NFL winners and losers: Josh McDaniels is killing the Raiders

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It’s a very terrible morning for the Las Vegas Raiders. As Monday dawned following Week 3 the Raiders discover themselves as the one 0-3 group within the NFL, lagging behind within the AFC West, and with some main soul looking to do.

It wasn’t way back that the Raiders have been being earmarked to make noise, and rightfully so. A playoff group a 12 months in the past, Las Vegas stocked as much as the moon for 2022 with a splashy signings and trades designed to mitigate their greatest weaknesses. The group wanted move rush, so it spent $51M on Chandler Jones, it wanted a high large receiver, so Vegas traded a 1st and 2nd spherical decide for Davante Adams. Hell, the group was even aggressive find a coach, convincing Josh McDaniels to return to the AFC West after years of flirtation with returning to the pinnacle teaching life.

Now, three weeks in, it’s a rattling mess. Jones has but to register a sack, Adams is on tempo for 1,071 yards (his lowest full-season whole since 2016), and McDaniels seems to be utterly out of his depth — simply as he did in 2010 with the Broncos. If all this wasn’t dangerous sufficient, the remainder of the group is taking part in right down to this stage. Derek Carr is struggling within the new Raiders’ offense, Josh Jacobs isn’t capable of carry and elevated load at operating again, and the Darren Waller breakout so many predicted, properly, it simply hasn’t occurred.

That’s a complete lot of issues going improper unexpectedly, and the nexus of all that is McDaniels. When you assume that’s unfair, then say “hello” to Josh on the subsequent household reunion, as a result of it’s a must to be associated to the man. Let’s be actual: Hiring McDaniels was at all times a leap of religion. There’s a motive why McDaniels was a perennially scorching commodity earlier than groups determined to go in different instructions. There was prevailing knowledge in lots of soccer circles that he was a fraud, however McDaniels was a splashy rent, one for title recognition, and the Raiders love making splashy teaching hires.

It’s arduous to think about this man has ever made a mistake.
Picture by Silas Walker/Getty Photos

I yearn to have the self-confidence McDaniels does in relation to his job. The person is devoid of impostor syndrome. He really believes he’s the second coming of Invoice Belichick, a soccer genius, and no one goes to say in any other case. It’s this sort of bravado that led to McDaniels turning down head teaching jobs as he waited for the appropriate second, and strolling right into a playoff group in Las Vegas was, on paper, the proper state of affairs for an oft-critiqued coach who will eternally be linked to deciding on Tim Tebow with a 1st spherical decide —ruining the Broncos for years consequently.

The worst half about all that is that I had a sense this may occur. McDaniels to the Raiders acquired certainly one of my lowest grades once I rated every new head teaching rent again in February, and on the time this was my feeling:

“I don’t like this. Las Vegas was a playoff group already, and I believe McDaniels likes to get cute only for the sake of getting cute. He’s inherited an already established group, and I can’t assist however assume he’s going to do one thing to mess with it.”

Properly, guess what people? He’s messing with it. This goes far deeper than merely integrating Davante Adams into the offense — McDaniels has utterly modified the elemental components of the offense, and the group is completely not higher for it. There are a couple of key stats that inform the story right here:

  • Carr’s meant air yards have dropped from 8.1 to 7.6 from 2021 to 2022
  • Hunter Renfrow’s depth of goal has decreased from 6.5 yards to three.1 yards from 2021 to 2022
  • Solely two Davante Adams (10.8) and Darren Waller (10.6) have a mean depth of goal larger than 10 yards this season, in comparison with 4 receivers a 12 months in the past
  • The Raiders are blitzing twice as typically on protection as they have been a 12 months in the past

These offensive points are of specific concern. The whole rationale behind buying and selling for Adams was that he might stretch the sector and supply a deep risk, which might then open up YAC lanes for Renfrow and Waller — besides that isn’t taking place. As a substitute of Renfrow catching the ball and making a fast first transfer towards linebackers, the offense is giving the field a 3 yard cushion to pursue, which is destroying his productiveness. In the meantime Waller, who’s at his finest catching behind linebackers on the 7.5-9 yard depth vary, is as a substitute being requested to go deeper — and combat safeties and nickel corners for the ball, which isn’t his sport.

There are groups within the NFL who’re utilizing fast, YAC-based passing to large success, however the Raiders don’t have the personnel for it. Renfrow will not be Tyreek Hill, he’s not Cooper Kupp — he can’t catch the ball behind the road of scrimmage and make one thing out of nothing. Attempting to make use of him this manner is a waste of his means, and it’s leaving him on an island whereas Adams and Waller run depth.

This lack of personnel understanding is going on on protection too. Vegas is being pointlessly over-aggressive with its linebackers and safeties on blitzes, which is ok you probably have the corners for it — however the Raiders don’t. The limitless blitzing isn’t producing stress (the group has 2.0 sacks on the season), and the secondary is struggling to cease the move (rating twenty ninth within the NFL in move protection).

Every thing about this Raiders group is worse in 2022, and McDaniels has a hand in all of it. The gamers deserve higher, the followers deserve higher, and Mark Davis is getting exactly what he deserves for making this silly hiring.

