Josh McDaniels: Does History Repeat Itself?

Josh McDaniels has become one of the most successful coordinators in all of football during his time in the league. McDaniels has overseen a boatload of success alongside Bill Belichick in New England. That success eventually led him to his first head coaching gig in Denver. Josh won the Broncos’ job in 2009, and things looked very promising. However, in this case, the good things didn’t last long.

Now, with McDaniels’ tenure in Sin City off to a rocky start, some are questioning if McDaniels is cut out to be a head coach. Some may wonder, is history repeating?

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Getty Images

Josh McDaniels’ Broncos Tenure

The hope that followed Josh McDaniels to Denver led to questions after some interesting moves early on in his reign. First, McDaniels decided to move on from Jay Cutler, sending him to the Chicago Bears. This led to a saga as the search for a quarterback began. McDaniels ended up bringing in Kyle Orton to replace Cutler.

Yet, there seemed to be a method to Josh’s madness at first. The Broncos would find themselves with a 6-0 record — a very impressive start for the rookie head coach.

Unfortunately, shortly after that things began to unravel. Denver lost eight of their last 10 games, and would finish the season with a 8-8 record. After the season ended, McDaniels traded star receiver Brandon Marshall to Miami.

More questionable moves and poor performances would eventually lead to McDaniels’ downfall. Drafting Tim Tebow and trading Peyton Hillis proved to be awful decisions. His 3-9 record during his second season didn’t help much, either. McDaniels was eventually fired before his second season concluded.

Josh McDaniels’ Raiders Tenure

Josh McDaniel’s second job as a head coach would have to wait a while. He ran himself into a fiasco in Indianapolis, but that fizzled out and he returned to New England. After more success with Belichick and the Patriots, McDaniels was eventually hired by the Las Vegas Raiders before the 2022 season.

His first offseason cycle in Sin City was promising. Unlike his first job, McDaniels would inherit a talented, playoff-caliber team in Las Vegas. The Raiders owned the fifth seed in 2021, and nearly knocked off the eventual AFC Champions in the first round.

Things got a lot more exciting when the Raiders signed Chandler Jones shortly before trading for Davante Adams. Adding these two to a playoff roster seemed to be a recipe for success. Unfortunately, things once again didn’t go according to plan for McDaniels.

The first season under McDaniels would turn out to be a disaster. Las Vegas won just six games, and lost four games in which they had a 17-point lead.

As the season wound to a close, McDaniels would make the decision to bench Derek Carr and attempt to trade him after the season. While this decision may help the franchise in the long run, it further ruffled feathers between McDaniels and the fan base.

Another Disaster? Or is it Too Early to Tell?

Indeed, there are some similarities between both of Josh Mcdaniels’ head coaching tenures up to this point. The main reason for that has been the commonality of losing, with rare wins sprinkled in between. At this point, both franchises have soured on McDaniels for various reasons.

One potentially troubling similarity is Josh’s removal of a starting quarterback. He was quick to discard Cutler, but gave Carr 15 games before making the decision to move on from him.

In Denver, McDaniels got rid of several skill players in hopes of bringing in his own. Cutler, Hillis, and Marshall were all shown the door before McDaniels’ second season in charge. In Las Vegas, it hasn’t been quite the same. Carr will be gone, but he’s been involved in trade rumors for quite some time now. McDaniels’ moves in Denver were much more abrupt.

Ultimately, it seems too early to tell if history will repeat itself in Las Vegas. McDaniels currently owns a 17-28 record as a head coach, so he hasn’t been impressive in either city. Raiders fans will hope 2023 brings change, but up until now, McDaniels hasn’t done anything to prove himself or instill confidence to the fan base.

Three Underrated NFL Players From 2022-23 Season

Another NFL season has come and gone. With that, each player has another year under their belts, and each player has another year notched off their career. Now, the endless cycle of fan opinions regarding these players circulates, and now new players have earned “underrated” and “overrated” titles. With that in mind, here are three of the most underrated NFL players from this past season.

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Cox/Getty Images

Tyler Allgeier

Tyler Allgeier was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft last year by the Falcons. With a draft selection that late, and Cordaralle Patterson already on the roster, his expectations were understandably small. However, Patterson suffered some injuries this season, which gave a ton of playing time to Allgeier. He did not waste a second.

Allgeier never really got the credit he deserved for what was a fantastic rookie season. He finished his rookie season with 210 attempts, which came out to an astounding 1,035 yards, good enough for nearly five yards per carry. Allgeier put together an impressive rookie season, and has a bright future ahead of him.

Tyson Campbell

Tyson Cambell had an up-and-down rookie season. He was impressive at times, but was rocky at others. Campbell used his first off-season to work on his game. That paid off in major ways in 2022.

Campbell finished the season as the sixth-best overall cornerback, and the sixth-best coverage grade by Pro Football Focus. He earned an 81.9 overall grade, and an 81.5 coverage grade. Campbell really came on as the season has came to an end, and was been a large part of the reason the Jaguars got so far this season.

