As the vice president of Red Zone Raider Nation Booster Club There’s a solution that I came up with that can fix the Raiders. Despite a roster and culture that rotted from the inside out during the Jon Gruden/Mike Mayock era, the Raiders spent a small fortune in cap space and draft capital on Davante Adams and signed Chandler Jones instead of aggressively rebuilding in the offseason.
Did new showrunner Josh McDaniels think he could fast track a contender, or did Mark Davis fool himself into thinking the Raiders were just two players away from the Super Bowl after a 10-7 finish in 2021? Spending nearly $22m on an offense that’s not producing wins in embarrassing.
The Raiders’ habit of blowing 17-point leads—three of them so far this season—betrays both a failure to adjust and the general malaise that was impossible not to spot in the Colts loss.
Here’s How I would fix the situation.
A lot of Raider fans are blaming Derek Carr, but I believe Head coach Josh McDaniels is putting Carr in a tuff position to win.
Derek Carr has done his usual outstanding job of not being the Raiders’ problem while not really being part of the solution, either. He ranks 14th after three straight years in the top 10. More was expected of Carr with the arrival of All-Pro college team mate Davante Adams, but the absences of Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow have contributed to Carr’s decline.
Carr accepted a restructured contract in the offseason which makes him easily releasable at the end of this year. It was an early sign of what we saw in Sunday’s press conference: both sides may be ready to end a relationship that has long felt a little strained.
In the fine Raiders tradition, McDaniels made sure there was no plausible successor to Carr on the roster. No, Marcus Mariota in 2020/2021 doesn’t count.
So Here’s my rebuilding plan.
Step One: Actually plan to rebuild: It’s obvious that Mark Davis misread the Raiders’ 2021 late-season surge fueled largely by wins in COVID-impacted games and thought his team was ready to win now. McDaniels probably played along because he figured he could coax a Carr-Crosby-Davante-Waller team to about 10 wins and earn about four years of job security. It didn’t work out as planned. Now it’s time to get real.
Step Two: It’s new quarterback time: Opting in to Carr’s slow, disgruntled decline would be foolish. McDaniels must find his next Mac Jones. Candidates include a rookie, a low-baggage placeholder with touch/mobility Geno Smith, Daniel Jones , or maybe Mac Jones.
Step Three: Upgrade at defensive coordinator: Patrick Graham earned this shot by making chicken salad out of the Giants defense and being the designated grownup on Joe Judge’s staff. But the Raiders defense is static and predictable. Players blow routine assignments. The hustle leaves a little something to be desired. McDaniels will need to sacrifice a pawn soon, and Graham’s a worthy candidate. Brian Flores would be a logical replacement if McDaniels wants to keep things in the greater Belichick family.
Step Four: Bigger/stronger/faster on defense: Duron Harmon and when healthy Divine Deablo are two of the most reliable Raiders defenders, and both change directions like tractors. Mayock’s drafts left the Raiders defense nearly devoid of talent. They need to channel the ghost of Al Davis and lean into the measurables in future drafts.
Step Five: Keep checks and balances on McDaniels: Davis insists that McDaniels will keep his job, and that tracks. McDaniels is too high-profile to give up on after one season without Davis losing serious face, and McDaniels is probably having little trouble in Raiders headquarters blaming (with much merit) the team’s woes on Gruden and Mayock.
The Raiders have ignored their roster infrastructure since the day Jon Gruden arrived in 2018. Gruden first larded the depth chart with veteran journeymen. Then he traded Khalil Mack for draft picks, which might have helped, but Mayock spent those picks on pet projects and players at low-leverage positions. Instead of using the 2022 draft to reinforce the roster, the Raiders traded for Adams. McDaniels should have ordered a clean rafters-to-ceiling “culture change” but didn’t. His reputation as anything other than a playcaller and Belichick wingman, shaky to begin with, is taking another hit as a result.
Carr, the last holdover from the Dennis Allen/Reggie McKenzie era, has seen it all and seen enough. Carr has become a symbol of the Raiders’ never-ending indecision. They keep swapping out everything else except their good-not-great quarterback, but he deserves better than to be associated with this era of splashy confusion. Carr deserves a chance to move on. McDaniels owes it to himself to at least try to remake this roster in his image.