It’s Time for the Raiders to Change the Narrative


Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr plays against the Washington Football Team at Allegiant Stadium on Dec. 5, 2021. (Photo by Joe Glorioso, CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Max Valva, Sports Writer


The Las Vegas Raiders went into 2022 expecting to compete for a playoff spot, instead they underperformed heavily and will be looking at a top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The 2021 version of the Raiders featured a resilient team that fought back from losing their head coach and star receiver mid-season to making the playoffs with interim coach Rich Bissacia. After losing to the eventual AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders decided to move on from Bissacia to former New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels. The Raiders then traded for superstar receiver Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers, a move that look to bolster an already loaded offense.

Although defense was still a concern, the team was expected to be one of the scariest offenses in the league, potentially outscoring any opponent, according to Good Morning Football. There were some doubters, as the other three teams in the Raiders division also made moves to boost their roster, but no one expected an outcome that had the Raiders going 6-11 due to their own self-infliction.

So What Went Wrong?

A team that made the playoffs last year, and improved its roster should be a playoff lock, right? Unfortunately, football is not that simple, and there are some obvious flaws with the structure of this team. Going into the season, several people doubted the leadership skills of McDaniels also since he had already had a failed stint as an NFL head coach. After one season, the suspicions of McDaniels not being able to facilitate a locker room have been confirmed. It seems like every week players hinted about the lack of work ethic that some teammates have as well as not putting in the effort to win football games. This is a clear sign of a dysfunctional locker room with not only a pushover as a head coach but a team that has no leadership skills whatsoever.

Over the past several seasons, quarterback Derek Carr has been a team leader, something this version of the Raiders could use right now. Once dubbed the “most relentless leader” ever by former teammate Alec Ingold, Carr has shown little this season to have earned this title. Bringing in his college teammate, Adams, was supposed to not only boost team chemistry but elevate Carr’s play to a level we have never seen before, from what we have seen this season this may never happen. Not only is this his worst statistical season since 2017, a year where he was coming back from a broken leg, posting a QB rating of only 86.3, Carr looks like he’s playing without heart.

One reason this may be the case is that he doesn’t understand Coach McDaniel’s scheme entirely quite yet. Quarterbacks often perform poorly when they are getting used to a system they don’t fully understand, but usually not to this extent. Carr celebrated his 31st birthday this year, an age where quarterbacks start to regress. Or maybe it’s a lack of confidence that stems from preseason expectations. Whatever the reason, Carr needs to sort that out and be the leader he once was if the Raiders want a chance to compete.

The Raiders won’t be making the postseason. In a league that saw a playoff expansion two years ago, they weren’t officially eliminated until Week 17 this season, which is impressive judging the start to their year. Instead of the postseason, Las Vegas will now focus on the draft season. The front office should start the unfortunate process of reassessing what went wrong and build for the future. This boils down to either replacing McDaniels or replacing Carr. This may prove to be a tough decision as both options have different benefits that they bring to the table if they choose to keep them.

In the past, Carr has proven to be that guy both in the locker room and on the field and they could look at the player who once was an MVP candidate in 2016 as just being in the wrong system. Just two seasons ago he had a QB rating of 101.4, putting him in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the league. Maybe if he regains confidence he can get to that point again. On the other hand, if they choose to keep McDaniels, he could develop into the playcalling mastermind we saw in New England. Whatever the decision is, it is clear the Raiders need some changes in a big way if they want to compete in 2023.


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