Josh McDaniels’ Decision: Lack of Confidence or Strategic Move?
Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels has found himself under scrutiny after opting for a field goal late in the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with his team trailing by eight points. The decision sparked questions about McDaniels’ confidence in his offense and whether it was the right strategic move.
Confidence in the Offense
When asked if the field goal decision showed a lack of confidence in his offense, McDaniels answered emphatically, “No! No!” He insisted that the decision was based on the need for an additional possession to potentially win the game.
McDaniels pointed out that the Raiders had gone for it on fourth down multiple times during the game, converting once. He highlighted the fact that they had also opted for fourth-down attempts in their first two games of the season.
McDaniels justified his decision by presenting two choices. One was to make it a five-point game through a field goal, giving the Raiders an opportunity to win with a touchdown if they regained possession. The other option was to go for it on fourth down, requiring a successful conversion and subsequent two-point conversion.
The decision to attempt the field goal may have been influenced by the Raiders’ struggles in the rushing game. With a ranking second-to-last in rushing yards, McDaniels may have felt that relying on the ground game was not the most favorable option. Furthermore, the Steelers defense, which had allowed the most rushing yards in the league through two games, proved to be formidable on Sunday.
Josh Jacobs’ Struggles
The declining performance of running back Josh Jacobs may have also factored into the decision. Jacobs, who was the NFL’s rushing champion in 2021, has struggled to find his footing in the 2023 season. With just 108 rushing yards on 45 attempts, Jacobs has averaged a mere 2.4 yards per carry.
McDaniels acknowledged that the running game’s struggles were a collective issue, stating that it required everyone to do their job well. He compared it to the previous season when Jacobs became the rushing champion, noting that the entire team had performed at a high level. McDaniels emphasized that they had not reached that level of execution yet this season.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s Interceptions
In addition to the team’s rushing woes, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance has also raised concerns. Garoppolo has thrown a league-worst six interceptions, including three in the game against the Steelers.
McDaniels acknowledged that the turnovers were plays the team did not want to make. He emphasized that Garoppolo needed to make smarter choices and move on to the next play, particularly when faced with difficult situations. Protecting the ball against the Steelers’ defense, known for capitalizing on turnovers, was crucial for the Raiders’ chances of success.
McDaniels’ decision to attempt a field goal late in the game against the Steelers has brought both his confidence in the offense and his strategic acumen into question. While McDaniels vehemently denied any lack of confidence, the struggles in the rushing game, combined with Garoppolo’s turnovers, likely influenced the decision.
Looking ahead, the Raiders will need to address these issues and find ways to improve both the running game and Garoppolo’s decision-making. With a crucial divisional matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers on the horizon, McDaniels and the coaching staff must analyze their offensive game plan to give the team the best chance for success.
<< photo by Mike Bird >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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