Josh McDaniels‘ leadership style became a lightning rod in Denver, helping lead to the successful New England OC’s second-season firing. Although ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes McDaniels’ Raiders situation did not feature a personality conflict on that level, a number of issues arose near the end of his 25-game Las Vegas tenure. While McDaniels’ style this time around was viewed as a bit more empathetic, Graziano colleague Jeremy Fowler notes the same traits that keyed the early wrap in Denver — people skills and a flawed culture — resurfaced in Nevada. This Patriot Way model led to quickly eroded trust, with the quarterback situation being the main part of McDaniels’ plan not resonating with players.
The team’s move from Derek Carr to Jimmy Garoppolo produced warning signs, but the McDaniels- and Dave Ziegler-handpicked veteran’s immobility and erratic play (NFL-high nine interceptions, despite two missed starts) led to some in the Raiders’ building believing Aidan O’Connell should have replaced the veteran starter earlier than he did, Fowler adds. Had the Raiders turned one of their several visits with early-round draft prospects into a selection, perhaps McDaniels would have been given more time to groom that player. With the team waiting until the final pick of the fourth round to take its quarterback, it is quite possible the team’s passer of the future is not on the roster. This being the case certainly interfered with McDaniels displaying his vision to the team.
Here is the latest from the AFC West:
- In what should not be especially surprising, Fowler adds some around the league believe Brandon Staley will need a winning effort to stave off a post-season three firing. Some viewed Staley as a candidate to be dropped after the Chargers‘ 27-point collapse in last year’s wild-card round, which came after Mike Williams suffered an injury in a meaningless Week 18 game. But GM Tom Telesco backed his HC for a third season. Again without Williams, the Bolts are 4-4. After Sean Payton was repeatedly connected to this job in 2022, the Bolts would obviously need to look elsewhere to replace Staley — if they choose to take that route — next year.
- Last week’s USC-Washington game naturally attracted NFL personnel, but ESPN.com’s Pete Thamel notes both Broncos GM George Paton and Giants GM Joe Schoen were on-hand in a game that featured likely 2024 quarterback draftees Caleb Williams and Michael Penix. Both the Broncos and Giants would have complex paths to adding another QB. Denver could draft one with or without Russell Wilson on the roster, with a rookie salary perhaps complementing the starter’s hefty contract or hitting the Broncos’ cap sheet after they absorb a record-shattering $85MM in dead money (over two years, in the event of a post-June 1 cut). Regardless of how the Broncos fare in the season’s second half, Wilson’s status will be their top storyline.
- The Broncos recently promoted Ben Niemann to their 53-man roster, and 9News’ Mike Klis notes the team did so to prevent another club from poaching him off the practice squad. Niemann, who could have conceivably loomed as a Chiefs roster replacement for the injured Nick Bolton, has 80 games under his belt. He added to that total earlier this year, against the Bears. The former Chiefs and Cardinals starter caught on with the Broncos after the Titans cut him in August.
- Raiders free agency addition Robert Spillane recently underwent hand surgery, per interim HC Antonio Pierce (via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur), but it did not keep him off the field. After breaking his hand against the Lions in Week 8, the fifth-year linebacker underwent a procedure a day later but played every snap against the Giants. Largely a part-timer in Pittsburgh, Spillane — attached to a two-year, $7MM deal — has logged 98% of Las Vegas’ defensive snaps this season.