When the Raiders promoted Special Team’s Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to interim head coach following John Gruden’s resignation before week 6, many fans of the teams expected a disastrous season. At that point, the Raiders were 3-2 and getting ready to travel to Denver to take on their division rivals. After a 3-0 start and dropping their next two games, Gruden’s departure signaled an all too familiar trend amongst Raiders fans that team was getting ready to fall apart once again.
Instead, the team fought their way to a 10-7 record and a trip to the playoffs. Despite some egregious mistakes made on the field, the Raiders competed in a close game with the now Super Bowl bound Cincinnati Bengals. This put Mark Davis in an incredibly difficult position of what to do with the future of his team.
A lot of buzz around the organization was to take the off the interim tag from Rich Bisaccia and give him a real chance to lead the team for a full season. One of the biggest defenses of Derek Carr’s career has been the long list of coaches and offensive systems he has constantly been placed under throughout his career. A new coaching staff would once again force him to start over.
Despite all the surrounding conversation, Mark Davis decided he did indeed want to clean the slate and move forward with new faces for his franchise. With that, he hired former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and former Patriots director of player personnel Dave Ziegler.
Impressions from their introductory press conference
There was very little to take from Mark’s introduction of the two individuals to the Raiders organization. Both Josh and Dave made such formal and broad statements, I likely could have written their speeches for them. Ziegler even went as far as to thank his former high school coaches.
Only three pieces of information from the press conference stood out. The first being that Dave Ziegler made sure to say he gets the final say on all decisions. He will, of course, consult with McDaniels on certain things but any disagreements will ultimately end with his word.
Many Raiders fans will likely welcome such an idea considering the history of draft picks from the early rounds in the past 3 years. It appeared Jon Gruden got his eyes on certain players throughout the college football season and told Mayock who he would be selecting early.
Those players were not even necessarily expected to go in the first round like Clelin Ferrell, Josh Jacobs, Jonathon Abrams, Damon Arnette, and Alex Leatherwood. Even though Josh Jacobs has become an effective player in the offense, every one of those picks were widely considered massive reaches at the time and for good reason.
The second important note from that press conference is that the team is not fully committed to Derek Carr. Both coaches expectedly had nice things to say about the 8-year veteran but would not speak to anything past the last year of his deal for the coming season. Despite leading the team to the playoffs, it is clear they want to see what they can get from him in 2022 before confidently saying they believe he can bring the Raiders to the Super Bowl.
Lastly, it was clear that Josh McDaniels had no interest in talking about the bizarre exit he had from the Colts organization when he backed out of a deal making him the next head coach a day before they were set to hold a press conference making it official. That saga only added to the dislike many had for him following his failed tenure with the Broncos that lasted only two seasons.
This pair of hires seems to be the first real decision that Mark Davis has made as the owner of the Raiders. For the beginning of his tenure following the passing of his father, he seemed to be driven by a wave of nostalgia. No one cares more about the legacy and history of the Raiders more than Mark Davis. He wanted to run the team just like his father did.
I believe this offseason he realized he could create his own legacy and try to build up the organization his own way. Seeing him at the press conference you could tell how proud he was of himself for picking a Head Coach and General Manager he believes could usher in a new era of football for the Raiders.
Formalities displayed thus far can only carry so far as Raider Nation will undoubtedly have high expectations for a team they now believe can compete for a Super Bowl. The first test for McDaniels and Ziegler will be the NFL draft on April 28th LIVE from Las Vegas.