In front of more than 100 friends, family members and his hometown crowd, Josh McDaniels led the Las Vegas Raiders to their first preseason win, knocking off the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-11.
The Silver and Black's head coach returned to the field he once played on, gaining a victory on the same sidelines he watched his father, Thom McDaniels, stroll up and down for nearly two decades. The experience was something the coach described as "a unique opportunity."
"Very grateful that I had [the chance]," McDaniels said after the game. "It's the first time I've been in this Hall of Fame Game in 22 years. To have an opportunity to do that with him here and my family and plenty of people that helped me along the way, I think it was a special night for them. You never know if you'll get this opportunity again. I really savored it. It was a good opportunity for all of us, and I think we all enjoyed it."
One standout performance for the team came from none other than their rookie running back Zamir White. The fourth-round pick got going from the jump, opening up his NFL preseason career with a 14-yard gain in the first quarter. White finished with 52 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards.
It was the type of performance McDaniels was hoping for White to have, coming off 11 rushing touchdowns his senior season in college.
"He did that in Georgia. He ran hard with the ball in his hands and is tough to tackle," McDaniels said. "He finishes runs the right way, brings a physical element to the game and the team. It was a good opportunity for him to get in there and do that at our level and play in the kicking game some. Like I said, there's going to be some things that we have to tweak and clean up, but I thought for him to get out there and establish – that's the style of runner he was at Georgia, and then to see him do it here was good."
While many were impressed with the stat line of the promising rookie, White said he is simply "blessed" to have the chance to suit up in the Silver and Black for the first time.
"I love ball; it's my life," he remarked postgame. "[I'm] blessed to be out there for this first game and grinding with these guys."
Another overall takeaway from the Raiders was a brand of smart, fundamental football on both sides of the ball. The offense committed zero turnovers, won the battle in penalty yards and held the Jaguars to only a field goal entering the fourth quarter. While McDaniels was satisfied with the way his team played, he's more excited to watch the tape to improve on what the team displayed Thursday night.
"I thought we played with some good tempo and rhythm in the first half," he said. "I thought we were trying to get in and out of the huddle, I thought we stayed ahead of the down and distance for the most part offensively. Thought we got off the field on third down, early in the game especially.
"Generally I really liked our attitude from the group. They were into it, they gave great effort. ... Again, plenty of things we did wrong that we'll be able to correct tomorrow on the film – but I like the way we approached the game."
View photos from the Raiders' Hall of Fame Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.