Las Vegas Raiders Head Coach Josh McDaniels was not lost for words describing how excited he is about what he and his staff are trying to build with the team.
McDaniels addressed the media at the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday. Since he last spoke at the Combine, the Silver and Black have made a few momentous trades and signings. While McDaniels and General Manager Dave Ziegler have brought in a few coaches and players of familiarity, they also consciously want to create their own flavor in Las Vegas.
"We're going to create our own culture and the culture is going to be determined by the players, the people in the building, the standard that Mr. Davis has set and the accountability that we all have to it," McDaniels said during his press conference. "So, we're excited to work on that. It's a process, but we got a lot of great people in the building, starting with the people that were there long before I got there. I'm really excited to join in that culture, and then try to further it as we go."
The Davante Adams trade
Adams is coming off an 11-touchdown, 1,553-receiving yard season with the Green Bay Packers, and is now reunited with his college quarterback and friend Derek Carr. The trade shocked the NFL landscape, however McDaniels believed it was a deal that was necessity to make.
"[H]opefully when you're making a decision that is of that magnitude, that you cross all the T's and dot all the I's, and with Davante – we just felt like this was the kind of a player that we would consider doing this for," said McDaniels. "He's certainly been a great football player and after having an opportunity to meet him and spend some time with him the other day, everything that we had heard, everything that we were told, all the different recommendations and all the different things that we heard about him as a person, those were true, too. So, feel really comfortable about the decision that we made and really good about the player and the person that we've added to our team."
In the time McDaniels has gotten to know his new receiver, he's been impressed with who he is not only as a player, but in his demeanor and attitude. He's hopeful Adams can continue to transcend the Raiders offense, given what he's already accomplished as a Packer.
"He's been a premier player for a long time, and I have a great deal of respect for him as a player and what he's been able to accomplish," McDaniels continued. "He's very versatile. He's aggressive, he's physical. He wins on third down, he wins in the red zone. He can handle himself against man coverage. He has great savvy and awareness against zone.
"He's a very well-rounded player and he deserves the credit as well as the people that have coached him in Green Bay. Certainly, they've done a great job with him and he's a really, really hard worker. ... He's very driven. He's mature, he's intelligent and he knows what it takes to work hard and be productive at his position in this league. We're really thankful to have him."
Signing Chandler Jones
Another attractive Raiders acquisition is All-Pro defensive end Chandler Jones. Jones has been a dominant force in the NFL for over a decade now, carving his name in the history books as one of the best pass rushers to play the game. Last season, Jones recorded 10.5 sacks, adding to the 71.5 sacks in total across his six seasons spent with the Arizona Cardinals.
But before he was Cardinal, he was a first-round draft pick by the New England Patriots. While in Foxborough, he won a Super Bowl, and now rejoins forces with a key coach from that run: new Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The decision to go after Jones was a no-brainer for McDaniels, who's known Chandler for a long time.
"Chandler is a really good guy, and he's obviously a great football player," McDaniels said about Jones. "He has an infectious personality. He practices like that. He comes to work with a smile on his face. He's an easy guy to like. I think that his teammates will embrace him quickly, I'm sure, and he'll reciprocate that with what he does for them in practice and hopefully, on the game field."
Despite not being around Jones since 2016, McDaniels has seen Jones continue to develop all of the traits and characteristics that made him successful in New England. While Jones is 32 years old, the head coach sees no signs of him declining as an elite player, and is fully aware of what great attributes he'll bring to the Raiders defense.
"Chandler is a really unique pass rusher. He's got this long, levered body that it's really hard to hit and he's got a lot of different pass rush moves," said McDaniels. "He's got a great feel for the different people that are protecting, and he's been able to play a lot of different spots across the front. He's rushed inside, he's rushed outside. He's rushed on the right and he's rushed on the left.
"He's a very slick guy in terms of using his frame. He's very long, he's got long arms and he's hard to get a big hit on, which I like because the more contact you get on some of those guys, the more physical toll it takes on their body. I know he's into his 30s, but I see Chandler as a guy that is still playing at a really high level and he's playing at that level on all three downs, which I love."
The current state of the offensive line
The Raiders offensive line is starting to shape up to look a lot like last season's, as McDaniels and Ziegler have taken priority in keeping key pieces. The team re-signed Brandon Parker, who started 13 games last season, and Jermaine Eluemunor who played 266 offensive snaps for the Raiders in 2021. McDaniels believes that the versatile offensive line group has "a lot of players there that are not at their ceiling yet" and with coaching up, can reach the next level as players.
"I know Jermaine from New England and he played some football last year here. And then obviously Parker has played a lot of football here," said McDaniels. "Guys that have a lot of snaps in games, have some flexibility from a position standpoint, which I think is really important. When you're putting that group together, you can't just put a bunch of one trick ponies together.
"So, Parker, can he swing? Yes. Jermaine has guard, tackle flexibility. You never know in this day and age, what you're going need, and you certainly can't go in there with a bunch of one position players. So, the versatility and flexibility that they offer you and that we're going to try to create in the offensive line room is important and those two guys are two good examples of that."
View photos of all the Raiders' free agency additions and re-signed players headed into the 2022 season.