Moral victories? Don’t approach Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels with that nonsense.
“You’re never going to hear me talk about moral victories, or anything like that, because I don’t believe in that,” McDaniels answered Monday when asked about his optimism regarding his team fighting until the end of a 24-19 loss to the Las Angeles Chargers this past Sunday. “But I liked the competitive spirit of our team. I liked the character that we displayed yesterday. I mean it’s football; you fall behind, you keep playing. Our job is to catch up, play better, coach better, and catch up. We had a chance to do that. And for that, like I said, I respect the way we played and competed. But that’s every week.”
Coming from the New England Patriots — a team accustomed to stacking Ws — McDaniels rebuke of moral victories isn’t surprising. The only wins that count are the ones that display in the standings and currently, his Raiders sit at 0-1. But so do a lot of teams.
McDaniels was encouraged by the team’s grit, but he’d like to see that for all four quarters. It’s one thing to come back and keep a game close, but it’s a whole different animal to be determined from the opening whistle and come out victorious. He was big on the “learn how to win” mantra in OTAs and training camp and Week 1 was another lesson.
There were instances in Sunday’s loss where it appeared quarterback Derek Carr could’ve scrambled to pick up yardage or move the chains. Under the previous coaching regime, the emphasis for Carr to use his legs more increased as the seasons went on. McDaniels was broached about the same topic during his media session.
“I would like that not to happen a whole lot. I’m not a big fan of our quarterbacks doing that necessarily, but if it presented itself and the situation was right of course the guys are going to do that. And Derek’s done that over his career,” McDaniels said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of rushing yesterday between the two quarterbacks. I think if it’s necessary and you need it, yes.
“Preferably, I’d like to keep that little cocoon in a nice spot and let him throw the ball from the pocket. Hopefully we can do that a little better.”
Their press conferences were a day apart but it wasn’t surprising to hear McDaniels or offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi have similar thoughts on the lack of preseason snaps for starters.
“There were definitely players that didn’t play in the preseason, but I also thought we had a lot of guys that didn’t play in the preseason that played well yesterday,” McDaniels said Monday.
“I mean, look, Davante (Adams) didn’t play in the preseason. It is what it is. I think at the end of the day, all those guys have played a lot of football and they practice every single day here since training camp for a long number of reps and things like that,” Lombardi said on Tuesday. “So, I think they’re prepared and ready to go.”
Only Thing That Matters
If you were solely looking at the sack column in either Maxx Crosby’s or Chandler Jones’ stat lines, you’d be sorely disappointed with a zero being there. But both Raiders pass rushers affected the Chargers — even if the quarterback takedowns show otherwise.
According to Pro Football Reference, Crosby was charted with six pressures to go along with four quarterback hurries and two quarterback knockdowns. Jones had two pressures, one hurry and one knockdown. Clelin Ferrell had one pressure and one hurry.
That’s all fine and dandy, but defensive coordinator Patrick Graham made no bones about what truly matters.
“I mean, again, Chan (Jones) and Maxx, they work hard every day. They go out there and compete on gameday. I mean, these guys have had a lot of success in the league and made some plays on Sunday,” Graham began on Tuesday. “When we don’t get the ‘W’, I know that’s the only thing they care about. That’s the only thing I care about.”
When a team doesn’t meet expectations — either their own or outside — there’s always disappointment and a bit of questioning. But there’s no panic for the Raiders. The team knows it’s a long season and it’s about learning from the good and bad, do more of the good and avoid the bad the rest of the way.
“It’s the beginning of the season. You just want to make sure we’re getting our fundamentals. The biggest thing is the race to improve,” Graham said. “ And that’s all we’re going to try to do and just go day by day and just try to improve. But the overreaction, I’m miserable whether we win or lose, so it doesn’t matter.”