The Las Vegas Raiders are 1-3, complete with a milquetoast offense, a very bad defense, and no discernible path to contention in a talent-laden AFC. Owner Mark Davis spent a lot of money to lure head coach Josh McDaniels away from Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Since his arrival last season, McDaniels is 7-14.
Of course, the blame cannot be entirely placed on McDaniels. The front office deserves blame for paying Jimmy Garoppolo, possibly drafting the worst top-10 pick in recent memory, and a slew of other personnel mistakes. The actual personnel deserves blame, too. A coach can't coach if the players can't play.
But, at some point, all blame circles back to the man in charge. If a team doesn't perform, the coach will always take the fall. McDaniels was tasked with leading the Raiders back to relevancy after a rocky few years under Jon Gruden. The on-field results have hardly changed, at least not for the better.
The thing about NFL fans is that they're quite passionate about their beliefs. Even if they don't have a comprehensive understanding of the topic at hand, you can expect a forceful and unambiguous expression of their opinion. That leads to moments like last Sunday when a group of Raiders fans told team owner Mark Davis to fire McDaniels.
Mark Davis gets upset at Las Vegas Raiders fans when asked to fire Josh McDaniels
This is the classic owner-fan dynamic. Fans expressing a very reasonable demand (in an undeniably annoying and ill-conceived fashion) while the owner completely brushes it aside and questions the intelligence of his paying customers.
It's generally not great for NFL owners, or any sports owner, to tell his fanbase to "smarten up." Bad optics, made even worse by Davis' penchant for endorsing absolutely boneheaded moves. The Raiders were last relevant... when?
There has been nothing but disappointment since the franchise abandoned its loyal fanbase in Oakland for a more revenue-friendly venue in Sin City. The Raiders are one of the worst teams in football despite a hefty payroll and several established veterans.
McDaniels now has a career record of 18-31 as a head coach. After years of playing hard-to-get in the offensive coordinator role with New England, McDaniels is once again stewing in mediocrity as a lead decision-maker. His offense is painfully middle-of-the-road and his best player is openly discontent with the team's lack of identity.
How long until the Raiders start winning? Odds are it takes a change at head coach, some soul-searching in the front office, and a recalibrated approach from Davis as the franchise overlord who stands above it all. Tom Brady as minority owner probably won't help given his strong rapport with McDaniels, but at some point, the Raiders have to show the ability to win football games.