By: Frank Schwab
The Las Vegas Raiders have their new coach, Josh McDaniels.
A day after multiple reports that he was joining the team, the former New England Patriots offensive coordinator was introduced on Monday at a Raiders news conference while donning a black suit and silver tie.
“It was going to take a special place for me to really leave where I was,” McDaniels told reporters. “And I found that here in Las Vegas.”
McDaniels, who shocked the NFL in 2018 by taking the Indianapolis Colts‘ job and then backing out before he got on a plane to finalize the deal, is finally ready to become a head coach again.
That had been a hot rumor for a week, and it got stronger when the Raiders hired Dave Ziegler of the Patriots to be their new general manager. ESPN and NFL Network reported that the Raiders had decided on McDaniels on Sunday and were working on a contract to make him their new head coach.
McDaniels hasn’t been an NFL head coach since 2010. Since then he has done a great job as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator, while flirting with many teams that had head coaching openings. He always returned to the Patriots, but something about the Raiders job must have appealed to him.
Josh McDaniels’ first head coaching job wasn’t good
McDaniels has had a notable and unusual career.
He was the hottest candidate in the NFL more than a decade ago and got the Denver Broncos‘ head coaching job in 2009, at the age of 33. It did not go well.
McDaniels turned off the locker room by shuttling out popular veterans in favor of anyone with Patriots ties, which is a common mistake among former Bill Belichick assistants. He somehow got control of the front office shortly after he was hired and his personnel decisions were bad. He drafted Tim Tebow in the first round, and that wasn’t even his most questionable move.
On the field it didn’t start that terribly. The Broncos got off to a 6-0 start in McDaniels’ first season. McDaniels’ brash style seemed to be working. Then the Broncos collapsed and finished 8-8. The next season the Broncos got caught filming a San Francisco 49ers practice in London, a violation that cost the team and McDaniels $50,000 fines. That was the beginning of the end for McDaniels in Denver, and he was fired during his second season there with a 3-9 record.
It took a long time for McDaniels to resurface as a head coach, though he agreed to take the Colts job and then backed out before he got on a plane to Indianapolis.
Still, he remained a popular candidate due to his work with the Patriots offense.
McDaniels takes on Raiders challenge
There have been many stories written through the years about how McDaniels has learned from the fiasco in Denver. The Raiders obviously believe that he’ll be totally different running a team this time around.
The Raiders passed on making Rich Bisaccia the permanent head coach, even after Bisaccia took over a tough situation during last season and led the Raiders to the playoffs. Many players said they wanted Bisaccia back. Hopefully McDaniels’ improvement in dealing with players is legitimate, because it will be tested right away.
The Raiders are coming off a playoff berth, but it will be a challenge in an AFC West against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, and Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. But McDaniels has been an excellent offensive coach his entire career, including last season’s work with rookie quarterback Mac Jones. He’ll get the most out of the Raiders’ offense.
The Patriot Way is coming to Las Vegas. When the failures of Belichick assistants are mentioned, McDaniels’ stint in Denver is mentioned prominently. The Raiders are hoping he’s a much different coach this time around. Assuming he signs the contract.