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Raiders offseason 2023: Patriot Games in Las Vegas?

Raiders are leaning in even harder to New England ways

Las Vegas Raiders Introduce Free Agent Signings
New Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Jakobi Meyers noted the “Patriot Way” is putting the team before yourself.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Jakobi Meyers was quick to point out what the “Patriot way” means during his introductory press conference last week.

“Honestly, if I could sum it up simply it’s just putting the team before yourself,” the Las Vegas Raiders new wide receiver said.

New quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said something similar when asked what the Patriot method is, too.

“You have to be willing to be unselfish for your teammate,” Garoppolo noted during his intro to the media last week.

Unselfish and putting the team before yourself. Looking at the macro view of the Raiders offseason, one would be hard pressed to say that’s what the team’s power structure of general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels are doing. Our Bill Williamson did a solid job laying out how McDaniels seems to be repeating what he did with the Denver Broncos.

The decision-making by Ziegler and McDaniels, along with the resulting path, hasn’t been linear and is difficult to follow — let alone decipher. There’s likely a destination set squarely in the sights of the general manager and head coach, but the micro view is disconcerting. Take for example the dismissal of longsnapper Trent Sieg and the addition of Jacob Bobenmoyer to replace him. Granted, the position isn’t the sexiest on a 53-man roster and special teams coordinator Tom McMahon is familiar with Bobenmoyer. But Sieg was a stalwart at the position and wasn’t a liability.

More importantly, he built a rapport and synergy with punter/holder AJ Cole and kicker Daniel Carlson.

The move seems to fly in the face of “putting the team before yourself”.

Yet, despite both Ziegler and McDaniels stating previously they’ll forge a distinct identity and method in Las Vegas, the team has leaned heavily into the Patriot way. Thus Patriot Games in the desert. And we shouldn’t be surprised. Ziegler and McDaniels were steeped in those ways in Foxboro, after all.

Houston Texans v Las Vegas Raiders
Despite saying otherwise, Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels, left, and general manager Dave Ziegler are planting a Patriot Way flag in the desert.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

While the method in New England, forged by disciplinarian Bill Belichick, rarely works outside the confines of Foxboro, it’s what is being instilled in Las Vegas — for better or worse.

“So, it might end up being the Raider way, because I feel like I’m the type of guy who’s really big on family,” Meyers said. “So, this is my family now, I’ve got to put my family before myself, and whatever I can do to help my family and help us grow as a team, as people, I’m going to try to do that.”

That all said, Meyers — who had a successful 2022 campaign for the New England Patriots — and Garoppolo — who had quite the up and downs for the San Francisco 49ers — followed McDaniels to the desert. Several other former Patriots did too. While many things can be said about the Raiders head coach, “smart” is a term used by the Raiders new quarterback and previous one Derek Carr.

“For me, it starts with, he’s very smart. He’s very smart. He taught me the game of football basically in the NFL,” Garoppolo said. “But he cares too about the game like he cares about winning. You could really tell just talking to him that winning is important to him, and I wouldn’t say that’s true about everyone in the NFL. So, when you do get an opportunity like that, I mean, it’s hard to pass up.”

Ditto for new speed receiver Phillip Dorsett — who had previous stints in New England.

“Me and Josh always had a good connection. I was always a guy that can play all three positions,” Dorsett said. “His football mind is just out of this world, man. He’s really smart when it comes to football and just putting things together, putting game plans together, multiple personnels and stuff like that.”

Meyers harkened on developing under McDaniels as well.

”His thing is just ironing out all the details. I feel like if you take care of the little things with Josh, it’ll make sure all the big things are erased,” the wide receiver said. “So, he definitely drilled home focusing on every single detail if that’s route depth, step count, inside leverage, winning outside, he made sure he drilled it. And if you didn’t do it the way he liked it, you repeated it. Like I said, it helped me as a man grow because it made me focus on the little things that matter in life not just football.”

As the Raiders continue through the offseason, don’t be surprised if more former Patriots are added to echo the sentiments above.

Will it work?

Ziegler and McDaniels have no choice but to make it work.