Josh McDaniels Gets Cute At The Worst Possible Time

With 95 seconds left on the clock and his team trailing by five points against the Indianapolis Colts, new Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels decided to get cute.

The Raiders had marched down to the Colts’ 19-yard line but were facing 2nd and 10 after a busted screen play. Knowing the Colts still had all three timeouts, McDaniels seemingly started to worry about how much time was going to be left on the clock after his team scored — so he called a draw play.

Josh Jacobs gained three yards after bouncing the play out to the left, and Derek Carr proceeded to run the play clock down afterward. On third down, Carr just missed connecting with Foster Moreau in the end zone for the go-ahead score — meaning now the Raiders were faced with a do-or-die fourth down.

All of a sudden, the 40 seconds they ran off the clock didn’t seem to matter as much as the down they wasted, huh?

On fourth down, McDaniels dialed up the dreaded fade — yes, from the 16-yard line — and Stephon Gilmore batted the ball away from Davante Adams, handing TV-analyst-turned-head-coach Jeff Saturday a debut victory.

Two weeks after being shut out by the New Orleans Saints and one week after blowing a 17-point lead to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, McDaniels and the Raiders somehow managed to reach a new low. They lost to a joke of a head coach and a first-time play caller — all in their own building, in front of their own fans, and facing a must-win scenario.

To say this was an embarrassment somehow feels like an understatement.

And yet… where do we go from here? Geographically we go to Denver and then Seattle, but what about organizationally? I know it’s just nine games, but at what point do you run out of excuses — even for a rookie head coach?

As it stands, the 2-7 Raiders stand alone with the second-worst record in football. This is the same organization that made the playoffs 10 months ago.

So…yeah, down by five with 95 seconds left? Probably not the time to get cute.

Offensive Headline: Too small when the moment got big

As much as I’d like to crap on the defense, it was the offense that had the ball with a chance to win it and couldn’t capitalize. It was the offense that started the game with three straight three-and-outs and fell behind 10-0. And then, once they did start moving the ball, it was the offense that couldn’t convert on fourth-and-two in Indianapolis territory.

Even in a second half in which they scored a pair of touchdowns, they punted twice with chances to take the lead or extend it. At the end of the day, 20 points against the Colts isn’t good enough — even without Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow.

Defensive Headline: Whelp.

What is there to keep saying about this group?

With 58 seconds left in the first half, the Raiders scored to cut the lead to 10-7 and kicked the ball back to the Colts. Surely the defense could keep them out of field goal range? LOL.

The low point, though, was a 66-yard touchdown run from Jonathan Taylor right up the middle untouched.

You read that right.

66 yards. Up the middle. Nobody got a hand on him.

How in the world is that possible?

With this defense? Anything is possible.

Player of the Game: Davante Adams

Sunday was one of those days where you appreciate just how good Adams is. Sure, the 9 catches for 126 yards and a touchdown look impressive — but it was somehow even more impressive than it sounds. It felt like every time he caught the ball, he was making a guy miss and tacking on an extra 6-7 yards after the catch, most of the time for a first down. While the final play wasn’t one he was able to come down with, the Raiders didn’t lose because of Adams.

Odds and Ends

  • The Raiders finished the game with 10 penalties for 74 yards, most of which came on the offensive side of the ball and were absolute drive-killers. McDaniels and Co. have got to figure out a way to clean this up because this group clearly isn’t good enough to overcome it.
  • I mentioned that the offense went three-and-out on their first three drives, but that almost doesn’t do it justice. On the first drive — a drive that is entirely scripted beforehand — the Raiders looked completely out of sync. The first play was a miscommunication between Derek Carr and Mack Hollins, then a run for a minimal gain, then a drop from Keelan Cole. Definitely not the way McDaniels drew it up.
  • The Colts hadn’t scored in the first quarter in six games…until Sunday.

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