Josh McDaniels burned bridges with the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts before landing a shot at redemption with the Las Vegas Raiders. While a fair assessment can’t be made for a few years, it seems McDaniels is making a positive impression around the league.
McDaniels first became an NFL head coach in 2009 with the Broncos, hired for his offensive mind and hoped he could implement the New England Patriots model. Within two years, Denver realized it made a grave mistake.
- Josh McDaniels record: 11-17
McDaniels later returned to Bill Belichick’s coaching staff, following a one-year stint with the St. Louis Rams. When asked this offseason what went wrong during his Broncos’ tenure, the 46-year-old coach was honest about his shortcomings and need for growth.
“I didn’t really know people and how important that aspect of this process, and maintaining the culture and building the team was. And I failed, and I didn’t succeed at it. Looking at that experience has been one of the best things in my life in terms of my overall growth as a person, as a coach.”Josh McDaniels in February on why he failed as Denver Broncos head coach (H/T Pro Football Talk)
Respected around the league for his brilliant offensive mind and adaptive play-calling, McDaniels arrived in Las Vegas needing to prove himself once again. It’s going to be his last opportunity as a head coach, especially after bailing on the Colts in 2018.
While games haven’t been played, training camp is underway. Yahoo Sports’ NFL insider Charles Robinson attended practices in Las Vegas, providing several thoughts on the club and especially the offense. Most notably, he noted that McDaniels looks far more comfortable now than ever before and he is no longer acting like someone he isn’t.
Based on McDaniels’ previous admissions and reports on what transpired in Denver, it appears the Raiders will have a very different coach. By avoiding the personality that caused issues in the locker room, violated NFL rules and clashed with executives, Las Vegas should already feel optimistic.
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Far more importantly, it appears McDaniels and Raiders’ general manager Dave Ziegler aren’t repeating the same mistakes of their peers who left New England. Attempting to copy-paste the Belichick model doesn’t work without a proven track record and those who tried to re-create burned bridges with players and staff in the process.
If McDaniels and Ziegler build this team the right way, there’s no reason to think this won’t be a team on the rise in 2022. More importantly, a unique model created by two brilliant football minds will have a higher chance of sustaining long-term success.