Two weeks ago, as Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett faced potential replacement during his first year on the job if his team had lost to the Jaguars in London, a fairly well-connected league insider asked why Hackett is getting so much criticism, while Raiders coach Josh McDaniels gets a pass?
The easy answer at the time was that Hackett got his job before current ownership arrived. In Las Vegas, owner Mark Davis hired McDaniels. The idea of Davis firing McDaniels during or immediately after his first season seems like a stretch. Even for someone as unpredictable as Davis can be.
Since then, the Raiders suffered a shutout in New Orleans. Last Sunday, they blew another big lead, this time in Jacksonville. The team that lost to Hackett and the Broncos in London a week earlier.
And now here the Raiders are. At home again. For the first time since a Week Seven win over the Texans.
That was supposed to be the start of a post-bye surge. They went 1-4 through five difficult games to start the season, beating only the Broncos. With the schedule softening, the Raiders were supposed to be toughening up.
Enter the Colts. Only days after an unprecedented degree of self-inflicted turmoil, they’re coming to town with an overmatched quarterback, an unqualified and inexperienced head coach, a play caller who was getting Frank Reich’s dry cleaning three years ago, and an overall sense of confusion and dysfunction.
If the Raiders can’t win this one, how can McDaniels survive?
It would still be highly unlikely for McDaniels to get the heave-ho during the season. But he could be in grave danger of getting fired after 2022 ends, if he loses on Sunday.
Then what? Given the affinity and affection Mark Davis has for Jon Gruden, could anyone rule out a return?
It sounds crazy. But not as crazy as Colts owner Jim Irsay firing Reich and hiring Jeff Saturday.
If Saturday and the Colts upend the Raiders on Sunday, crazy could be arriving on Monday in Las Vegas.