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New FSM Feature: Raiders Hire Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels

Franchise Sports Media


Mark Davis has decided the new direction for the Raiders by hiring Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels to lead the Silver and Black.


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Al Davis’ statement,”The greatness of the Raiders lies in their future,” is a saying Raider Nation knows all too well.

Years later, his son, Mark, is once again betting on that. Less than two weeks after being bounced from the playoffs on Super Wild Card Weekend, the younger Davis has decided on the Raiders’ future and its new brain trust.

Once again, Mark Davis is faced with a game-changing decision. After a slew of off-the-field distractions that the team went through in 2021, the Raiders needed to get as far away from 2021 as possible.

The chaos started right before the season with the resignation of top team executives, followed by the Jon Gruden email scandal a few weeks later, and then the Henry Ruggs III tragic car accident that took a young woman and her dog’s life. We also can’t forget Damon Arnette and his stupid actions on social media threatening someone’s life with a gun a week after the Ruggs III incident.

Mark Davis knew that the Raiders needed to clean house and leave the negativity of 2021 in the past. He also knew that another rebuild would not work in Las Vegas or with Raider Nation.

So Davis and the Las Vegas Raiders have decided to hire New England Patriots’ executive, Dave Ziegler, as their new General Manager and the Patriots’ offensive coordinator ,Josh McDaniels, as their 22nd head coach. The Raiders interviewed Ziegler on January 21st and McDaniels on the 29th.


What does this hire mean for Mark Davis?


Raiders head coach
Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

For Davis, this is a monumental hire. I don’t mean to make it sound too dramatic, but facts are facts.

The pulse of Las Vegas sports started to beat Silver and Black when the Raiders were winning games. For a brief time, and in short segments, the Raiders dominated the city’s vibe. They overshadowed the rest of the teams in the town and showed the power of the shield, much to the chagrin of some other teams and their owners.

But these will be the first two significant decisions Davis will face this offseason.

Jim Harbaugh had an interest in becoming the Raiders head coach. While sources have told me that there was communication between the Raiders and Harbaugh, Davis wanted to conduct an honest, thorough search to bring the best possible coach to the Raiders. While Harbaugh was trying to call around and put a potential staff together, Davis and his teams were busy doing what was best for the Raiders.

Davis wanted to bring in people who could create a winning environment, work well together, and be in it for the long haul. He wanted two people, preferably, who already had a relationship and worked in tandem with one singular goal in mind: bring Raider Nation Super Bowl titles. He didn’t want one voice that felt they had the ultimate say-so. He went that route with Gruden and it didn’t turn out well. Football is the ultimate team sport and the successful franchises carry that culture from the field into the front office. The same can be said for when Reggie McKensie hired Dennis Allen as the head coach, which Davis wasn’t thrilled about but rolled with it because his hand-picked GM hired him.

So this time, Davis wanted to split the difference and find the happy medium that will hopefully lead to success.

By choosing to hire Josh McDaniels, Davis decided that the Raiders would be better off with a young (45-year-old) coach who has a reputation for working wonders with quarterbacks and isn’t going to look to leave prematurely. McDaniels’ offenses are great in the redzone and he believes in structure and his teams being disciplined. Coupled with McDaniels‘ relationship, both professionally and personally, with Ziegler, it was the best of both worlds for Davis.

On paper, this is the perfect match and exactly what Mark Davis was looking to do.


What Raider Nation needs to know about new GM Dave Ziegler:


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Ziegler was among the organization’s first requests for an interview, with the news emerging before confirmation of former Raiders GM Mike Mayock’s departure. Ziegler has quickly ascended up the list of rising stars among NFL executives.

Since first arriving in New England in 2012, he spent three years as assistant director of pro scouting, four as director of pro personnel, and was promoted to assistant director of player personnel under Nick Caserio in 2020.

When Caserio joined the Houston Texans, Ziegler entered the line of sight of the Denver Broncos. The team expressed interest in his services to fill their then-vacant general manager position. But Ziegler turned them down.

To keep him in Foxboro, the Patriots promoted Ziegler to his current role as director of player personnel. He was serving as New England’s de facto general manager. Ziegler was reportedly heavily involved in both the scouting and selection process in the 2021 NFL Draft. Quarterback Mac Jones, defensive tackle Christian Barmore, and former Las Vegas Centennial High School star running back Rhamondre Stevenson are expected to be integral components of the Patriots’ franchise for many years to come, and they were all Ziegler picks.


