During the summer, when the prospect of Tom Brady becoming a minority owner of the Raiders was being floated, former New England Patriots offensive coordinator and now former Las Vegas coach Josh McDaniels sounded excited about his former charge becoming one of his bosses. “I think everybody knows how I feel about Tom, the person,” McDaniels said. “So, if that comes to fruition, obviously I’ll be incredibly excited about just him being somebody that’s in Raider Nation and has a vested interest in us doing as well as we can do in trying to bring a championship football team here to Vegas.”
Brady, who has yet to be approved as an owner in Las Vegas because some feel he’s getting a sweetheart deal from team owner Mark Davis, might be in Sin City when the Raiders host a Super Bowl trophy. But McDaniels certainly won’t be — the team fired him, general manager Dave Ziegler and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi while the majority of America was thinking about tricks and treats. The question is: what was on Brady’s mind?
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Always seemingly at odds despite spending almost two decades together in New England, McDaniels and Brady may have had a rocky enough relationship that the latter advised Davis not to retain McDaniels. “After much thought about what the Raiders need to move forward, I have decided to part ways with Josh and Dave. I want to thank them both for their hard work and wish them and their families nothing but the best,” Davis said in a statement.
As a duo, McDaniels and Ziegler finish their tenure with Las Vegas with a 9-16 record (6-11 last season and 3-5 this season). McDaniels — who was also fired midway through his second season with the Broncos after compiling an 11-17 record as head coach from 2009-2010 — will be paid out for the rest of this season and still has four full years left on his contract. The Raiders will have to pay that out, so the firing could not have been done lightly. Regardless, Davis decided it had to be done.
One other element to consider is that the Raiders have been using Jimmy Garoppolo, who was drafted to replace Brady in New England but ended up being traded away for peanuts. McDaniels was clearly a fan of Jimmy G, as he brought him in as a free agent this offseason. But the powers that be (Brady?) in Vegas may not have been — as The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the Raiders are leaning towards starting rookie Aidan O’Connell at quarterback in Week 9 against the New York Giants.
Garoppolo, who is 43-20 as a starter in the NFL and has led a team to the Super Bowl, had a season-low 126 passing yards and one interception against the Lions on Monday night. Star receiver Davante Adams, who was brought in by Ziegler, wasn’t impressed. “I wish I had the words to say something that’s not going to get blown up in the media and taken out of context. Truly, I just don’t know,” Adams said following the loss to Detroit. “Frustration. But, I mean, that kind of goes without saying.”
What else may go without saying is that Brady may have had a hand or voice in what just happened in Vegas. He’ll likely end up staying there in some way, shape or form, but don’t be surprised if McDaniels, Ziegler and Lombardi head back to New England.
Las Vegas linebacker coach and ex-Giant Antonio Pierce will become the interim head coach for the Raiders. This is the fourth time in three seasons that the Raiders will have a new coach — the franchise fired Jon Gruden in 2021 and promoted Rich Bisaccia to his role. Despite having a winning record and leading the Raiders to the postseason, Bisaccia was replaced by McDaniels. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake.