Josh McDaniels Makes For A Better Assistant Than Head Coach

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Josh McDaniels Makes For A Better Assistant Than Head Coach


Josh McDaniels Makes For A Better Assistant Than Head Coach


Ethan Miller/Getty Images

At 0-3 the Las Vegas Raiders were a team that was supposed to compete for the AFC West Title, and possibly a dark-horse contender for the Super Bowl. They were aggressive in the offseason by being bold in free agency and via the trade market. 

When the Raiders needed help for the pass rush, it spent $51M on Chandler Jones. When they needed a top-tier wide receiver, they made a trade, they spent a 1st and 2nd round pick for Davante Adams. Las Vegas would then go “all in” finding a head coach, convincing Josh McDaniels to return to the AFC West after years of flirting with another head coaching job. Owner Mark Davis did the work. He hired an “offensive guru” to elevate a 2021 playoff team to bigger and better. Under McDaniels, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr would have an opportunity to thrive and be a key driver in getting his team not just into the playoffs, but beyond. With three weeks into the 2022 season, the wheels are coming off, and the potential for disaster looms large.

Bad Decisions All Around The Raiders

So, just how bad has it gotten in Las Vegas? Their $51M pass rusher hasn’t had one sack. Top wide receiver and big time ‘get’ in Adams isn’t faring much better, and is on the same pace he had in 2016 when he had $1,071 yards. He’s tinkered with the offensive line as if it were still the preseason, and Carr, running back Josh Jacobs, and Darren Waller are treading water in an offensive system that can’t get off of the ground.  

To look at Josh McDaniels through the lens of what it takes to not just be, but win games as an NFL head coach reveals that McDaniels isn’t cut from that cloth. He was hired by the Denver Broncos in 2009, and was fired in December 2010 in large part due to drafting quarterback Tim Tebow. McDaniels would select the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time National Champion from Florida with the 25th overall pick. The price tag for Denver was high, as the trade with the Baltimore Ravens would send the Broncos’ second, third and fourth round picks to Charm City. From there, the dye would be cast for McDaniels and for Tebow. 

A Mile High Experiment Goes Bad Fast

Hired by Denver on January 11th, 2009, the new head coach would begin to make decisions on high profile players like quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Moves that fostered mistrust and a feeling of chaos. In his first season, the Broncos would start hot, winning six straight. In the season finale, and a shot at postseason play, Denver would lose 44-24 to division rival Kansas City Chiefs. McDaniels inaugural season would finish 8-8. In December of 2010, year two would see an abrupt end for a Bill Belichick protege. On December 5th, the Broncos would lose to the Chiefs. On December 6th, and with a record of 3-9, Josh McDaniels would be fired. After a cup of coffee with the St. Louis Rams, the mercurial one would go back to New England, and was part of the Death Star’s loss in Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants. McDaniels would coach the offense in Championship wins against the Seattle Seahawks and an epic come from behind win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Again, a coaching gig would land squarely in his lap. On February 6th, 2018, Josh McDaniels was announced as the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. McDaniels withdrew from the position on the same day and announced that he had decided to stay with the Patriots. In response, his long-time agent, Bob LaMonte, who also represented Colts general manager Chris Ballard, would terminate his representation of McDaniels. In 2018, New England would win another Super Bowl beating the upstart Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta 13-3.

A List All NFL Fans Know All Too Well

Here are some names to consider when you think of Josh McDaniels:

Eric Mangini – From the coaching tree in New England, he would help win three Super Bowls for Belichick as a defensive backs coach and then as defensive coordinator. He served as the head coach of the New York Jets from 2006-2008, as well as with the Cleveland Browns from 2009-2010. For a career, his record is 33-47.

Romeo Crennel – As one would expect, Crennel did his best work in the fertile grounds of NFL assistant coaches while with the Patriots. As a head coach, a completely different story. While running the show for the Browns, he would coach them to a 24-40 record. The blip happened in 2007 when he served up a 20-6 record, earning an extension. On December 9th, 2008, the Cleveland Browns would fire Crennel after he led Cleveland to a 4-12 season. The trend would continue in Kansas City when Crennel would step in after Todd Haley was fired 13 games into the 2011 season. On January 9th, 2012 the Chiefs made an unusual move, as Romeo Crennel would be hired as the organization’s 11th head coach in franchise history. On New Year’s Eve of that same year, Romeo would be fired as head coach. His overall career record was 32-63.

Other names to consider as head coaching busts are Buddy Ryan who was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. For all the bluster, his career record of 55-55-1 is nothing of note, especially after the defensive dynasty he built for the Chicago Bears. The Detroit Lions hired an assistant who was very good in Tampa Bay. In 2008, he coached the Lions to a perfect 0-16. His career with the Lions was a disastrous 10-38. 

A Constant Companion Named Losing 

On January 31st, 2022, Joshua Thomas McDaniels would be hired as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. His array of indecisiveness, an inability to utilize talent on the roster, and a general sense of chaos has overtaken the Silver and Black. Is history repeating itself? As the only 0-3 team in the NFL and coming off a disastrous 24-22 loss against the Tennessee Titans, a sense of pending disaster is now a constant companion for the Raiders.

Josh McDaniels has become the walking, talking, coaching version of insanity. NFL teams have hired this guy three times to the same result: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 2022 will tell not just Raiders fans, but fans of all teams in the league that the ceiling can be high in theory with high profile assistant coaches. If McDaniels goes belly-up in Las Vegas, the book will be closed on what was seen as a world of potential, that only delivered failure. 

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