It was a tough loss for the Las Vegas Raiders last week but we’re moving on to Week 4 and the Los Angeles Chargers. To me, this could be a big turning point in the Raiders’ season. If they win, starting 2-2 still gives them a fighter’s chance at being in the playoff hunt down the stretch, but a loss and a 1-3 record means the ship is sinking fast.
On that morbid note, let’s answer some mailbag questions!
Q: Is it fair to say so far the new regime has drafted worse? Also are you as annoyed as I am when McDaniels says “ya know” a million times in press conferences? I think he’s crumbling under frustration.
A: I definitely think it’s too soon for that to be a fair assessment. This year’s class is only three games into their careers and while they’ve been underwhelming so far, we’ve got to be more patient and give them more time to develop. Michael Mayer would be a good example of that.
Obviously, his stat line looks bad but he is getting better as a blocker and has been getting open, Jimmy Garoppolo just needs to get him the ball more often. If you’re interested, Marcus and I dove into that on the latest episode of ‘Tape Don’t Lie’ (hyperlinked).
Also, we can’t forget about the 2020 draft class that John Gruden and Mike Mayock put together. That might go down as one of the worst in league history seeing as Amik Robertson is the only one who even finished his rookie contract with the Raiders, barring him getting cut this season for some reason. McDaniels and Ziegler also haven’t drafted an Alex Leatherwood yet, who is on the Browns practice squad two years after being a first-round pick.
So, I know things haven’t been great so far with the 2023 class and this isn’t to say the current regime is good at drafting, but they aren’t quite on the GruCock level just yet. And yes, McDaniels’ “ya know’s” are a little irritating, lol. Although, I don’t have much room to talk as I have plenty of little pauses or “um’s” when I talk, as old school podcast listeners can attest!
Q: How many more losses will it take before Mark Davis realizes that McDaniels is a terrible coach and Garoppolo is a bust? No wonder San Francisco dumped him. $700 to $900 for tickets per game! No wonder there are more fans of the opposing team in-house than Raider fans.
A: I think McDaniels will get one more year after this one, but I also think he’ll dump Garoppolo by the end of the season—or earlier—to buy himself some time. That way he can lean on developing Aidan O’Connell or working with a rookie quarterback to convince Davis to give him an extra year. I know that’s not what anybody wants to hear right now, but that’s just my gut feeling on the matter. Trust me, my level of frustration with McDaniels has reached a boiling point, too.
As far as the ticket prices, I completely get where you’re coming from. Nobody wants to spend that much money on seats just to watch a crappy product on the field. I’ll take my comfy couch and cheap beer and be miserable on a budget instead.
Unfortunately, that’s one of the downsides of the move to Vegas. When the team is bad, home fans aren’t going to want to pay a lot of their hard-earned money to go to a game and just get disappointed. But since the Raiders are playing in a huge tourist destination, away fans will use the game as a vacation opportunity.
A: Honestly, I think McDaniels’ arrogance is his biggest issue. When he took over the Broncos and traded Jay Cutler, he told the team that he could make a high school quarterback look like an All-Pro. He said that as the youngest head coach in NFL history at the time, mind you.
I don’t think McDaniels has been that bad/arrogant since taking over the Raiders, but I think that mentality still exists and is a big part of the team’s offensive struggles so far. He has his system and isn’t going to budge. In a way, the situation reminds me of Paul Westhead from the '80s Lakers/Winning Time.
A: This kind of ties in with one of the previous questions, growth from this year’s draft class down the stretch of the season. Dating back to the offseason, I’ve said McDaniels won’t necessarily be judged by wins and losses this year but by the direction of the team instead.
If the young guys on the roster start showing more promise so that there’s a feeling the team will be able to compete for a playoff spot in 2024, then there’s a good chance he will keep his job. The way I’d measure this season is how the team compares to the 2015 Raiders who were young, scrappy and were in just about every game toward the end of the year.
A: Broncos, easily. The Bears offense, and the team as a whole, is a complete mess right now. Plus, Denver’s defense has to be pissed off after last week and should have some extra motivation this Sunday.
A: I hear ya on the front office not doing enough to fix the defense in the offseason and that’s something they’ll need to do a much better job of this March. But there’s not a defensive tackle available right now who would be a difference-maker and is also willing to sign with a team like the Raiders. Most of the good ones who can make a significant impact are close to or in their 30s and ring-chasing.
I think they’ll start cutting older players like Adam Butler and plucking people off of other teams’ practice squads if the season doesn’t turn around soon, but the hit rate on that is too low for them to make those moves three weeks into the year.
A: Silvera isn’t injured, he’s just a seventh-round pick who was a project when they drafted him. He was always going to need some time to develop and it’s only been three weeks so far. That being said, circling back to my answer to the last question, the rookie should get more opportunities soon if the guys in front of him don’t start picking it up.
A: The offensive line needs to get more push more consistently. Per Pro Football Focus, Josh Jacobs had 48 rushing yards in Week 1 and 43 came after contact, he had 11 yards after contact against the Bills while rushing for negative two yards, and last week was the first time he got some breathing room with 45 of 62 rushing yards coming after first contact.
Also, opposing defenses are loading up the box and forcing Garoppolo to beat them, and...well, he isn’t. So, if they can get the passing game going, that’ll help get the ground game off the ground.
Q: If Josh McDaniels gets put in concussion protocol with symptoms of being unable to think straight, and he doesn’t clear protocol by Sunday, does he have to sit out Sunday’s game and we would get next man up head coach? What does it take to put a coach into concussion protocol? McDaniels has a long-term rep of being an offensive genius but couldn’t even think by late game Sunday. Down by 8 with under 3 minutes to play said he chose to kick FG because it was a “2 possession game anyway” - wrong.
A: I take it that you guys aren’t happy with McDaniels right now. Lol, I don’t blame you. Unfortunately, I haven’t brushed up on the concussion protocol for coaches, if there is one, so I don’t have a good answer for you. And let’s cut McDaniels a break, maybe he doesn’t have a concussion and just sucks at basic math!
Q: Why can’t Raiders fans have good things?
A: We all must have done something REALLY bad in a past life. Like I’m talking about starting a ring of heinous, unforgivable crimes because this is torturous! Hopefully, the next generation is full of perfect angels.
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 SBPQuestions1@gmail.com or look for our weekly call for questions on the site. The latter will publish on Thursdays throughout the season.