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“No, Josh is a great coach. I’m sure he feels it’s a great opportunity; that’s why he took it. Apart from against us, I hope he does well. I’m sure “He’s going to do well. He’s a great coach. Some of the people who’s with him are also very good. It all worked out well. It’s an opportunity we could not provide.” New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick when asked if he had a problem with new Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels stealing any of his coaches and players.
HENDERSON, Nev. On the surface, it appears that Josh McDaniels simply looted the Patriots’ front office and coaching staff and brought a general manager (Dave Ziegler), offensive coordinator (Mick Lombardi), offensive line coach (Carmen Bricillo) with him to Las Vegas. and quarterbacks coach (Bo Hardegree).
But as expected, McDaniels also brought in a bunch of players he knew from New England.
And the effect – in real life and fantasy sports – will be most noticeable in the back room of the Raiders.
For while Las Vegas returns Josh Jacobs, who rushed to a career-low 872 yards in 2021 after writing a couple of 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his first two years, and Kenyan Drake, returning from a broken right ankle, the Raiders picked up a pair of ex-Patriots in Brandon Bolden and defender Jakob Johnson in addition to forming the Carolina Panthers running back Ameer Abdullah.
“It’s a position that’s hard to stay healthy, it’s just that,” McDaniels said at recent NFL owners’ meetings. “They touch the ball more than anyone else except the quarterback, and they get hit more than anyone else.”
McDaniels referred to two backs who were in the process of “retraining” at the moment.
“Having depth in that space is important, because if you do not have quality depth in the backcourt today in the NFL, many times you get to run into some problems and some injuries you know and then you get caught trying to make a quick transaction in the middle of the season, “McDaniels said.” So we have always tried to have as much depth in the space as we can.
“It’s a position where it’s very important to have good players, but it’s also really good to have a good depth that you can put in there and they can serve a lot of roles.”
Here, in Week 1 of Phase 1 of the Raiders ‘offseason training program, it’s safe to enroll Jacobs as the starting runner, even though he’s new to McDaniels’ system.
Even quarterback Derek Carr said at his press conference announcing his contract extension that the benefit of the attack would be felt most by the lead.
“Right now we’ve only had two days [classroom] work, “Carr said,” but the happiest person in the building should be Josh Jacobs. I know.”
The versatile Drake, meanwhile, rounded into form as he went down with 63 carries and 30 catches for a combined 545 yards and three touchdowns. He remains a wild card as he retrains and learns the offense.
Trey Ragas returns after spending most of last season on the training team (he had a ball in regular season at 9 yards and two catches at 6 yards).
Abdullah, a seven-year veteran, caught a total of 38 passes for 289 yards and a TD and rushed 51 times to 166 yards for the Panthers and Minnesota Vikings last season.
However, it was Bolden who made his name as a pass-catcher back in New England, catching 41 passes for 405 yards and two touchdowns last season, while rushing after 226 yards and a score of 44 carries.
Johnson? He is a rarely used back in McDaniels’ system, who nevertheless knows the system well.
“Look, the opportunities we had to add a few players that you know of never hurt,” McDaniels said.
Same with the coaching staff. Because as McDaniels said, the last time he was hired as head coach, by the Denver Broncos in 2009, he did not know nearly enough people to take with him.
“I had only been in the league for eight years, so I did not have as much experience and as many connections as I have at this point,” he said. “It’s a blessing that we have the opportunity to work together, some of us who have had those relationships. You just hit the ground a little faster when you have the opportunity, and those guys have done a great job. I I’m really happy with our staff, the way they work, their mindset, their attitude, their work ethic has been huge so far this spring.
“I give them a lot of credit for the time they spend at the facility. It’s tireless. Most of our families are not out there yet. We’re going from the end of a season and it’s work all day and all night now Really enjoy being with this group of guys. “