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Mailbag: Is Josh McDaniels feeling the Las Vegas heat?

Returning Raider Nation’s questions for the week

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers
Josh McDaniels
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Ahead of the Las Vegas Raiders’ Week 5 matchup with the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, the frustration with Josh McDaniels among Raider Nation is certainly starting to mount as that’s the focus for a lot of this week’s mailbag questions.

Q: Why does Josh McDaniels look clueless and confused on the sidelines?

A: I think a big part of it is McDaniels is so stuck in his system and used to having success with it when Tom Brady was under center that he doesn’t understand why it’s not working without the G.O.A.T. and doesn’t know how to adjust. McDaniels has a reputation for being over-arrogant and I think we’re seeing the results of that, and he doesn’t have answers when things go wrong.

Q: My two-year-old understands situational football better than Josh. Do you think the pressure is getting to Josh? Why is our team so Bad?

A: Yes, I think the pressure is starting to get to the head coach. His comments about Aidan O’Connell’s performance against the Chargers really struck me that he’s starting to point the finger at other people. To me, that’s a sign of someone who isn’t secure about their job security and starting to crack.

The team is bad for a lot of reasons, one being that they ignored a lot of their needs in the offseason; cornerback, linebacker, defensive tackle, guard, etc. The Raiders also have the fifth-most cap space dedicated to offensive players, per Spotrac, and haven’t scored more than 20 points. They’re poorly managed, not well put together and underachieving.

Q: So you think JMD purposely put Patrick Graham in a position to lose his job against the Steelers so he could have a good reason to fire him to use him as a scapegoat?

A: Purposely, no. But as I mentioned above, I do think he’s looking for scapegoats to try and save himself. However, I don’t know how well that’s working since the defense isn’t nearly as big of a problem as the offense right now, and the offense has more talent to work with.

Q: Will we continue to suffer this horrible ownership? Do you think he can give me a 70% discount? I just want a small stake also, I deserve it more than Brady.

Connecticut Sky v Las Vegas Aces
Tom Brady, Mark Davis
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A: The organization's value has skyrocketed since the move to Vegas, so I don’t think Mark Davis is going to be giving up his majority stake in the team anytime soon. I think MD will be around for a while, but he doesn’t have any kids so he’ll be the last generation of the Davis family to own the Raiders, barring the 68-year-old spawning in the near future.

As for the Tom Brady ownership news, I don’t really know what Davis is trying to do other than make friends with Brady. If I had to guess, I think Mark is trying to lower his inheritance tax for when his mom, Carol, passes. Granted, I’m not an attorney or well-versed in how inheritance works in this situation, but that’s just what makes sense to me.

Q: I understand Mr. Davis supporting his choice of head coach but to tell us to “smarten up!” McDaniels was a bust in Denver and I’m not seeing any improvement here. We don’t have a Tom Brady. Rich Bisaccia had the respect of that locker room. And they’re telling me that Garoppolo was a step up from Carr? Not buying it. Other than Adams and Crosby and possibly Jacobs, who else stands out? The defense secondary still looks lethargic. So where does the blame fall? Bad scouting, bad player development? It has always started at the top. That’s Mr. Davis and McDaniels. Why in the world would Tom Brady want even a minimal part ownership here? Tax write-off?

A: I get the feeling this is more of a rant than a question (lol), but I do agree that the blame starts at the top. As you said, Davis made the choice to move on from Bisaccia and hire McDaniels and the Raiders have regressed ever since. So, while everything you pointed out is a problem and has contributed to the team’s lack of success, the blame should primarily be on the person who put those people in their respective positions.

It would have been one thing if Bisaccia didn’t lead Las Vegas to the playoffs, but he did, and Davis’ decision to move on has blown up in Davis’ face.

Q: Why do you think Josh McDaniels told the press that the Raiders gave defending against Khalil Mack extra attention most of the game when that clearly isn’t true per the film and per Mack himself? McDaniels said the Raiders threw the kitchen sink at Mack-chipped, jammed, ribbed, doubled.

A: That’s another sign to me that he’s feeling the heat and trying to protect his job security. You see this a lot with coaches when they’re on the hot seat, they’re talking to the owner with those types of quotes and trying to deflect blame. It kind of reminded me of a couple of years ago when Urban Meyer was coaching the Jags and said their third-round pick, Andre Cisco, got a few snaps and was in their defensive back rotation. Cisco had zero (0) snaps in the game Meyer was referring to.

Q: Matt, has McDaniels lost the locker room? He seems to be the same hard-headed, uninspiring finger-pointer he was in Denver.

