The Las Vegas Raiders’ season already seemed on the brink after an 0-3 start. But following an embarrassing performance in getting shut out by the New Orleans Saints 24-0, it truly feels like the hopes of Josh McDaniels’ team are hanging on by a thread.
Sitting at 2-5, dead last in the AFC West, and two and a half games out of the final playoff spot, the Raiders are not coming close to meeting the expectations they had coming into the season. But McDaniels is far from giving up on what his team can accomplish this season.
The Raiders head coach recently spoke with reporters and made it clear that the team’s goal of making the playoffs remains their goal, via Luke Straub of Raiders News Wire:
“Absolutely. It’s a long year. I believe we haven’t reached our best football yet,” McDaniels told reporters on Monday. “It’s going to take work and progress and improvement in order to do that. At this point in time, [no team has] qualified for anything, and nobody’s been eliminated.
“Consistency is going to be what we’re going to try to push for. If we can do that and start playing our best football and start stringing together some wins, you look up at the end of the year and a lot of things can happen. Certainly, that’s our goal. Our goals are still out there. We’re going to need to play better, coach better to earn them.”
Consistency has definitely been an issue for the Raiders this season, as they have gone from looking capable of beating almost anyone one week to looking like one of the worst teams in the NFL the next. McDaniels getting a consistent performance from his team on both sides of the ball would go a long way toward turning things around.
The final playoff spot in the AFC currently belongs to the rival Los Angeles Chargers at 4-3, so it certainly isn’t unfeasible for the Raiders to catch them, but it isn’t that simple. There are five teams in between the Raiders in that last spot, so even if the Raiders can turn around their issues, they are now in the position where they need these other teams to fall off as well.
One of the most important things will be the health of the team, with tight end Darren Waller chief among the concerns. McDaniels provided no updates on his potential return, and getting him back with Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs both enjoying excellent seasons so far will allow the Raiders offense to finally show what they can truly be.