The Las Vegas Raiders fired head coach Josh McDaniels on Halloween night, but McDaniels' reaction to a pre-practice meeting between players, coaches and himself five days earlier reportedly had players believing his time in Vegas was almost done.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the meeting took place hours before Thursday's practice. Players reportedly called it a "Kumbaya meeting," but it seems more brutal than that, with players and coaches taking turns "ripping" McDaniels for pretty much every aspect of his his coaching style. McDaniels reportedly didn't say much during the meeting as he listened to complaints about how he overcorrected problems on the field, constantly blamed players for issues with play-calling and held unnecessarily long meetings, among other problems.
At practice several hours later, McDaniels reportedly tried to apply some of the players' feedback, playing music and letting practice happen without comment. But according to Rapoport, McDaniels was "a shell of himself" after the team meeting. The contrast in his behavior was reportedly so "stark" that it apparently felt like McDaniels wasn't really there. Considering that, it's not surprising the Raiders' 26-14 loss to the Detroit Lions on Monday night sealed his fate. The entire organization was reportedly on board with his firing.
McDaniels still can't let go of the Patriots
Another detail about the meeting emerged Sunday morning from Fox Sports' Jay Glazer. He reported that Antonio Pierce, who was named interim head coach after McDaniels' firing, spoke on McDaniels' behalf during the meeting. Pierce reportedly brought up the 2007 New York Giants team (on which he was a linebacker) that beat the McDaniels' then-undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl that season, saying that the Giants had a plan and truly believed they could win no matter who they played. He said that attitude was not present on the Raiders, and they needed to build their own culture.
Later, after the meeting was over, McDaniels reportedly told Pierce to never speak about the Patriots like that again. After everything that was reportedly said at that meeting, all the feelings that were shared, and with his job in serious jeopardy, McDaniels was still concerned with how the Patriots were being discussed, even when a player who was on the 2007 Giants spoke about his team's accomplishment with pride.
Inside scoopage of what went on behind the scenes that led the @raiders to fire head coach John McDaniels then.move onto Antonio Pierce as their new coach. #raiders @nflonfox pic.twitter.com/aLcymL3Gcy
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) November 5, 2023
Rapoport reported on the meeting several days before McDaniels was fired, describing the tone of players as "passionate." These new reports add a lot more detail to that, since we now know that "passionate" was a more roundabout way of saying "very angry at McDaniels." The meeting was originally described as "cathartic," but now we know it was cathartic for the players and coaches and definitely not McDaniels.
The Raiders play their first game of the post-McDaniels era at 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday. They'll face the New York Giants in Antonio Pierce's debut as Raiders' interim head coach.