All week, everyone who pays attention to the NFL has been trying to figure out what the heck is going on in Indianapolis. Frank Reich was fired, replaced by Jeff Saturday and his zero experience coaching in high-level football, followed by Colts owner Jim Irsay doubling, tripling and quadrupling down on the strangest hire in recent history. To top it off, the Colts said 30-year-old assistant quarterbacks coach Parks Frazier would call offensive plays, something he has never done before.
What a circus, right? Well, the only thing crazier would be a 2-6 team that made the playoffs last season losing at home this weekend to that Colts coach who has no experience other than high school, and the play-caller who looks like he was randomly picked out of a fraternity party.
Josh McDaniels and the Las Vegas Raiders better not lose this one.
Raiders are having a bad season
The Raiders are 2-6. Last season, they lost seven games the entire regular season, and that was with a mountain of distractions to deal with.
Rich Bisaccia looked like a reasonable pick for the full-time job after taking over as the interim following Jon Gruden's firing. He led the Raiders to the playoffs and they almost beat the Cincinnati Bengals, who nearly won a Super Bowl. But Raiders owner Mark Davis wanted a bigger name. He hired McDaniels.
McDaniels had a miserable first turn as an NFL head coach. He lost 17 of his last 22 games with the Denver Broncos in 2009-10. He left the franchise in disarray (John Elway came on as general manager and instantly built a contender and a Super Bowl 50 champion, which often gets ignored when scoffing at his attempts to fix QB after Peyton Manning's retirement ... but that's a different tale to tell). McDaniels rebuilt his career by going back to the New England Patriots as their offensive coordinator. There should have been alarms going off about hiring McDaniels when he agreed to take a head-coaching job in 2018 but didn't get on the plane for the introductory news conference.
Yeah, the Colts probably remember being left at the altar by McDaniels, though the rest of this week's drama has obscured that storyline.
McDaniels has now lost 23 of his past 30 games as a head coach after a miserable start to this season. The Raiders have to be concerned. And if the Raiders lose to the Jeff Saturday traveling spectacle ... look out.
Colts are in a weird position
The Raiders shouldn't lose Sunday. They're at home. Their opponent's head coach probably spent most of the week learning the roster. Their playcaller had a few days to put together his first playbook. The Raiders are a 6.5-point favorite at BetMGM.
Yet, teams often respond to a coaching change. It's hard to say how a team will respond to a new coach who was randomly hired off the ESPN set and has coached only a few years in high school before. Still, just when it seems impossible for an NFL team to pull it together and win a game, it often does.
If Davis' splashy hire loses to the former head coach of Hebron Christian High School to fall to 2-7, the attention to McDaniels' miserable start will intensify. After the Raiders blew a 17-point lead and lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday, receiver Davante Adams questioned the team's second-half plan. That's usually one of the steps in the wheels totally coming off for a coach.
“The way we were attacking in the first half, it was working,” Adams said, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We got away from that and started playing the game a little different.
"We could have continued doing what we were doing in the first half, and it would have been, you know, who knows. But I feel we didn’t put ourselves in the best position based on how we came out in the second half.”
It should be a positive for the Raiders to catch a Colts team in disarray this week. It increases their chances to get a much-needed win.
However, if they lose after what has happened in Indianapolis this week, a lot of the NFL's focus would shift to what's going on in Las Vegas.