them to trust it, believe in it, and then go out and do it in a game, and then when you get the results in a game then it kind of starts to sink in like, ‘Yeah, this is a good formula for us.’ There were certain things we understand, and I think that we’ll see another opportunity here today to fix some of those things and make ourselves better.”
While he is disappointed by the loss to the Chargers, McDaniels knows not all was bad and he saw things the team can build upon this week headed into the Arizona game.
“I’ll start with our effort and competitiveness. Like I said, that’s a good football team. They got a lot of good players, we know that,” McDaniels said. “They’re very well-coached. This team, last year, had been in two close games with them before. We felt like it would be a situation where we’re probably going to come down to the fourth quarter. We talked about that a lot of last week, and that’s the kind of game it was.
“I thought we did a decent job of containing a few of their really big play players. [Mike] Williams, we tried to do a good job of limiting his overall production. And I know [Keenan] Allen went out of the game, and he had a few big ones before he went out of the game. And then we tried to tackle [Austin] Ekeler as best we could, he’s really a good player. I thought we did that decent. We didn’t run it enough because of the score and the way the game kind of ended up going, but I thought when did there was some production there.
“A lot to be learned, more to be had in every phase, no question about it. I thought we had a chance at a punt block and just missed it, but those are things that happen. This game is not a game of what-ifs, it’s a game of what happened. We’re going to learn from those things today.”