HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Josh McDaniels 2.0 is exhibiting the same troubling signs as the original version.
In just short of a season and a half, the Las Vegas Raiders have endured three memorably embarrassing losses under his watch.
The Raiders lost to interim coach Jeff Saturday and the Indianapolis Colts last season a week after Saturday left ESPN. That would be the only game that Saturday, now back with the network, would win.
Las Vegas also last season at the Rams two days after quarterback Baker Mayfield arrived in Los Angeles with barely any knowledge of the playbook.
And then on Sunday, the Raiders lost 30-12 at Chicago and a Bears quarterback who at this point last year was starring at Division II Shepherd University.
“I don’t think we played representative to what we feel like we can be,” McDaniels said Monday. “We’ve been competitive in most every game we’ve been in this year and that one got away from us. I feel like you are what you do. We didn’t play competitive enough, we didn’t coach well enough, and the game got away from us.”
McDaniels didn't win with Denver in his first go-round as a head coach, and his record in Las Vegas is 9-15 with a game at Detroit next Monday night. The Raiders are 8 1/2-point underdogs, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Beyond the losses, McDaniels has made a series of decisions that have backfired. That included going with Brian Hoyer, a quarterback who hasn't won a game as a starter in seven years, over rookie Aidan O'Connell. Hoyer racked up a dismal 37.1 quarterback rating, and the Raiders still don't know more about O'Connell and whether he has a real future than they did a week ago.
Going with Hoyer, though, was likely the more conservative move, and that ties in with McDaniels' general approach. He opted for a short field goal Sunday while trailing 21-3 rather than going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line. That was not unlike his decision to kick a short field goal while down eight points a month earlier to the Pittsburgh Steelers with 2:25 to go.
This isn't to say McDaniels can't turn it around, and by all indications owner Mark Davis is giving him the time to do it. Maybe he will turn the Raiders into winners, but the evidence it will happen is lacking.
“We’re not going to lose our mind today,” McDaniels said. "We’re just going to kind of try to fix the things that need to be fixed and take the same approach after we win or lose. ... We’re going to look hard at ourselves. Then we’re going to try to provide a really good plan this week, so we can go play fundamentally sound and be aggressive, play fast and aggressive and play with great effort and try to get back to what we know we can be.”
If nothing else, the Raiders can always count on AJ Cole. He leads the league with a net punting average of 47.5 yards, which is even more impressive considering Cole also is second with 59.1% of his attempts finishing inside the 20-yard line. He did it again against the Bears, placing both punts inside the 20.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
The Raiders' run game is nearly nonexistent. They're last in the NFL with 68.6 yards per game. Josh Jacobs, who led the league in rushing last season, gained 35 yards on 11 carries at Chicago, and he has just 347 yards for the season on a 2.9-per-carry average. Jacobs' production began to decline toward the end of last season, and he now has gone 12 games without a 100-yard performance.
When the Raiders go for it on fourth down, it's about as automatic as the Philadelphia Eagles' tush push. Las Vegas has converted 88.9% of fourth downs. Next best are the Rams at 75%.
After two promising performances against subpar offenses, Las Vegas' defense reverted to form against the Bears. The Raiders allowed 173 yards rushing on a 4.6 average, and Chicago rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent of storied Shepherd was efficient, completing 21 of 29 passes for 162 yards.
McDaniels sounded hopeful QB Jimmy Garoppolo (back) will be back soon, but otherwise didn't have an update. The Raiders have been without CB Nate Hobbs (ankle) the past four weeks. K Daniel Carlson suffered an undisclosed injury before the game, but McDaniels said it wasn't serous. LB Divine Deablo (ankle) was injured at Chicago, and there was no update on his status.
61.5 — The percentage of third downs the Bears converted against Las Vegas. Those extended drives wore down the Raiders' defense.
The Raiders' visit to Detroit could be coming at a bad time. The NFC North-leading Lions were embarrassed in a 38-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens to fall to 5-2. They figure to be extra motivated..
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