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Raiders’ Rewind: A time and place

Evaluation phase for Josh McDaniels means big decision on quarterback in near future

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels finished his inaugural season in Silver & Black 6-11 overall.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

There’s no calling a 6-11 season for any football team a success in any shape or form. So it wasn’t a surprise to hear Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels to admit as much as he closes his initial year as the boss, during his Monday season-ending press conference.

“We know what the goal is here and the standard. Certainly, our record and the way we finished this year isn’t that,” McDaniels said.

Compounding his initial year as the captain of the Silver & Black ship is the fact the Raiders were a playoff team last season (10-7 overall) and to have the following year end with a top 10 draft pick wasn’t the intention. While complimenting his team on its efforts, McDaniels spoke about the next steps, too.

“I’ll start by saying how appreciative I am of the way the guys worked this year,” he said. “Obviously, they put in all the work, the effort, the time, the sacrifice. Competed really hard in every game all the way through. Very grateful for that. I thought we had great leadership this year. Our captains did a tremendous job of really setting a great example for everybody — guys that had been here before, rookies, young players.”

“And now, obviously we’ll head into an evaluation phase part of the year that everything we’ve done, our entire operation, our entire process, all of our individual performances, that’s what we want to look at,” McDaniels added. “Starting with myself and our staff and everything we’ve done to try to see every way we can improve and make our football team better.”

Noting that improvement begins with himself as chief play caller, McDaniels is expecting the same commitment — if not more — the following season as it’s going to be likely a make or break Year 2 for the McDaniels and Dave Ziegler regime. The head coach and general manager came as a combo package deal to lead the Raiders under owner Mark Davis’ watch. And while the owner may exude patience in the first year, the second season isn’t going to be as forgiving.

Especially considering McDaniels and Ziegler decided to take bold steps in a new direction, namely at the quarterback position by benching — and effectively — moving on from Derek Carr.

NFL: Houston Texans at Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler, left, will need to work with quarterback Derek Carr’s camp to find No. 4 a new home this offseason.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

“That position obviously is paramount, but it would be no different at any other position,” McDaniels noted. “But it’ll start with that, that’s the process that we’re getting ready to embark on. We have not done that yet. We will. And it’ll take us a little time because it needs to be thorough, and it deserves time. That’s what it deserves. There’s a lot that will go into that before we make any final proclamations or decisions.

“There’s a lot of people that are going to need to do some evaluating here, watch a lot of tape, have a lot of discussions that are hopefully very fruitful, and then when we’re ready to go we’ll move on.”

Las Vegas still needs to decide what it does with Carr. They have three days after the Super Bowl until guaranteed coin kicks in although both sides are reportedly looking to work together on a new landing spot for Carr. This is a result of a no-trade clause and any swap with other teams will require the quarterback to sign off on it. Either way, via trade or outright release, Carr’s days as Raiders franchise signal caller are all but over.

“Again, we’ve had a great relationship. He’s done a lot of great things and anything that’s said otherwise is incorrect,” McDaniels said. “So, we’ll look forward to that, and like I said, there will be some time between now and then.”

McDaniels couldn’t walk into the offseason slate without facing the music on the team’s much-maligned defense. Queried about Patrick Graham’s unit’s performance this past season, McDaniels was blunt but also steadfast on his “team game” mantra. As much as the defense’s job is to prevent points and create turnovers, it’s the offense’s job to score points and alleviate pressure from the defense — complementary football.

“I mean look, I don’t think anybody can sit here right now and say that we performed above our expectation,” McDaniels started. “We didn’t do enough as a football team to earn the right to keep playing. So, I don’t think - me personally, I’m not satisfied or content with any phase. That doesn’t mean we didn’t try hard. It doesn’t mean we didn’t try to do the best we could. That doesn’t mean that everybody didn’t give great effort. The reality is, we’ve got to be more productive.

“The reality is, we’re going to win or lose as a team and each phase needs to contribute to that, and honestly, we all need to do more. That’s what we’re going to do.”