Jaelan Phillips

Jaelen Phillips is the third, and final, young guy on this list. Phillips didn’t do much of anything in his rookie season, bringing low expectations into his sophomore campaign.

Phillips would go on to have an excellent second season, as he finished the season graded as the sixth best edge defender by Pro Football Focus. In his second season, Phillips lodged nine sacks, and a very impressive 44 hurries. Phillips made some stark improvement and finished the season as one of the most underrated NFL players.

Baltimore Ravens 2023 Positional Needs

The Baltimore Ravens 2022 season was another rough outing, despite the team finishing with a 10-7 record and a playoff berth. Baltimore’s star quarterback Lamar Jackson missed the latter half of the season with an injury and the offensive struggles mounted in his absence.

The last few weeks have been tough sledding for fans and the team itself as all of their frustrations boiled over following Baltimore’s Wild Card loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. With rumors swirling about Jackson’s departure, there is little room for optimism for fans. 

Despite this, the Baltimore Ravens staff is already taking steps into rectifying their recent failures. Chiefly, the team announced Thursday afternoon they will be parting ways with maligned offensive coordinator, Greg Roman.

In addition to a new offensive coach, the Ravens have several positional needs that must be filled. The team possesses only five draft picks, so they may need to rely more heavily on free agency this time. Despite this, here are the following positional needs for the Baltimore Ravens. 

Photo Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens Needs by Position Heading into 2023

Wide Receiver 

It’s a tale as old as time for the Baltimore Ravens. Wide receiver is a position that has the team perpetually snakebit, and is always a topic of conversation. Every off-season the Ravens seek to add receiver talent, with varying degrees of success. The team has found quality players in Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay, however, the former has struggled with injuries early in his career. 

Unfortunately for the Ravens, the free agent class of receivers isn’t stellar this year, with many of the potential additions playing past their prime in 2022. Many fans clamor for veterans like DeAndre Hopkins, but with limited draft capitol it may be a bit more difficult to trade for a player of that caliber. 

Conversely, the 2023 NFL Draft boasts several exciting receiver talents. USC’s Jordan Addison, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and UNC’s Josh Downs are three players that would be immediate upgrades on offense. With a late first-round pick, the Baltimore Ravens could be in range for either one of those players to address their needs at wide receiver. 

Cornerback

Marcus Peters and Kevon Seymour will be free agents and will be entering their age-30 seasons this year. Kyle Fuller is coming off of a knee injury and may not return in 2023, despite a promising start. Brandon Stephens and Pepe Williams have flashed in their limited playing time this past year but are not enough.  

Similar to the wid receivers, the free agency pool isn’t inspiring however the draft has far more promise. While they’re likely out of range for star players such as Christian Gonzalez or Joey Porter Jr., Baltimore could settle for someone like Devon Witherspoon or Kelee Ringo — great consolation prizes for Mike MacDonald’s defense.  

Five-Technique Defensive End

Calais Campbell is 36 years old and mulling his retirement, while Brent Urban is a free agent yet again. Both have been key parts of Baltimore’s past defensive philosophy, and a lot of what they do up front hinges on a stout five-technique. 

Urban is younger and could come back on a team-friendly minimum deal. Additionally, veterans like Dean Lowry, A’Shawn Robinson, and Matt Ioannidis would be typical Baltimore Ravens signings that would help bolster their front seven. 

As for the NFL Draft, there are quite a few players who fit the Baltimore Ravens mold at the defensive end. Tyree Wilson is the best of the bunch, while Iowa’s Lukas Van Ness is a high-upside player who could be more in their range. Conversely, later options such as Keion White from Georgia Tech or Colby Wooden could be plug-and-play starters for Baltimore. 

Offensive Guard 

A sneaky need for the Baltimore Ravens, as both Ben Powers and Trystan Colon-Castillo are set to hit free agency. Additionally, Baltimore may not feel comfortable playing former-third round pick Ben Cleveland after his struggles during camp and in the preseason. Given the free agency crop this year, Baltimore may be better off signing one of the two rather than taking a chance with a veteran past their prime. 

However, prospects such as O’Cyrus Torrence and Emil Ekiyor feel like players Baltimore could feasibly target — despite their limited picks in 2023. Torrence is often mocked in the latter half of first-round mock drafts, which is right in range for the Ravens.

Edge Rusher 

Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul are both aging free agents that are not guaranteed to return to Baltimore in 2023. Former first-round pick Odafe Oweh had a sophomore slump in 2022, despite expectations. Rookie David Ojabo flashed in his limited play time, so the jury is still out if he can become the elite pass rusher the Baltimore Ravens envisioned for him. 

This isn’t as much of a pressing need for the Ravens as other positions, so signing low-risk free agents such as Clellin Ferrell, Arden Key, or Jadeveon Clowney would be smart.

The 2023 edge class is also incredibly deep, so locating a rotational pass rusher on day three is on the table as well. Names to watch for Baltimore include CMU’s Thomas Incoom, Iowa State’s Will McDonald IV or Auburn’s Eku Leota. 

