The Las Vegas Raiders came into this season with a new head coach, a new star wide receiver, and playoff expectations. After nine games so far this season, they are 2-7, and in last place in what is a very competitive AFC West. New head coach Josh McDaniels has had a lot of success in the past as an offensive coordinator, but being a head coach is completely different, and the differences are showing. Or, perhaps the Las Vegas Raiders are tanking and we haven't realized it yet.
The Loss Vegas Raiders
Last week McDaniels and the Raiders lost to Colts, who were led by first-time NFL head coach Jeff Saturday, who was hired less than a week prior to the game. Saturday had no experience coaching at a high level and was working as an analyst for ESPN before accepting the job offer. He even tweeted out, "Raiders look horrible" after they got shut out by the Saints on October 30th. While this tweet was from the analyst and not the head coach, Saturday was able to prove what he said on the field. The struggling Colts, in the midst of a coaching change, beat the Raiders 25-20 in Las Vegas, and questions about the future of the Raiders are being asked now more than ever.
This has obviously not been the season that the Raiders were hoping for, but it almost seems like this team is content with losing and being in last place. When asked about his head coach, Owner Mark Davis said that McDaniels is "doing a fantastic job," but many fans and outside perspectives would disagree. McDaniels was only a head coach one other time with the Broncos from 2009-2010, and it is no surprise that his record there was not great. His overall record as a head coach is now 13-24, and while he has an impressive resume, it is not as the true leader of a team, it is as an offensive coordinator.
With an owner who seems to be in love with his head coach whether he is winning games or not, the Raiders seem to be going nowhere this year. While this 2022 season had a lot of potentials, it is probably time for fans to join ownership in rooting for the future. If the Raiders keep losing, they might end up with the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Everyone expects the #1 pick to be a quarterback, but the Raiders already extended their franchise quarterback Derek Carr back in April after the draft.
Who's Driving this Carr?
After being selected 36th overall in 2012 by the Raiders, Carr was immediately named the starting quarterback and has kept that role since. He is the most successful quarterback in franchise history, with the most passing yards and touchdowns, and is a three-time pro bowl selection. Carr has led the Raiders to the playoffs twice, including last year, but has fallen short in the Wild Card round both times. While his individual accolades are impressive, Carr's career record as a starting quarterback is just 59-77.
With a head coach and quarterback who both have career-winning percentages well under .500, the raiders are far too invested in these positions. Carr is set to make more than $30,000,000 per year for the next three years with his new extension, and while he might be a fan favorite, he has not delivered in the way he was supposed to. The rest of the Raiders' schedule this year is no cakewalk, and they have games against the Seahawks, 49ers, and Chiefs to look forward to. It is going to take a miracle for this team to turn it around, and with the luck they have had with injuries this year, a miracle does not seem likely.
Their offense as a whole has been struggling this year, and it has not helped that they have lost two key offensive players to injury. Both Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller are on injured reserve, and the limited amount of weapons has made it difficult for McDaniels to run his style of offense that worked so well in New England. The Raiders have had success running the football, but it has not been consistent enough and has not resulted in wins.
The Time to Start Tanking is Now
The Raiders have a real chance at the top pick in next year's draft, and it will be interesting to see the direction they go. They have selected some of the worst draft classes in recent memory, and have to stop wasting these top picks. Their 2020 class consisted of seven players picked within the first 140 picks, and not a single one of them remains on the team today. They have to get it right this year or else they will have to give up on this very expensive yet talented duo of Derek Carr and Devante Adams.
The Raiders do have a good roster, and that is why no one thought they would be in this position after ten weeks, but here they are. Coach McDaniels has to get some control over his players and his team and show the organization and the fanbase that he is still the right man for the job. If the Raiders can string together some good performances in the last half of the season they will have great momentum going into 2023, a year where they will have a top draft pick and a fully healthy roster again.
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