New offense, additions creates whirlwind of possibilities for Raiders
Preparation for the upcoming season for the Las Vegas Raiders began with a film assignment from new head coach Josh McDaniels. The team of study, the New England Patriots.
McDaniels’ goal: taking traditional Patriot schemes and adding it to the Raider Way.
“This team has a huge history and tradition,” he said. “The will to win and the commitment to excellence that you see at every corner of this building. A lot of the people that I’ve been able to meet since I’ve come here, they exude that everyday and that starts with [team owner Mark Davis].”
After spending 14 non-consecutive seasons as an assistant in New England, McDaniels comes over for his second head coaching stint. The first ended with an .500 record for AFC West rival, the Denver Broncos in the 2009-10 season.
“I win and lose on every play,” he said when speaking about leading practices as Raiders head coach. “I’m the only guy out there that feels that way. There’s never a lapse in my appreciation level [for either side of the ball].”
Buy-in from the team began with starting quarterback Derek Carr, who is entering his ninth season in the National Football League.
“I thought we had some good retention from the offseason,” he said. “[We’re] the first team to get into camp so to get ahead – I love to work so, our team is built that way. We just want to get back to work.”
Last season, Carr racked up more than 4800 yards through the air to go along with 23 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
He led the Raiders to a playoff berth before being bounced in the Wild Card round by the eventual AFC champion, Cincinnati Bengals.
Davis rewarded Carr’s efforts with a three-year, $121.5 million extension in the offseason.
“Last year was just a different situation,” Carr said. “It’s nice that it’s just been all football. [...] You can definitely tell that Mr. Davis is doing everything he can to push us in the right direction.
“It’s been cool because he’s been trying to make it all about football. It’s our jobs as players and coaches to limit distractions.”
As an added bonus, Las Vegas pulled off a trade for five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams from Green Bay. The Raiders sent a first and second round pick from April’s NFL draft to the Packers back in return.
Carr and Adams played together for two years at Fresno State, compiling 233 receptions, 3,031 yards and 38 touchdowns as a duo during that span.
“It’s been smooth,” Adams said about the transition. “Obviously, it’s different anytime you change places but I’ve been enjoying it. It’s been really cool, [my] teammates welcomed me with open arms right out the gate.”
Adams leaves after eight years in Green Bay, posting a career-high 1, 553 yards last season coupled with 11 touchdowns.
He immediately made headlines after seeming to allude that he would be transitioning from Hall-of-Fame quarterback to Hall-of-Fame quarterback, in moving from 4-time MVP winner Aaron Rodgers to Carr.
“What I’m not going to do is take away from that statement,” Adams said. “Because why is Derek not a Hall-of-Famer? But what I meant, I left one key word out because that’s not exactly what I meant.
“I do think that Derek’s career is Hall-of-Fame worthy and why not? People can say that about this guy and that guy. What I will say is, does he have the MVPs right now? No. Has he won a Super Bowl? Not yet, that’s obviously what we’re chasing.”
Adams joins a receiving group of fellow wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, who set career-highs in catches (103), receiving yards (1,038) and touchdowns (nine) last year and tight end Darren Waller, who had 665 yards in 11 games played last season.
“It makes it tough, man,” Adams said. “We’ve got great depth and that goes beyond myself, Hunter and Darren. I know that’s the way people like to talk about it a lot but you [could] look anywhere.”
For now, the No. 3 wide receiver slot remains a mystery with receivers Demarcus Robinson, Keelan Cole, Tyron Johnson along with several others vying for the job.
Adams added with the new offensive wrinkles, anybody on the field can be a threat.
“Everybody’s a threat out there,” he said. “You can get the ball from anywhere. You can be a guy that’s setting up another guy but if the coverage dictates that you get the ball. It keeps guys’ minds in it and it keeps you alive within every route.”
The Raiders haven’t won the AFC West since 2002, the same year the team last made a Super Bowl.
“Expectations, like, who cares,” Carr said. “Nobody cares. At the end of the day, they can say, ‘You got all these – that crap [doesn't] matter. We have to go play the football games.”
McDaniels’ take on this may provide realistic expectations for those attempting to put the cart before the horse.
“I like the way we’re working,” he said. “I think schematically, we have a long way to go before we can really say, ‘We’re good at this.’ We’re going to try to get good at a lot of things.”
Las Vegas opens the NFL season as part of the annual Hall-of-Fame game in Canton, Ohio, Thursday Aug. 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. PST.
The Raiders open the regular season Sunday, Sept. 11 at SoFit Stadium against the Los Angeles Chargers.