The Raiders made headlines early this morning when they fired head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. While the midseason shakeup may have come as a surprise to some, it probably didn’t shock many of the team’s veterans.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, owner Mark Davis had meetings with veteran players over the past week to better understand the team’s culture (or lack thereof). Albert Breer of SI.com echoes that report, noting that Davis was well aware of the players’ grievances. Even before the recent meetings, the firing started to feel “inevitable” within the organization, according to Breer. Davis was becoming increasingly “volatile and angry” with the team’s inconsistencies, and that ultimately led to his decision.
McDaniels was also aware of the problems in his locker room. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that the coach allowed players to raise their issues during a team meeting last week. Josh Jacobs, Maxx Crosby, and Davante Adams were among the veteran players who spoke up, with the latter also expressing his discontent following Monday’s loss to the Lions.
Breer has more details on what led to the eventual firings. There was a “particularly aggressive” postgame meeting between Davis and his staff after the Raiders beat the Packers in Week 5. Despite the win, the owner caught the attention of many because he was “so angry,” and his “reaction created an uneasy feeling” with coaches and scouts.
More notes out of Las Vegas…
- The “disconnect” between Davis and McDaniels/Ziegler surrounding the Raiders quarterback situation played a major role in the dismissals, according to Dianna Russini, Vic Tafur, Tashan Reed, and Larry Holder of The Athletic. The decision that played the most significant role in the firings was when veteran Brian Hoyer started over rookie Aidan O’Connell in Week 7. Breer provided more context on that decision, noting that the Raiders believed Hoyer’s veteran game management would be advantageous against the Bears, who were rolling with a rookie of their own. Some coaches believed that O’Connell should get the call, and Hoyer proceeded to throw a pair of interceptions in an eventual loss.
- According to Tafur, Davis had issues with Ziegler’s handling of the position before this season. The owner wasn’t a proponent of the extension that the GM gave to Derek Carr, and the accompanying no-trade clause meant the organization ultimately let the franchise quarterback walk without receiving any compensation. Ziegler didn’t do himself any favors by handing Jimmy Garoppolo $33MM in guaranteed money. The oft-injured QB later failed his physical and ultimately required surgery, and he’s proceeded to toss nine interceptions in his six games. The GM also might regret his decision to not target a rookie and spend the money elsewhere; per Tafur, the Raiders only liked Bryce Young heading into the draft.
- Davis will now have a difficult choice to make on Garoppolo, and it goes beyond the decision to start O’Connell in Week 9. As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes, it makes most sense for the organization to cut the veteran QB as soon as possible. Garoppolo has $11.25MM in injury guarantees that are due in March of 2024. The team could cut him after the Super Bowl and before the guarantee vests, but they’d be risking the QB suffering an injury during an upcoming game or practice.
- Tom Brady isn’t yet an official part-owner of the Raiders, but the future Hall of Famer will be involved in the HC and GM hiring process, according to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports. Of course, Brady has a relationship with both McDaniels and Ziegler, with the trio having won many Super Bowls together during their time in New England.