Best NFL Bets for Divisional Round

We are back with some more great NFL bets with the playoff field narrowed down to eight teams! Last week, we went three for six on the Wild Card games. Let’s see if we can get above .500 this week. Here are the best NFL bets for each game of this weekend’s Divisional round. All lines come via Draft Kings as of Friday afternoon.

NFL Best Bets: Divisional Round

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Jaguars at Chiefs: Chiefs -9 (-110)

The Jags have no business playing in this round of the playoffs. They lucked out by having last week’s game given away by the incompetence of Brandon Staley. Jacksonville simply doesn’t have what it takes to keep up with Kansas City.

This game reminds me of the Tim Tebow Broncos team that snuck by the Pittsburgh Steelers only to get curb-stomped by the New England Patriots. Take the Chiefs to win this one by double digits.

Giants at Eagles: Giants +7.5 (-110)

This is going to be a great game. The Giants are playing great football right now. However, they are running into a phenomenal Eagles team that has had a couple weeks to get healthy. The Eagles should certainly be favored in this one, but this spread is a little steep. At the end of the day, this is still a divisional battle. Philadelphia should win, but it will be by less than a touchdown.

Bengals at Bills: OVER 48.5 (-110)

This game is impossible to pick. This is, by far, the most even matchup this weekend. One thing is certain, we will see a ton of offense. Both of these teams have great quarterbacks, fantastic receivers, and okay defenses. That is a recipe for a high-scoring affair. The winner of this game will need to get to at least 30. Take the over.

Cowboys at 49ers: 49ers -4 (-110)

This could be a great game. Both of these teams have a ton of talent on both sides of the football. However, there are some concerning mismatches. The Cowboys have had a lot of success this year relying on a two-pronged rushing attack with Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard. That won’t work against this San Francisco defense.

Unfortunately, Dallas does not have the wide receivers to take advantage of this suspect 49ers secondary. In the end, the 49ers will get enough stops on defense, control the ball on offense, and win somewhat comfortably. Dallas is good enough to keep it interesting, but they won’t keep it within four points.

Best Bets Recap

  • Chiefs (-9)
  • Giants (+7.5)
  • Bengals/Bills o48.5
  • 49ers (-4)

2023 NFL Draft: Darnell Wright Scouting Report

Mammoth Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright is poised to be a great value pick in the 2023 NFL draft

Offensive tackle is one of the most important positions in football and we see so many of them get drafted high come April. In this upcoming class, countless talented tackles have been mocked in the top 50. One of those is Darnell Wright, an absolute mammoth of a man controlling the right side for the Tennessee Volunteers. Wright stands at 6’6”, 335 pounds and is a force with his raw strength.

A former five star recruit, Wright has the pedigree of a top tier player. He’s currently projected to land somewhere in the late first-to-mid second round this spring. Let’s dive into the scouting report on Darnell Wright!

Darnell Wright Scouting Report

Darnell Wright Scouting Report
Photo Credit: Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Strengths on tape

Games Watched: Pitt (2022), Florida (2022), LSU (2022), Alabama (2022)

The first thing that immediately stands out about Wright is his otherworldly raw strength, particularly in his hands. It truthfully does not matter who’s in front of him. If he gets his hands on you, it’s over. With absolute vice grips attached to his wrists, Wright can shut down an array of moves from opposing edge rushers.

This was extremely evident in the Pittsburgh game. The same skip move (the James Houston move) was tried on him three separate times (it failed all three times). Seemingly every move was thrown at Wright this season and he never flinched. 

His patience and polish in pass protection is what really stands out. Not even a pro yet, Wright has nearly perfected the snatch-and-trap move. This move appears on his film multiple times each game. So many times he just shuts down whatever gets thrown at him, and it looks to be effortless as well. He has perfected the ability to win each rep with his hands.

Wright’s strength and power have emerged as his trump cards for anything thrown his way. Whether he’s de-cleating someone mid-spin move or just refusing to let Will Anderson disengage, Wright was an impenetrable force in pass protection.  

Concerns 

Look, he’s big and slow. If you can’t get past that, then he is not a player who should be on your board. Despite all his size and power, Wright really struggles to get on the move. There are some positive reps as a puller, but that is also inconsistent because of his limited range. Teams who ask their linemen to get out on the move should not be looking towards Wright.

Another concern is inconsistent hand placement. There are a handful of reps where he allows his hands to drift high and get up around the facemask of who he’s blocking. That getting cleaned up would make him even more reliable in pass protection. 

Team fits 

Whether it’s the late first or the mid second, there are a good amount of teams who should be heavily considering Darnell Wright. One of those is the Dallas Cowboys. With Tyron Smith’s availability issues, Dallas could consider moving on and plugging in Wright on the right side to pair with future Hall of Famer Zack Martin.

Another team who may consider Wright is the Arizona Cardinals. With a new head coach coming in, it is imperative to do everything they can to ensure that Kyler Murray is a $200 million quarterback whenever he returns. The best way to do that is to protect him.