Why did the Raiders hire Josh McDaniels? Josh Jacobs’ cryptic tweet leaves questions surrounding players’ support for Rich Bisaccia

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In trying to distance themselves from the Jon Gruden era and move the franchise into the future, the Raiders are expected to hire former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as the franchise’s next head coach.

McDaniels comes from New England along with new GM Dave Ziegler, and it’s the latter’s presence in Las Vegas that likely led to McDaniels getting another shot as a head coach.

The #Raiders are expected to hire #Patriots de facto GM Dave Ziegler as their new GM, per, @MikeGarafolo and @TomPelissero. He was key in New England’s fast turnaround, now turns his attention to Las Vegas. The next step is slated to be the hire of Josh McDaniels as head coach.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 30, 2022

McDaniels was previously a head coach with the Broncos for two seasons from 2009-10, but has become best known for his work in New England as offensive coordinator, a position which he held from 2005-08 and has held from 2012 onward.

The 45-year old is the second Bill Belichick protege to get hired this cycle, after Brian Daboll was hired by the Giants.

Sporting News takes a look at why Las Vegas made this move and hired McDaniels.

Why did the Raiders hire Josh McDaniels?

As with the Giants’ hiring of Daboll, it seems like familiarity was a key in McDaniels’ return to the head coaching ranks. Ziegler served as New England’s director of player personnel prior to being named GM in Vegas and had been with the Patriots for the last nine years. But his ties to McDaniels extend far beyond that.

The two worked together in Denver, as well, with Ziegler serving in the Broncos’ scouting department. But the relationship doesn’t stop there — the two are alumni of and former college teammates at John Carroll University in Ohio, where McDaniels was a receiver and Ziegler was a receiver and a returner.

McDaniels is also highly thought of as an offensive mind, an area where the Raiders have struggled not just this season, but over the last decade. Under McDaniels’ guidance, the Patriots had a top-10 total offense eight times and a top-10 scoring offense 12 times in his two stints as OC. In that same span, the Raiders have ranked top-10 in total offense three times and top-10 in scoring offense four times.

Owner Mark Davis picked McDaniels over interim head coach and former special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, who coached the team’s final 12 games, going 7-5 and leading them to the playoffs in a move that was praised by some, but not everyone.

Former NFL head coach Rex Ryan, now with ESPN, praised the move, calling it a “home run” hire, while star running back Josh Jacobs seemed to question the decision in a since-deleted tweet that was also shared by The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, who covers the Raiders.

Entering the offseason, with the Raiders in pursuit of a full-time head coach, Raiders players were quite vocal in getting Bisaccia’s interim tag removed, too.  

“I’ve said it many times already: Rich is my pick if it was up to me,” said star defensive lineman Maxx Crosby, speaking on Colin Cowherd’s ‘The Herd’ on January 20th. “He’s a leader. He’s a leader of men. He’s somebody you look forward to seeing every morning. He’s a great coach from top to bottom. “I think he’s earned the right. We won 10 games this year. With all the things going on in our building we still found a way to win. I think that’s a big reflection of Rich.”

Quarterback Derek Carr echoed Crosby’s support, as well. 

“I think we can all think that he’s the right guy,” Carr said. “He’s proven that people listen to him. Our team listens to him. And I love him so much, I’m thankful for him. All those things will be decisions that I don’t make, I don’t get to make. I just play quarterback … but with everything that went on, if you really look at what happened, all the pieces missing, everything that changed, yeah, he held it together.”

Josh McDaniels coaching history

McDaniels has had far more success as an offensive coordinator than as a head coach up to this point in his career. He’s led the Patriots to top-10 total offense and scoring offenses multiple times over, and even if much of that was with Tom Brady as quarterback, his new team — the Raiders — have struggled in that department.

After getting his start in coaching with Nick Saban in East Lansing in 1999, he came to New England in 2001, serving in various roles before being promoted to full-time OC in 2005, a job he held until 2008. He did well enough in that role to earn his first NFL head coaching gig, a two-year stint with the Broncos from 2009-10.

His first season in Denver, they went 8-8 and finished second in the AFC West and ranked 15th in total offense and 20th in scoring offense, before regressing record-wise in 2010, going 3-9 and getting fired mid-season.

From Denver, he spent a year with the Rams as their OC and QB coach before returning to New England in 2012 as offensive coordinator, a position he held up until getting hired by the Raiders.

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