Look at the life story of practically any great historic leader, and you'll find a moment early on when it looked like their career was at an end. In 1814, Napoleon abdicated the throne of France and was exiled by the Treaty of Fountainebleau to the island of Elba. But after 10 months, escaped and became emperor again. Lincoln once lost an election for the Illinois state legislature and later had a nervous breakdown. After the slaughter of British forces at Gallipoli in WWI, Churchill had to resign as Lord of the Admiralty in disgrace. The point being that the truly great ones have it in them to suffer the slings and arrows of failure and leave their mark on history eventually. Because there's one thing they all have in common. And that is support. Followers. People who believe in them enough to ride out the storms on their way to meet their destiny.
Which brings us to Josh McDaniels. Who in his previous career as a head coach in Denver, was exiled, out-voted, had a nervous breakdown and was removed from office after a disastrous campaign, all in the span of less than two full seasons. Then just 34 years old, he didn't have the support of anyone. In fact, his best player Brandon Marshall led an open revolt against him. Yet some 13 years later, he was able to come back from semi-exile in New England.
And this time, it seems pretty clear this is not going to be a historic, career-affirming comeback along the lines of the ones we just discussed. Just a further fall into a deeper disgrace than his Broncos failure. Not because he's 2-7. That will happen to the best of them. Not just because the Raiders have lost all six games one-score games they've been in. And not because they just got beat by a team that is tanking so hard they hired a head coach who has never coached as much as a Pee Wee practice. But because two of McDaniels' three most important offensive players are publicly admitting some of their teammates have mentally checked out on him.
Derek Carr with the teary admonition that some guys are giving all out effort but, "I wish everybody in that room felt the same way":
And Davante Adams admitting not everybody is "fully bought into" McDaniels' program:
Both of which came on the heels of Mark Davis having yet another of his private audiences with his coach:
You can survive a lot of situations. Even making Derek Carr cry. But not this.
Despite both Carr and Adams trying to couch their comments in offsetting language like "I'm not saying guys are tuning him out," the very fact they're questioning their teammates investment is all that matters. You don't hear that on teams that have a basic level of respect for the man in charge. I mean, some degree of dissension will happen in most locker rooms. That's the nature of group dynamics. Some people just drag shitty, negative attitudes around with them like a piece of carry-on luggage. A proven coach with a track record of success can deal with or just eliminate that element. Pete Carroll had detractors in Seattle after the Gallipoli-like decision to throw from the 1 in Super Bowl XLIX. But within four years, he'd cleared his roster of all but a handful of guys from that roster. McDaniels has nothing of the sort. All this is doing in confirming what his worst critics in Denver were saying in the late 2000s. And it's impossible to see a scenario where he digs his way out of this mess. Especially when his visits to the principal/owner's office has already become a tradition around Vegas.
Some have suggested that money gives him job security:
But when Davis is sitting in the owner's box of a $2 billion stadium built for him with casino revenue looking out over an angry, alienated, and remorseless mob of paying customers dressed like pirates and ready to mutiny if he doesn't do something, a contract buyout has to feel like the best investment he could make. It would certainly be better than watching riots break out at each of his four remaining home games. And in the long run, his cheapest option.
I imagine right now would be a great time to be a former Raiders player with no coaching experience working in TV. All those guys better keep their phones handy while they're on the air.