Ziegler had a lot of competition for the Raiders’ general manager job. He had to beat out the following candidates:


Photo Credit: Barry Chin/Boston Globe

Champ Kelly: As the Chicago Bears’ assistant director of player personnel, Kelly has some experience working with Josh McDaniels since the two spent time at the Broncos together. Kelly left Denver in 2015 to take over as Chicago’s director of pro scouting. Two years later, he was promoted to his current position.

Trey Brown: A scouting assistant and area scout for the Patriots between 2010 and 2012, Brown spent some time in Philadelphia, the AAFC, and the XFL before taking on his current scouting position with the Bears.

Ed Dodds: Dodds has served as the Indianapolis Colts’ assistant general manager for the last four seasons, but his experience goes beyond that. He was considered the front-runner early on. He also spent time in Seattle and as an intern for the Raiders in the early 2000s. Dodds also interviewed with the Bears, but he did not get that job.

Ruston Webster: A long-time member of the front offices in Tampa Bay, Seattle, and Tennessee, Webster has spent the last six years as a scout for the Atlanta Falcons. He does have some general manager experience. Between 2012 and 2015, he served as the Titans’ GM.

Brandon Hunt: The Pittsburgh Steelers’ pro scouting coordinator of the last 12 seasons, Hunt is responsible for “scouting Steelers’ opponents and evaluating pro players.” He also spent time as a pro scout for the Houston Texans before arriving in Pittsburgh. With Kevin Colbert stepping aside on Friday, he is the front-runner for the Steelers GM position.

Dwayne Joseph: Joseph would be an in-house replacement. The 49-year-old spent the last three seasons as Las Vegas’ director of pro scouting. Before joining the Raiders, he spent time in Chicago, Miami, and Philadelphia serving as the Eagles’ director of pro personnel during their 2017 Super Bowl run.

John Spytek: Spytek hasn’t had his interview yet, but he is still supposed to talk to the Raiders. The Buccaneers’ vice president of player personnel, Spytek has been with Tampa Bay for the last six seasons and has 18 years of NFL service on his résumé. Before joining his current team, he spent time in Denver, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Detroit.

Those seven, plus Ziegler, have been in the discussion for the Raiders’ GM position as of Friday morning. There are other potential candidates as well, including former Patriots national scout DuJuan Daniels, who left to join Las Vegas in 2019, and current Patriots executive Eliot Wolf.


What Raider Nation needs to know about Josh McDaniels and why things aren’t always what they seem.


Photo Credit: AP

This is a polarizing hire for Raider Nation.

A large part of the fanbase wanted Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who definitely had a significant interest in the Raiders head coaching job and made that clear behind back channels, according to Raiders’ sources. Things didn’t materialize and Davis moved forward in his search.

One thing that Davis was unsure about was the level of autonomy he wanted his head coach to have.

But McDaniels hasn’t done himself any favors in the reputation department, at least that’s the public perception.

First, he was the Denver Broncos head coach, and at 33 years old, he was the youngest in the NFL at that time. He was considered a “whiz-kid” and was given a lot of say in personnel decisions in Denver. Many of those decisions did not work out for him or the Broncos, including drafting Tim Tebow in the first round.

Secondly, he was reportedly hired by the Indianapolis Colts, only to back out of that job a short time later. But there is much more to that story that hasn’t been reported. McDaniels had a press conference set in Indianapolis to announce him as the next head coach of the Colts. However, the evening before the press conference, McDaniels backed out of his spoken agreement with the Colts and opted to stay with the New England Patriots as their offensive coordinator.

Rumors surfaced shortly after McDaniels decided to stay in New England. Reports said it was because owner Robert Kraft wanted him to be the heir to Bill Belichick when the long-tenured head coach decided to retire. So a last-minute meeting between the two parties happened, and Kraft convinced McDaniels to stay with the Patriots instead of joining the Colts. However, that idea was shut down by those close to the situation who were told there was no definitive deal between McDaniels and the Patriot’s organization for that to happen.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, “It had everything to do with stuff that fans don’t care about. How is strength and conditioning going to set up? Who does medical report to? How does video work? It was all these structural things that (Chris) Ballard and Josh (McDaniels) had done and said, ‘Okay, this is how we are going to set it up.’

