Josh McDaniels: First Head Coach Fired

By Stephen Juza

November 1st, 2023

This week, the Las Vegas Raiders parted ways with head coach Josh McDaniels, making him the first head coach to be fired this season. It came as a shock, not necessarily because his performance was stellar, but rather because he had four years left on his contract. Speculation had been that McDaniels would remain at the helm simply to avoid the cost of a buyout.

While it may be surprising that he was the first to be fired, his performance has been suggesting he would have been fired for the last several weeks. According to our predictive firing model, he has been over 50% three of the last four weeks of the season, peaking at 62% after Week 5.

This score is based only on the product that’s occurring on the field, it does not factor in the discontent that has occurred in the locker room all season long. Star wide receiver Davante Adams has made it clear how unhappy he is with the Raiders season. Even before the season, he had expressed that he didn’t “see eye-to-eye” with the franchise. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, a big offseason acquisition for the team this offseason, has performed poorly and lost his starting job with the McDaniels firing.

The Raiders will move forward with linebackers coach Antonio Pierce as the interim quarterback. Additionally, offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi was also fired, although no replacement was immediately named.

With McDaniels’ termination, it continues to leave Patriots coach Bill Belichick with one of the least successful coaching trees in the last thirty years. However, Belichick has always shown loyalty to his former assistants, which could just mean we see McDaniels return to the Patriots’ sideline before the end of the season.

It’s not unprecedented that a fired head coach returns as an assistant coach for another team mid-season. For example, in 2018 Browns head coach Hue Jackson was fired midseason and spent the last five weeks of the season as an assistant for the Bengals. McDaniels could help provide valuable experience for the Patriots.

While they have a true offensive coordinator this season with Bill O’Brien, it’s worth noting that McDaniels was running the offense when quarterback Mac Jones posted his best season in the NFL. While it may be too late to salvage a winning season for the Patriots, they may be able to right the ship and give the Patriots confidence with Belichick continuing into 2024.

Even if he doesn’t end up in New England in the coming weeks, expect McDaniels to be a hot commodity as an assistant for the 2024 season. Just don’t expect him to be a head coach ever again.

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