It goes with out saying that the Raiders are a loser for the week.

Winner: RANDOMNESS

Welcome to the 2022 NFL, the place the whole lot is made up, and the factors don’t matter. When you thought the weirdness was going to finish with 2021, don’t fear as a result of it has nothing on this season thus far — and I’m in love.

The NFL has at all times been this paragon of parity. A shining instance of sports activities carried out “the appropriate approach,” however this at all times felt labored as hell. Certain, we obtained some random week-to-week outcomes, however not this stage of constant, not possible to foretell weirdness.

Right here’s one bizarre flowchart that sums up the primary three weeks:

  1. The Vikings beat the Lions
  2. The Lions beat the Commanders
  3. The Commanders beat the Jaguars
  4. The Jaguars shut out the Colts
  5. The Colts beat the Chiefs

Inside all this mess you’ve got the Eagles, who beat the Vikings, Commanders, and Lions. I believe which means Philly is the most effective group within the NFL? Or possibly it means nothing? Who is aware of!

Winner: The Miami-freaking-Dolphins

The Dolphins are atop the AFC East, and I’d like to gush about them extra — however the entire “placing our concussed QB again on the sector and blaming it on a again damage” has me feeling a bit icky.

Loser: Tom Brady

It isn’t typically Brady is ever on this facet of the ledger, however right here we’re. It’s probably not something No. 12 did, or didn’t do on Sunday — however fairly the whole means of returning to the NFL this season.

I do know all of the rumors about Brady going to the Dolphins labored his return from retirement a bit, however this entire season will not be going properly. The Buccaneers are combating Todd Bowles as head coach, and I don’t actually care that this group is 2-1. They beat an imploding Cowboys group in Week 1, a hapless Saints in Week 2, after which misplaced to the Packers — who’re a shadow of themselves in 2022.

Tom might have been kicking again, incomes a boatload as an announcer, and never getting hit into oblivion every week solely to limp to an eventual NFC South Championship (as a result of the division is ass) earlier than getting bounced within the playoffs.

Tampa Bay simply isn’t good this 12 months, and Tom had the possibility to hold it up and exit on high after 2020.

Winner: Jalen Hurts

Right here’s a man who’s taking part in out of his freaking thoughts proper now, and it’s fairly superior. When you haven’t watched Hurts play in 2022 you’re actually lacking out, as a result of it’s like he’s a brand new participant. We went from a quarterback in a “show it” 12 months, to extraordinarily untimely MVP discuss — hell, he seems to be like certainly one of solely a few dudes who might push Josh Allen this 12 months.

Hurts was functionally good towards the Commanders on Sunday. He threw for 340 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions — operating for one more 20 yards, only for good measure. Hurts is flourishing in Nick Sirianni’s offense, as many hoped he may, and the 3-0 Eagles appear like the whole lot the Radiers wished they’d be in 2022.

Winner: Followers who love seeing a ball get punted right into a butt

Loser: Justin Fields

Man, I hate dumping on a child like this, however we’ve obtained to start out asking some questions right here. I perceive that the Bears have a foul offensive line, an offense that may’t let him shine, and that they’re severely missing receiving weapons — however we are able to’t use that to utterly hand wave away how terribly Fields is taking part in proper now.

Chicago one way or the other received on Sunday regardless of Fields having the worst QB sport of the week. Cling this stat line within the Louvre, as a result of ache might be artwork too:

8-for-17, 106 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT

These two interceptions have been dangerous, actually dangerous. If it wasn’t for Khalil Herbert obliterating everybody in his path en path to 157 dashing yards, the Bears would have been blown out.

Winner: The Panthers protection

We won’t give credit score to Baker Mayfield or Matt Rhule round these elements, however you’ve actually gotta watch this Panthers protection as a result of they’re enjoyable as hell.

Okay, I take that again, no one ought to willingly watch a Carolina Panthers sport if you happen to don’t have a rooting curiosity — however my common level type of stands. This protection is aggressive, it’s fast-paced, it’s enjoyable as hell, and it’s loaded with devices and trickery.

The Panthers have a lower than zero % likelihood of profitable towards the Saints on Sunday if it wasn’t for his or her protection, and actually it may be probably the greatest models within the NFL — it’s only a disgrace the offense is so abysmal to associate with it.

Winner: Trevor Lawrence, and actually the whole lot the Jaguars are doing

Every thing is arising roses in Jacksonville, and it begins with Trevor Lawrence. The change to Doug Pederson is paying off massive time, and Lawrence is responding in a significant approach to the construction the group has now.

Subsequent to Jalen Hurts, no one is extra improved thus far this season that Lawrence, who has now cemented why he was the No. 1 total decide so many had pegged for greatness. The child is slinging the ball round, throwing to eight completely different receivers on Sunday, it’s opening up the bottom sport for James Robinson and Travis Etienne, and it’s actually lovely.

None of this may actually be potential with out the protection, which is completely smothering everybody it comes throughout. There was nothing the Chargers might do towards this unit on Sunday, and Devin Lloyd is already wanting like one of many greatest steals within the draft.

Don’t sleep on this group anymore, as a result of they’re actually rattling good — and might be making lots of waves quickly.

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