Maybe Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady will reunite in Las Vegas.
Maybe Derek Carr’s benching is a precursor to one last ride for the former Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterback in the desert.
But if Raiders owner Mark Davis is seeking sustainability, and if McDaniels has some runway to build this the right way, they should not be seeking a quick fix with a 46-year-old quarterback next fall.
“None of us is happy with where we’re at,” McDaniels said this week.
This is McDaniels’ second try at proving that he can step out of Bill Belichick’s shadow and run his own show.
It went south quickly in Denver with an 11-17 record before being fired in the middle of the 2010 season. It has been a disappointing 6-9 start in Las Vegas.
But they’ve lost eight, one-score games. Another Dave Ziegler draft or two should restock a roster that has some top-end talent but little depth.
And McDaniels just proved a year ago with Mac Jones in New England that he can help draft and develop a productive young QB on the rise.
Brady, for all of his greatness, is not immortal, either.
His shortcomings have contributed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ downturn this season. His 6.2 yards per attempt and 9.4 yards per catch are career lows, down from 7.4 and 11.0 a season ago, respectively.
Carr wasn’t the only reason the Raiders were losing, and this season’s version of Brady wouldn’t be a cure-all in Sin City.
Brady’s departure from New England in 2020 also was connected in part to frustrations with McDaniels and the offense.
Not to mention that signing with the Raiders would put Brady in two head-to-head division matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the L.A. Chargers’ Justin Herbert.
That said, of course, it’s not even playing connect the dots to envision Brady wearing the silver and black next fall. One can practically just draw a straight line.
UFC president Dana White famously had worked out Brady and Rob Gronkowski coming to the Raiders back in 2020 before White said then-coach Jon Gruden pulled the deal (amid Brady’s years-long tampering/dalliance with the Miami Dolphins).
The best way to placate Raiders star receiver Davante Adams — who signed with Vegas because to join his college quarterback Carr — might be to bring in an experienced quarterback who will feed him the ball now.
Brady recently said on his Let’s Go! Podcast that the next time he retires it will be for good, but he’ll think long and hard about this time after un-retiring quickly earlier this year.
“I’m going to take my time whenever that time does come,” he said.
And if McDaniels is on the hot seat in 2023 and in need of a quick fix to win and keep his job, then shooting the moon for Brady to squeeze one more run out of the G.O.A.T. would be the logical move.
They’re still friends, too. Brady publicly called McDaniels “a tremendous coach” when he got the Raiders job.
It’s just that benching Carr likely sets the Raiders up to lose their final two games against the 49ers and Chiefs, finish 6-11 and secure a top 10 pick in April’s draft.
McDaniels has a chance to make this his own, to rubber-stamp a program that is McDaniels’ Raiders and not Patriots West.
No one is saying to tear this down and rebuild. But drafting a quarterback or going to get Jones out of New England in a trade, for example, would help the current program while also keeping an eye on the long term.
The Raiders benched Carr primarily due to “performance,” however, as one source told the Daily News — in addition to dodging an injury that would have cost them $40.4 million if Carr had been unable to pass a physical early this spring.
If immediate performance and a quick fix is what Davis is seeking, and if McDaniels is under pressure to win now or else, then Brady to Vegas makes all the sense in the world.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for the franchise to do.
WILSON STILL A HUGE BRONCOS PROBLEM
The firing of Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett was inevitable but didn’t resolve Denver’s biggest problem: Russell Wilson’s subpar play and albatross contract. Broncos interim coach Jerry Rosburg will play out the string.
GM George Paton is a respected and tenured executive who acknowledged to Broncos CEO Greg Penner and ownership that some of his big recent calls haven’t worked out.
Penner said recently that Wilson “knows he can play better” and that “I understand [Paton’s] thought process” and will continue to rely on Paton “heavily.” It will be a challenging head coaching vacancy to fill. Although Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy defended Wilson publicly this week, the player and person have been a massive disappointment.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Coaches whose job security looks bleak with two weeks to go: Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury and Texans’ Lovie Smith. Coaches who might need some late wins to feel more secure: Commanders’ Ron Rivera, Falcons’ Arthur Smith, Browns’ Kevin Stefanski.
Coach who has shown the most in the second half of the season: Panthers interim Steve Wilks.
Coach who surged late to make the playoffs and likely protect his job: Chargers’ Brandon Staley. And how deep a playoff run does Mike McCarthy have to make to satisfy owner Jerry Jones? Stay tuned.
Sean Payton is one of the big names lurking on the coaching carousel, and if the Chargers’ job is not opening, that narrows his list.
David Blough will start at QB for the Cardinals on Sunday and become the 64th different QB to start a game through 17 weeks this season.
Per ESPN, that ties the non-strike-season record set in 2007. Only 11 teams have had only one starting QB this season, and the Giants are one of them with Daniel Jones.
Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson appeared to go into a fencing position briefly when he was flipped onto his head by Giants safety Julian Love on a Christmas Eve catch. But Minnesota’s doctors allowed him to return to the game after a concussion evaluation, even though the fencing position is supposed to be a “no-go” concussion sign in games.
This is part of the NFL’s supposedly enhanced concussion protocols in the wake of the early-season mishandling of Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa’s concussions. The league and union did not respond to comment when asked by the News whether a review of the Hockenson situation was initiated or opened, though, while Tagovailoa’s latest concussion is again being loudly reviewed (by the NFL) and investigated (by the union).
THEY SAID IT
“I wish I could’ve played better for him.” — Wilson on Hackett, who was fired before the end of his first NFL season with a 4-11 record