Somehow, they didn’t get around to discussing any of that. And Ballard, who had come from a place and places where the general manager set that up, and McDaniels had come from a place where the coach had power over all of that, disagreed. That’s where it fell apart.

I don’t think for Josh, leaving Indianapolis had anything to do with picking players. I think he wants someone he can trust picking players, and there are guys he can bring with him to Carolina or Cleveland who can do that. I think for him, it is more so having the organization aligned properly when it comes to all that other stuff and having a guy he can trust picking players for him,Breer said at the time.

But in NFL circles, McDaniels is well thought of and viewed very favorably by his peers and other head coaches. It wasn’t a matter of IF McDaniels would get another head coaching job, it was when and where. Mark Davis felt the time was now in Las Vegas.


So why does McDaniels make sense for the Raiders now?


Photo Credit: Winston Townson/USA TODAY Sports

McDaniels has been with the Patriots’ organization for a total of 12 years. He has seen Bill Belichick manage the football team as the general manager and head coach during that time. This allows Belichick to coordinate anything and everything that has to do with football operations.

So, according to Breer, when McDaniels was uncertain about how some of the smaller details of football operations were going to play out in Indianapolis under Chris Ballard, it was enough uncertainty to decline his first head-coaching job since 2011.

While McDaniels failed in Denver, who’s to say he hasn’t learned and matured since then? Mike Shanahan had a miserable 22 games as the Los Angeles Raiders head coach, only to learn from it and win two Super Bowls in Denver. Before getting the Patriots’ head coaching job, even the great Belichick didn’t have an overly successful tenure as the Cleveland Browns head coach.

This past season, McDaniels has been praised around the NFL for his work with rookie quarterback Mack Jones. McDaniels was instrumental in Jones’ development and only added a feather in his cap in league circles. This could prove to be valuable for the Raiders with either of these scenarios: If they decide to keep Derek Carr, extend him, and draft a young quarterback in the mid-rounds, or if they choose to move on from Carr and take a quarterback early in the 2022 NFL Draft.

In either scenario, McDaniels and his ability to develop and work with quarterbacks will be key. The same can be said for his offense, where he does a great job of confusing defenses that relies on movement, quick passes, and a running game. All those things bode well for the current cast of characters on the Raiders roster. Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, and Josh Jacobs would be good fits for a McDaniels-led offense.

Mark Davis has done his homework on McDaniels and what he would bring to Las Vegas. For McDaniels, the Raiders were the only team with which he chose to interview, rebuffing other organizations this hiring cycle. McDaniels has also vetted the Raiders, Davis, and the team, so both parties know what they are getting. McDaniels reportedly has already put a staff together and was doing so before his interview on January 29th, so he’s ready to go.


So who will have the final say in personnel matters?


Photo Credit: John Carroll University

This is where the relationship between Ziegler and McDaniels comes into play. They know each other extremely well. Both attended John Carroll University, where they were teammates on the football team, and there is a built-in trust between them.

They have a like-minded vision and approach to building a championship-caliber team and know each other’s work ethic. They also know what the other would like in terms of players and which characteristics to look for.

So when it comes to making the final decision, I believe Ziegler will have the last and final voice on personnel. But with his relationship with McDaniels being as solid it is, that shouldn’t be an issue since the Raiders would be adding parts of the “Patriot Way” into their building.

While success hasn’t been guaranteed by hiring a Patriots coach as a team’s new head coach (they have a .410 winning percentage once they leave Belichick), Mark Davis wants to add continuity and a winning culture into his building. The Raiders are coming off a playoff appearance and have some really good pieces to build on. It’s about reloading, not rebuilding.

Now it’s up to Ziegler and McDaniels to lead the way. They will have one goal: to continue to add to the current pieces and help restore glory to Raider Nation.


We started with Al Davis’ quote “The greatness of the Raiders lies in their future,” and for Mark Davis & Raider Nation, the future is now. It’s up to Ziegler and McDaniels to make it a bright one. 

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-Joe Arrigo– Franchise Sports Media

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