There are a lot of teams in the NFL this season who vying for the mantle of “most disappointing,” but it’s nobody has mastered ineptitude better than the Las Vegas Raiders. Sunday was their magnum opus, as Josh McDaniels found a way to use his vast years of coaching experience to lose to a haphazard Colts team being brought into the weekend by a guy with less than a week experience on the job.
This isn’t enjoyable. There’s no schadenfreude here. Don’t get me wrong, there are some teams that are just fun to hate on — but the Raiders aren’t one of them, at least for me. In all honesty, I hoped this team would be great in 2022. It would have made the AFC West a lot more interesting, and there was something so poetic about the idea of a deep playoff run coming after the death of John Madden, and I’m a sucker for romanticism in football.
Unfortunately the second McDaniels was hired it looked bad, and since then he’s shown no control over this team. At the top Mike Mayock has proven himself to be one of the most hapless and inept general managers in the NFL. When the dust settles the Gruden/Mayock era will be one of the darkest times in franchise history, and set this team back years as a result.
The biggest issue is that McDaniels came in wanting desperately to put his stamp on the Raiders and earn the kudos that have alluded him for so long. This is fine — but only if it works. Hell, look at Mike McDaniel in Miami. Here’s a dude who rocked up in South Beach, changed the team’s entire offense, traded for players to make it a reality — and now leads the AFC East. Meanwhile McDaniels is out in Vegas with his quarterback in tears because not enough people are “buying in.”
It’s ridiculous to see people dunking on Derek Carr for showing emotion and giving a shit about his team. Look, I get it, a lot of people think Carr is not a great quarterback — but the NFL is full of not great quarterbacks starting on Sunday. At least he seems like one of the few guys on this team who actually wants this team to improve, and his sentiments were directly echoed by Davante Adams.
“Just don’t got enough guys that are fully bought into that right now. I think people like the idea, but when it’s time to execute – it don’t turn out that way.”
— Logan Reever (@loganreever) November 14, 2022
While it’s easy to hear these comments from Carr and Adams and say “this team just isn’t working hard enough,” it absolutely falls on McDaniels for not having the leadership needed to make these guys buy in — and Mayock for hiring a coach who wouldn’t gel with the players he had on the roster.
Going from hard-nosed, no-nonsense interim Rich Bisaccia to get McDaniels is kind of like trading in your beloved, reliable old work truck for a Tesla. Sure, you got all the bells and whistles, but deep down you regret the decision — and now the truck is gone and you’re left driving a car that just doesn’t feel right. Carr and Adams are being good soldiers by sticking up for the new guy, but if their teammates don’t believe McDaniels is the guy, well, it’s hard to turn that sentiment around.
There is absolutely no excuse for the Raiders to be 2-7 right now. They are officially the second-worst team in the NFL behind the Houston Texans. It takes a stunning amount of skill to be this bad with the amount of talent on Vegas’ roster — yet McDaniels has found the secret sauce, albeit the sauce is spoiled, and rancid.
This team is worse in every single statistical area since McDaniels took over, with only small personnel changes. This is absolutely on his shoulders, and Mayock’s for enabling this debacle to take place (while also cutting almost every draft picks he’s made since arriving).
The NFL would be a much more interesting place in 2022 if the Raiders were good, and shame on the braintrust in Las Vegas for screwing this up so monumentally. Huge losers this week, and for the rest of the season.
Winner: Tua Tagovailoa … who might be an MVP candidate at this point?
It’s really amazing to talk about the Dolphins right after discussing the Raiders because here’s a team that was really in a similar position. Brian Flores was a damn good coach, who I think could have continued to slowly build Miami into a contender. That’s a huge topic we won’t get into here, but Mike McDaniel definitely expedited the process with his myriad changes to the team and nobody is reaping the benefits more than Tua Tagovailoa.
Don’t get me wrong, life as a quarterback is pretty damn easy in a system as friendly as Miami’s. You’re not asked to make a ton of difficult throws, you have two of the best YAC receivers in the entire NFL, and a system which dares defenses to work out who the hell to target, rather than requiring the QB to win a game.
That said, all of this falls apart unless you have a QB capable of playing mistake-free football, and over the past four weeks Tua has been functionally perfect. No quarterback in the NFL has had a better month, and it’s not even close.
96-for-133, 1,230 yards, 10 touchdowns, 0 interceptions — 125.8 passer rating
Tagovailoa is playing in another galaxy in the McDaniel offense, and putting himself in legitimate MVP consideration whether you like it or not. Josh Allen has been playing himself out of the discussion, Patrick Mahomes has been great as usual, and Jalen Hurts keeping making a case for himself in Philly — but as it stands I’m not sure anyone is assembling a better resume for himself than Tua.
Tagovailoa is on pace for 3,851 passing yards (likely to be pushed well over 4K based on current use rates), 31 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. The schedule he’s played is brutal, and the Dolphins are soaring. If all this holds he’ll make a very strong case to win MVP, and it’ll come down to arguments over supporting cast and offense.
Loser: The Broncos, again
Nathaniel Hackett sucks and I’m tired of wasting time talking about him.
Winner: Justin Jefferson, who’s enough to have me believing in the Vikings (for now)
No team in the NFL is more frustrating for me than the Vikings. I want to believe this is a really great team, and beating the Bills IN BUFFALO should easily cement them as a top-tier Super Bowl contender. Still, something just doesn’t feel right about buying in too heavily to a team that hasn’t won a single game by more than one score since the season opener against Green Bay.
That said, if there’s one dude who will make me buy in it’s Justin Jefferson. He’s the best receiver in the NFL as far as I’m concerned, and I’m not sure it’s even that close in my book. While there are plenty of guys having huge years, there’s nothing scheme-dependent about how Jefferson wins. He’s just bigger than you, faster than you, and he’s going to eat every game.
Already over 1,000 receiving yards on the year, Jefferson put on another clinic against the Bills, catching 10 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. He’s getting almost no help from Adam Thielen this season, and is a guaranteed double on every down — yet Jefferson is still treating the NFL as an all-you-can-eat buffet.
If Minnesota can make a deep run it will be because of Jefferson’s ludicrous ability, and I’m starting to buy into this team more — even though it feels like the wrong decision.
Winner: Justin Fields … again
I wasn’t sure whether to put Fields in here for the third straight week, because there’s nothing really new to say. He is an absolute superstar, and the Bears still absolutely suck.
Still, when you put up over 75 percent of your team’s total offense and were responsible for all four of your team’s touchdowns it warrants getting some recognition. Another amazing game this week from one of the most exciting players in the league,
Loser: This laptop, which is probably covered in poop from a German pigeon
Right as Julio Jones scored, a bird infiltrated our media seating area and refused to leave. Falcons of Germany paying him a nod? I don’t know. pic.twitter.com/TSZESSHv8K
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) November 13, 2022
Now THIS is a dirty bird. I’ve never really understood the whole “dirty birds” thing with the Falcons. I don’t need a lecture about Jamaal Anderson or the genesis of the name, I get it, but a falcon doesn’t even rank in my top five dirty bird power rankings.
- Pigeon: Basically a flying rat
- Vulture/buzzard: Eats dead stuff
- Duck: Swims in its own poop all day
- Wrens: Bathe in dust
- Seagull: Sand pigeon
I don’t really know where I’m going with this because it’s late, but yeah, that laptop is probably covered in poop now.
And now… the photo of the week
Please enjoy Guy Fieri dripping in Raiders attire, complete with a skull and crossbones chef necklace.