NFL Rumors: Josh McDaniels cost the Raiders a franchise quarterback

Why are the Las Vegas Raiders stuck with Jimmy Garoppolo instead of C.J. Stroud? You can blame Josh McDaniels.

Josh McDaniels. Las Vegas Raiders
Josh McDaniels. Las Vegas Raiders / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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The Las Vegas Raiders fired Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels roughly a month ago, allowing Mark Davis to reshape the franchise's leadership structure after years of failure. While McDaniels was the natural source of ire for the fanbase, unwise personnel choices consistently doomed the Raiders. Ziegler helped build the sinking ship.

According to a new report from Hondo S. Carpenter Sr. of Raiders Today, however, Ziegler may have been an unwitting passenger on a vessel captained by McDaniels.

While Ziegler and McDaniels were good friends dating back to their shared time with the New England Patriots, McDaniels quickly seized control of football operations.

"Ziegler wanted to be on the same page, but McDaniels wasted no time trusting his gut; rather than relying on his friend, he was insistent on getting his way. One league source said, “Quickly, Josh wanted it his way and wouldn’t budge. I think you could sum it up that Dave wanted to be a team, but Josh wanted it his way, and I think the ambiguity of the relationship allowed Josh to steamroll him.”

McDaniels wielded his stature within the organization to control the team's personnel moves. Perhaps none more notable than last offseason's QB selection.

The Raiders' interest in C.J. Stroud is well known, but according to Raiders Today, it was McDaniels who forced the acquisition of Jimmy Garoppolo instead. Garoppolo was a favorite of Bill Belichick and the Patriots, so naturally, McDaniels thought him a smart choice. Ziegler wanted to trade up for Stroud, but was overruled.

"'Josh wanted nothing to do with that plan. Bill loved Garoppolo, so that meant he would. He was hellbent on Jimmy G, and despite all of the health issues that he had and Dave’s incessant warnings that it was a mistake, Josh got his way.'"

Josh McDaniels' stubbornness cost Las Vegas Raiders C.J. Stroud

It's clear McDaniels' strict adherence to the 'Patriot Way' was to his detriment. Garoppolo has thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (seven) in 2023 and the Raiders have benched him for rookie Aidan O'Connell. There were plenty of warning signs tied to Garoppolo, both on the health front and the football front. The San Francisco 49ers never reached the mountaintop with Jimmy G, and yet McDaniels couldn't see past his own blinders.

Meanwhile, Stroud has locked up Rookie of the Year with a third of the season left to go. He has been one of the best QBs in the NFL, period. Not one of the best rookies — one of the best QBs. Stroud has completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 3,266 yards, 19 touchdowns, and five interceptions in 11 starts for the Houston Texans. He's an absolute superstar on the rise, and he could have been in Sin City.

Instead of celebrating Stroud's immediate success, the Raiders are stuck in purgatory. O'Connell has fans in the organization, but he's hardly the "QB of the future" in Las Vegas. Garoppolo won't be re-signed, and he may never get another starting job. The Raiders still need to draft an early-round QB or invest serious free agency capital to sign an established player with a longer shelf life than Garoppolo.

McDaniels was already a lightning rod for criticism about his coaching style and his relationship with players. Now, he's going to receive (justified) hate for overriding the front office's better judgment and potentially derailing the Raiders' future.

Stroud might get MVP votes as a rookie. The Raiders, meanwhile, are scrapping their way through the Wild Card race in advance of another pivotal offseason.

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