The Las Vegas Raiders fell to 3-5 on Monday night, losing 26-14 to the Detroit Lions in a game that never felt that close. Few expected Josh McDaniels’ club to compete for the playoffs this year, so their record at midseason isn’t exactly surprising.
But given the Raiders’ wholly uninspired performances — and their seemingly directionless nature as an organization — it’s fair to wonder whether McDaniels could be in danger of losing his job during the season.
Is Raiders HC Josh McDaniels on the Hot Seat?
McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler — like McDaniels, a former New England Patriots staffer — immediately declared the Raiders as contenders when they took over the franchise in 2022.
Trading first and second-round picks for a then-29-year-old Davante Adams, and then extending him at $28 million per year, was a declaration of intent from McDaniels and Ziegler, who clearly believed Las Vegas could compete with the Kansas City Chiefs.
But the Raiders never came close to unseating Patrick Mahomes and Co., finishing 6-11 before using the 2023 offseason to swap out franchise stalwart Derek Carr for McDaniels favorite Jimmy Garoppolo.
Working outside of Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme in seven years, Garoppolo has disappointed, ranking just 22nd in QBR entering Week 8. He completed just 10 of 21 attempts for 126 yards and an interception while taking six sacks on MNF.
When Garoppolo missed his second game of the season in Week 7, McDaniels curiously opted to start 38-year-old Brian Hoyer against the Chicago Bears instead of rolling with fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell, who was under center when Garoppolo was out in Week 4.
Hoyer has spent 15 seasons in the NFL, including four with McDaniels in New England — you’d think the Raiders HC would have an idea of what the veteran QB is capable of at this point. There was no scenario in which those starting reps were more valuable for Hoyer than for O’Connell.
Hoyer predictably struggled against the Bears, averaging just four yards per attempt while throwing two picks. Meanwhile, Las Vegas’ defense allowed Tyson Bagent — who was starting at Division II Shepherd University at this time last year — to complete 21 of 29 attempts and toss his first NFL touchdown.
The Raiders’ loss to the Bears was a microcosm of their struggles their season and highlighted failures at several levels of the organization. Monday’s defeat highlighted Garoppolo’s problems, but McDaniels said he wasn’t “going to talk about (a quarterback change) right now.”
McDaniels also addressed Adams, who’s been open about his displeasure with the Raiders’ results and appeared beyond frustrated during tonight’s loss.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 31, 2023
“He can do what he can do,” McDaniels said. “Receivers, obviously, are last in the chain. They gotta do their job, but there’s lots of things that have to happen before the ball gets to them.
“I thought he got himself open a handful of times and had a few opportunities. Got one tipped, overthrew a couple that would have maybe been big plays.”
Adams still seems highly unlikely to be dealt before tomorrow’s NFL trade deadline, but he’s obviously unhappy. The veteran pass catcher received seven targets on Monday night, catching just one for 11 yards.
MORE: Las Vegas Raiders Depth Chart
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported during tonight’s broadcast that the Raiders probably won’t make any moves at the the deadline. And why would they? Las Vegas isn’t competing, so there’s no reason to add talent. And there are hardly any veterans on the Raiders’ roster that could bring back draft capital, assuming they aren’t interested in moving Adams or Maxx Crosby.
McDaniels has no clear plan in place, but he still probably won’t be fired in-season, if only because Las Vegas doesn’t have a clear option to become an interim head coach. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has interviewed for HC roles, but he’s also a longtime McDaniels associate, which could make a temporary promotion awkward.
The Raiders are also believed to be one of the more cash-poor franchises in the NFL. If rumors of McDaniels’ four-year, $40 million contract are correct, Las Vegas would have to eat $20 million to fire its head coach during the upcoming offseason.
For most NFL teams, this would be an easy decision. But nothing is ever simple for the Raiders.
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