Josh McDaniels is taking his second crack at being an NFL head coach as he prepares the Las Vegas Raiders for the 2022 season after being hired by the club earlier this offseason. As the former Patriots offensive coordinator embarks on this next challenge, he’ll look to buck the trend of Bill Belichick disciples failing when they ascend to a head-coaching role.
One of the biggest mistakes those coaches make is simply trying to be a carbon copy of Belichick in their latest landing spot, rather than creating their own culture. McDaniels fell victim to this after a failed run with the Denver Broncos that began in 2009 and only lasted midway through the 2010 campaign. That said, he isn’t the only one as the Belichick coaching tree hasn’t produced to a fruitful degree with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge — who are both back with the Patriots — being the latest head-coaching flameouts.
Fortunately for McDaniels and the Raiders, it does seem like he’s learned from his old ways and is looking to make his own mark.
“I’m not Bill [Belichick] and I can’t be,” McDaniels told reporters. “I’m just going to try to be myself and hopefully I can be a good leader for our team.”
This echoes what McDaniels said during his introductory press conference when he highlighted how he’s taking his own personality into this role with Las Vegas. Even players on the Raiders roster — including former New England safety Duron Harmon — have seen a difference in his approach and said this offseason: “He’s trying to create a culture that is not the Patriot Way.”
While his stint with the Broncos didn’t pan out, McDaniels was able to rebuild his reputation around the league after coming back to be the Patriots OC. Over that second stint, there were several times when he was interviewed for head-coaching positions, but ultimately never landed the plane. The most famous situation being his last-second denial of the Colts job after the team had already announced the hire in 2018.
“I’ve been looking forward to an opportunity like this for a couple years now and I’m so blessed to have the staff that we have and the group that we have working, and the support staff that we have around me,” said McDaniels. “They make my job easy. I’m just trying to keep us on schedule and on time and those kind of things, but I couldn’t say enough things about the staff here.
“The strength and conditioning guys, the trainers, the equipment people that make this thing go – they do a tremendous job. Then our coaching staff is doing a great job. They’re here real early, they’re here late at night making sure all the information is prepared. I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I feel like it’s slowed down for me, for sure. Doesn’t mean anything at this point in time of the year, doesn’t have any bearing on what’s going to happen down the road, but definitely feel a comfort level now in terms of understanding what my role is and how to do it better.”
Of course, McDaniels and the Raiders will have their work cut out for them this coming season as they will compete in an AFC West that may be the toughest division in the NFL.