There's either an ancient Chinese curse, or a quote someone made up and attributed to ancient China to make it sound like great wisdom, that says, "May all your wishes come true."
And today, Josh McDaniels is living that curse. For the second time. Having waited a full dozen years for his second shot at being a head coach, this is where he stands five weeks into his Las Vegas career:
His team is now 1-4. They've already blown two leads of 17+ points, the only one to have done so. Offensively, the Raiders are in the Top 11 in both points and yards. But McDaniels was hired for his genius in the passing game, plus was handed the best free agent on the market in Davante Adams to go full Randy Moss on people like this:
Still, his team is middle-of-the-pack in every significant passing metric.
Defensively, they're given up the fifth most points in the league. Chandler Jones, the guy the Raiders paid $51 million to rush passers, is not rushing passers. He has zero sacks on the season. His one registered QB Hit last night brings his season total to five, with just nine total pressures and a pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus that had him at 84th best going into the game. Just among defensive ends.
So yeah, be careful what you wish for.
Even though his first chance at being a head coach ended in 2010 doesn't mean it's been forgotten or that he's working with a clean slate. McDaniels came to Vegas still lugging the baggage of his Denver trip around the AFC West with him. So after last night, losing the way he did, the whole country is bringing up the subject of that luggage. It's not fitting in the overhead bin for him. Check-in says it's over the 50-pound limit. And America is charging him a fee.
Things are already getting ugly for McDaniels. In Vegas and beyond. Let's begin with his decision to go for 2 instead of the tie with 4:27 left, which was either daring and ballsy, or reckless and nonsensical, depending on your view. Virtually everyone outside of the Raiders locker room is choosing the latter:
Raiders Wire - [I]f the Raiders had scored on the two-point conversion and gone up by one, the Chiefs would have played to score as opposed to running clock and would have had one more down as well, which is no small variable for a dangerous Chiefs offense.
Obviously there are a lot of variables. But with so much time left on the clock, the risk of staying down by one seemed greater than the potential gain of going up by one. Certainly not when easily tying the game was an option.
In the end, it was the Raiders who were put in desperation mode. And instead of taking over on offense with a tie game and playing for the win on their final drive, they were playing not to lose.
Cue the GIFs and memes:
Backing up a little, there was the unfortunate business of McDaniels telling ESPN at halftime that the key to the second half would be stopping Travis Kelce. Who proceeded to take a flamethrower to them, with last three of his four touchdowns:
Though the end of the game might ultimately be his undoing. Facing a 4th and 1 from midfield and with 0:47 left, he pulled this one out of the deep recesses of the footnotes of appendixes of his playbook:
Bringing the predictable responses:
And while a reasonable person might argue it's insane to fire a head coach five games into his career, insanity is the way things are done now. Certainly it's how they're done on social media. And increasingly in the NFL. And sometimes you just want to get ahead of the rush. Which Mark Davis has already done:
Once the public tastes coach's blood in the water (RIP to Matt Ruhle), it tends to start a feeding frenzy. Which will only get more frenzied unless McDaniels stops blowing leads, having highly questionable decisions explode in his face like Candygrams for Mongo:
… and rattles off a stretch of wins.
I do not wish for any of this. I'm a big Josh McDaniels guy. He did some amazing work here in New England for a very long time. He deserves better and I hope he gets it. But at the same time, I just saw the Pats without him win by 29 points with a third string rookie at quarterback making his first start. So at this point it's entirely possible these people are right about him. Stay tuned. It's ugly for him right now, and probably going to get much uglier.