Josh McDaniels did get the first win of his Las Vegas Raiders head coaching tenure this past Sunday, albeit it was a challenge. The head honcho threw the red flag after the officials deemed Mack Hollins’ downed punt at the two-yard line was a touchback. Upon further review, it was overturned, thus making McDaniels 1-for-1 on challenges.
In the end, however, that minor victory does little for McDaniels’ 0-3 Raiders. The team’s quest for its first win of the season continues with a Sunday afternoon date with the incoming Denver Broncos, an AFC West divisional foe. The naked eye and film review makes it quite simple in terms of what Las Vegas must do to get the elusive victory No. 1: Play complementary football for 60 minutes. But it hasn’t been so simple for McDaniels team.
The team has shown spurts of good football — as evidenced by the team being within one score when the triple zeroes hit the scoreboard dictating the end of the game. But the glimmers of a team effort are overshadowed by trip-over-themselves ball — as evidenced by lopsided efforts in certain halves or quarters.
What is McDaniels and his desert marauders going to do? Stay the course. Believe in the approach and the players.
“Yeah, I think consistency. Look, you believe in your approach, and you believe in your players. Those are two things that I would say I do wholeheartedly believe in,” McDaniels said during his Tuesday media session when asked if at 0-3 does he stay the course or turn up the urgency. “So, we know we can make better progress here as we go forward. And we know we need to do it quickly. We don’t want to lose sight of the guys that are in front of us in our division. We have two great opportunities coming up here against two division opponents. Let’s just start with week one with Denver here. and really do a good job of preparing this week.
I’ve never felt like going up and down is really the right thing to do. As a leader, being consistent with your message and what you believe in and trying to provide solutions is my job. So, that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m going to try to provide some solutions. If we need to adjust a few things, we will. If we need to practice something a little bit more, then we will. If we need to do something less, then will do that, too.”
There is something working in the favor of McDaniels’ Raiders, however. After three weeks of the regular season, the AFC West is a bit topsy turvy. The Kansas City Chiefs and Broncos are tied for first place at 2-1. The suddenly zapped Los Angeles Chargers are 1-2 and then there’s the lonely Raiders at 0-3. A win and a loss by anyone in the division means the race to the top of the AFC West mountain gets further muddled. And the Raiders could be one of the teams to muck it all up. It’s a tall task based on what we’ve all seen so far, but Las Vegas drops both Denver and Kansas City and the division standings get turned all upside down — again.
But to get there, the Raiders have to play consistent complementary football for all four quarters. All three phases — offense, defense, and special teams — making a difference and the coaches putting players in the best possible positions to succeed.
“Yeah, there’s no shortcuts to it. You can’t just say, ‘Hey, put this player out there on the field and all of a sudden, we’ll magically be consistent,’” McDaniels said. “I think consistency is really the responsibility of every man, starting with the coaching staff going to the players. It starts with our approach starts, it starts with our mindset on the day, it starts with our preparation. And if we do a good job with those things, and then we go out there and practice and we work as hard as we can to try to get it right in the practice field, then I think we give ourselves an opportunity to do more things well during the course of a 60-minute game.
“Again, there’s no there’s no pill we can take to solve that. We have the answers. We are the answers. We just need to go out there and do it with one another, and for one another, and that’s the attitude we’re going to have and that’s the way we’re going to work.”
One area that needs a massive boost is the Raiders red zone performance. An issue with the previous coaching staff, the red zone is still a dead zone for the Silver & Black. McDaniels is lauded for being creative and creating mismatches with his play design and calling acumen while the Raiders added big-time red zone killer Davante Adams. The team also added jump ball specialist Mack Hollins and re-upped tight end Darren Waller. Surely, the offensive line plays a pivotal role in the money zone, however, the musical chairs group has held up its end of the bargain while the rest of the offensive pieces go FUBAR.
#Raiders are averaging 4.46 points on red zone drives (their lowest since 2009). Their TD percentage of 46.2% is their lowest since 2012 (42.9%)— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) September 26, 2022
McDaniels was queried about the biggest issue preventing his Raiders from hitting paydirt in the red zone.
“Yeah. There’s really never one thing,” McDaniels began. We did have a few opportunities. I look at a couple opportunities in the running game we had to potentially put it into the running game before it got to a third down and goal, or those kinds of situations. We were very close a couple of times to getting it in, in the run game. And then it comes down to those, we call them four-point plays. Third down and goal in the red zone, it’s a critical play no matter when it happens because it usually is a four-point swing. And yesterday, we had one that actually turned into a seven-point swing because it ended up in a turnover. We work on it a lot. We practice it a lot. At the end of the day, they executed a little bit better than we did in that situation. But, again, there’s no shortcut to it.”
McDaniels stressed the importance of execution when it matters most and in the Raiders first three games, the opposition has be the one doing their jobs in preventing Las Vegas from hitting jackpot. And this is the defense that awaits the Raiders this coming Sunday:
After three games Broncos defense has:— Jeff Legwold (@Jeff_Legwold) September 26, 2022
--Surrendered 36 points -- 12.0 per game
--Nine sacks (five combined for Chubb and Gregory)
--Eight forced fumbles
--Three fumble recoveries
--Allowed 6.1 yards per pass attempt