BRONCOS

The second tenure of Josh McDaniels was shorter than the first

Oct 31, 2023, 11:40 PM | Updated: Nov 1, 2023, 7:38 am

Despite a colossal failure in Denver, Josh McDaniels got a second chance to be an NFL head coach.

It didn’t even last as long as his first, ill-fated 28-game stint on the Broncos sideline during the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis fired McDaniels late Tuesday night, announcing the sacking in a 68-word statement issued on the Silver and Black’s social-media channels.

Davis also fired another ex-Patriot, general manager Dave Ziegler. Ziegler worked for the Broncos during McDaniels’ coaching tenure and later returned to New England. The duo soared west in early 2022 to try and remake the Raiders.

They did — making them worse.

When McDaniels and Ziegler arrived, Las Vegas was a team on a gradual upswing. They went from 4-12 in scandal-ridden coach Jon Gruden’s first season to 6-10 in 2019, 8-8 in 2020, and, finally 10-7 in 2020 in a year that saw Gruden forced out after racist, misogynistic and homophobic language in emails sent by him came to light.

That steady rise halted under McDaniels’ watch.

HIRED TO IMPROVE THE OFFENSE, JOSH McDANIELS GRADUALLY CRASHED IT

McDaniels and Zeigler inherited a team that overcame scandal and a horrific tragedy caused by one of their first-round picks to somehow make the postseason in 2021. The interim coach who steered the Raiders to that unlikely playoff appearance, Rich Bisaccia, got only a cursory glance at the head-coaching job before Davis cast his eyes toward New England for the Patriots duo.

And as McDaniels did in New England, he eventually dismantled not only the pieces that needed repair, but the ones that worked, too. He rode quarterback Derek Carr out for a season before jettisoning him in favor of Jimmy Garoppolo, another ex-Patriot hand who — predictably — found himself battling injuries, just as he did in San Francisco, his previous stop.

McDaniels also cast aside Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller, trading him to the New York Giants in the offseason. Exacerbating that trade was the fact that Walker’s wife, Kelsey Plum, is a star player for the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces — a wildly successful franchise with back-to-back league championships that is also owned by Davis. McDaniels also deemphasized Hunter Renfrow, a productive slot receiver who found himself marginalized in the Raiders’ extreme makeover.

As a result, the Raiders offense plummeted this season. Las Vegas ranks 30th in the NFL with just 15.8 points per game through eight weeks.

JOSH MCDANIELS DID ONLY ONE THING RIGHT IN VEGAS …

… and that was defeating his old team. McDaniels and the Raiders went 3-0 against the Broncos, including a 17-16 win in Denver to open Sean Payton’s tenure. They went 6-16 against everyone else in the league, losing five of seven games after Week 1.

Of course, McDaniels does get a last laugh in one way: He’ll be paid for the next four-and-a-half years to NOT coach the Raiders. That largesse will buy plenty of tickets to catch the Adele residency at Caesars Palace.

But it may not buy another shot at an NFL head coaching job.

And while this stint doesn’t have the stench of cheating that defined his failed Broncos stewardship, it is hard to see McDaniels getting another crack as an NFL head coach after a second shot that ended up crashing and burning much like his first.

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The second tenure of Josh McDaniels was shorter than the first