A: It definitely seems that way as we’ve gotten to the point where players liking something on social media about the head coach getting fired has become news. I know other people who cover the Raiders have pointed to the fact that while players aren’t publically bashing McDaniels, they also aren’t showing support for him.

While that could be a sign the team is done with its head coach, I’ve always felt like the “lost the locker room” argument is more hyperbolic, unless someone like Maxx Crosby or Davante Adams calls out McDaniels in the media. If a player is willing to do that and put their name on it, that’s big trouble for the guy who is supposed to be leading them.

Q: What do u think about them bringing in Pola-Mao to play some linebacker in obvious passing situations?

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Rams
Isaiah Pola-Mao
Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

A: I’ve been pretty frustrated with the Raiders’ linebackers over the last two weeks, so at this point, I’d say why not give it a try? Isaiah Pola-Mao is pretty light for a linebacker though which can make it difficult for him to cover tight ends in man coverage, but again, the team doesn’t have anything to lose at this point, so there’s no hurt in seeing what happens. Granted, Pola-Mao was a healthy scratch last week so I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for this to happen.

Q: Thayer Munford replaced Eluemunor at RT for 7 reps and also had one at jumbo TE on Sunday vs. Chargers. How do you think he played in game? What is your overall assessment of his current abilities? Should he replace Eluemunor at starting RT? Why/ why not?

A: To be honest, I haven’t watched Munford in-depth enough this season to have a great read on how well he specifically has looked in his limited snaps. But if Eluemunor continues to struggle against the Packers, I think you have to try something else and make the switch.

Q: Why hasn’t there been more discussion about the offensive line? They looked terrible last week and RT has been a weak spot all season?

A: I can’t speak to what other people have written and/or talked about, but Marcus and I dove into the offensive line on our film review after the Chargers game on ‘Tape Don’t Lie’, and I’ve called out the line in my ‘Winners and Losers’ column over the last two weeks. I don’t know what you mean by “more”, but I feel like I’ve touched on it quite a bit.

Eluemunor has definitely played poorly the last two weeks, but he was solid in the first two. So, I can’t agree that right tackle has been an issue all year. He does need to turn it around, though.

AOC or Jimmy? Who would you start?

A: If I’m calling the shots, O’Connell because I think this season is lost at this point. The playoffs are pretty much out of the picture at 1-3 and Garoppolo was never the long-term plan, so you might as well see what you have in the rookie to help determine how aggressive you want to be in the quarterback market this offseason.

I made a fan post about this, but I'd like to hear your take. Is it worth taking a shot on Randy Gregory on a one year prove it deal? We desperately need help on the Dline.

A: I’d stay away from Gregory. He turns 31 next month and is injury-prone, so I don’t think he’d have a long future in Las Vegas even if he does play well on a prove-it deal. Plus, I’d rather see young guys like Malcolm Koonce and Tyree Wilson get more playing time to develop.

Question for Matt: Why is our 2023 draft class performing so poorly? Wilson, Mayer, Young, Tucker. Our top 4 picks either have been injured, look like projects, are left off the game day roster, or are too much of a liability to stay on the field. What happened?

A: I know Michael Mayer hasn’t put up many stats, but I do think he’s been getting better. He’s been open and just not getting the ball, and his run-blocking looks much improved from the preseason. Wilson was always going to take time with that foot injury that caused him to miss several months of practice.

In my opinion, Young was over-drafted by at least a round and he’s been playing slower than what he showed at Alabama, causing him issues as a run defender which led to the healthy scratch last week. I never really expected much from Tucker in year one since he was coming into a situation where being the fourth receiver behind Adams, Jakobi Meyers and Hunter Renfrow would be an accomplishment.

Matt, I posed this question in a thread earlier in the week: we aren't involving the TEs at all in the passing game. Is it the QB? Is it the coach? is it the TEs themselves?
What's up with this, do you know?

A: This question is somewhat related to the last one as Mayer has been open several times this year and just hasn’t gotten the ball thrown his way. I also think McDaniels could do more to get the tight ends involved. A screen to Mayer or even Austin Hooper would undoubtedly catch the defense by surprise. And they could do more clear-out routes where the receivers go deep and a tight end runs a short drag or leaks out late to make something happen after the catch. The Raiders started doing that with Josh Jacobs last week and Jacobs ended up as the team’s leading receiver.

So, to answer your question, it’s a combination of both the quarterback and play calling, and I’d argue the tight ends are the least to blame in this situation.

That’ll do it for this week’s mailbag. Thank you all for submitting questions and, as your weekly reminder, if you’d like to have your questions answered in a future column, tweet them at me, @MHolder95, email them to or look for our weekly call for questions on the site. The latter will publish on Thursdays throughout the season.