The Las Vegas Raiders were simply not performing well under head coach Josh McDaniels, and things were not getting better in his second season at the helm. Ultimately owner Mark Davis made the decision to fire McDaniels as well as general manager Dave Ziegler and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi and the franchise will now begin the process of finding the next person they feel can bring them back to glory.
While the performance on the field under McDaniels was not ideal, there were also rumblings about overall frustrations within the team and locker room in general. In fact, one of the biggest points following the firing was that the locker room was much more relaxed, and things were less tense.
Apparently, it was these issues that were the primary reasons the Raiders chose to move on from McDaniels. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, McDaniels’ lack of people skills and the culture he was trying to set are what cost him:
After asking around, I get the sense that people skills and culture were primary issues — and ones that essentially plagued McDaniels in two coaching stops. Players aired their grievances in a team-meeting setting, and owner Mark Davis was well aware of some of the frustrations.
Players felt overworked in some cases. As one source put it, the tone was set by the regime that if the lights were on in the building, people should be there working. While that sounds like a nice football trope for dedication to the craft, that throwback Patriots-style mentality can be problematic for grown men with families.
In that same piece, ESPN’s Dan Graziano added that McDaniels continued to implore the players to just trust him that things would turn around, but that message wore thin very quickly:
The sense around the building was that McDaniels just kept insisting they trust him and that it would turn around eventually if they stuck to his plan. As one person close to the situation told me, “Players know. And if all you’re ever telling them is, ‘I know better,’ you’re going to lose them pretty quick.”
Examples like this show that coaching in sports is more than just about schemes and plans. Coaches have to be able to relate to their players, rally them, and make them want to play hard each and every day. When a coach loses the locker room, it’s basically impossible to be successful.
Unfortunately for McDaniels, he has not figured out how to do that, and it has cost him in both of his head coaching opportunities. Simply trying to implement what worked elsewhere to another team rarely works out, and the marriage between McDaniels and the Raiders wasn’t meant to be.