After a roller coaster season, the Las Vegas Raiders decided to clean house, named a new face of the franchise by hiring head coach Josh McDaniels and added Dave Ziegler as their general manager.
Both McDaniels and Ziegler played a critical role in the New England Patriots‘ last three Super Bowl victories, and during free agency they made it clear they want former Patriot players on their roster to create a winning culture.
This is a bold move, because former assistants from the Bill Belichick coaching tree have tried to find similar success recently and the results have been dreadful.
Bill Belichick's coaching tree over the years:
Joe Judge, NYG: 2 years
Brian Flores, MIA: 3 years
Matt Patricia, DET: 3 years
Bill O'Brien, HOU: 7 years
Josh McDaniels, DEN: 2 years
Romeo Crennel, CLE: 4 years
Eric Mangini, NYJ, CLE: 3 years, 2 years
Nick Saban, MIA: 2 years
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 11, 2022
This will be McDaniels’ second opportunity to lead a NFL franchise. He previously was the head coach for the Denver Broncos and had some success early, but things came crashing down fast. His two year tenure with the Broncos will be remembered for SpyGate 2, where he was fined by the NFL $50,000. Shortly afterward, he was fired with a 11-17 record with Denver.
A decade later, McDaniels is now 45 years old, and he discussed the lessons he learned from his stint with Denver and how he has grown.
“When I went to Denver, I knew a little bit of football,” McDaniels said. “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. What do I need to do different, how do I need to handle my role, if I have another opportunity, and do better at it? I feel like that’s really an area that I’ve tried to grow in.”
— Chris Maathuis (@sports8) January 31, 2022
The Raiders have been wheeling and dealing this off-season by trading for superstar wide receiver Davante Adams, pass rusher Chandler Jones and adding several former Patriots like QB. This is not unusual for coaches from Belichick’s coaching tree to go on a spending spree to try to vastly improve the roster.
Matt Patricia was the Detroit Lions head coach for three years, but despite signing Trey Flowers and other former Patriot players, the team never bought in. Patricia was often criticized for the way he tried to discipline his team along with trying to use Belichick tactics.
You might as well call them the Las Vegas Raiders AKA “Patriots West.”
It’s not just Belichick’s former players Vegas is poaching (five of them, to be exact, so far: CB Cre’Von LeBlanc, DE Chandler Jones, RB Brandon Bolden, FB Jakob Johnson, QB Garrett Gilbert).
According to Yahoo.com, “The Raiders’ new head coach and general manager have already stocked their coaching staff with their former New England Patriots colleagues, including offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi, offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo, quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree, senior offensive assistant Jerry Schuplinski and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.”
Being around coach Belichick tends to make assistants duplicate his strategy. Patricia did his version of Belichick in Detroit, and Joe Judge did his best interpretation when he was New York Giants head coach the past two seasons. Both versions led to them getting fired and back with New England as assistants.
The #Patriots style practices were not popular, even among players who liked Judge. Only got more unpopular are injuries mounted. But #Giants are among leaders in @ManGamesLostNFL since 2009. Not just a 2-year issue https://t.co/AetNCSgS3h
— Ryan Dunleavy (@rydunleavy) January 27, 2022
An NFL head coach is a leader of men, which is why it is important to be oneself. Brian Flores was fired after three years with the Miami Dolphins, but Flores has recently been the best coach from the Belichick coaching tree. Flores had back-to-back winning seasons and brought to light the internal dysfunction that was happening in the Miami Dolphins organization. In spite of dealing with an owner he alleges was actively trying to lose and get rid of their quarterback, Flores kept his team ready to play.
Flores went 24-25 in three seasons with the Dolphins and kept them in playoff contention even with lackluster quarterback play. He was able to enhance Miami’s roster during the offseason by focusing on signing key defensive players. The news of his firing left players around the league surprised.
Las Vegas trading away multiple picks for Adams is a sign that McDaniels is already doing things differently from New England. The Raiders are also rumored to be interested in signing Stephon Gilmore. Las Vegas have already signed the aforementioned Jones to pair with Maxx Crosby to prepare for the elite quarterbacks in the AFC.
The money is going to the right places, because in order to be competitive in their division they will need to score points and sack quarterbacks. The offensive role players from New England will assist the rest of the team in learning the playbook quickly.
This is likely to be McDaniels’ last chance at being a head coach in the NFL. His growth as a person puts him in a different position when compared against Patricia or Judge. At this point in his career Josh understands he has to do things his way to succeed.
After working on his communication skills, McDaniels believes he is ready to run a team effectively. If not, the Belichick coaching tree will continue to meet mixed results.