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Raiders hiring Pats’ McDaniels as coach, Ziegler as GM

Updated January 30, 2022 - 3:57 pm

The Raiders on Sunday turned the page on a season marred by tragedy and controversy, agreeing to hire a general manager and head coach from one of the NFL’s most successful franchises.

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will be named head coach. Dave Ziegler, the Patriots pro personnel director, will be the general manager.

The team announced Ziegler’s hiring Sunday and is expected to formally announce McDaniels as early as Monday.

After the forced resignation of coach Jon Gruden, the firing of general manager Mike Mayock and the release of wide receiver Henry Ruggs, who faces DUI charges following a Nov. 2 crash that left 23-year-old Tina Tintor dead, the Raiders are starting over with the team of Ziegler and McDaniels.

They have a relationship that dates back to their days as teammates on the John Carroll University football team. They have also worked together in Denver and New England.

Hiring the duo with a previous working relationship is designed to allow them to hit the ground running on the key decisions the Raiders face.

In doing so, the Raiders hope to mitigate some of the issues they experienced at the top of the draft and in free agency under Gruden and Mayock during their three years together.

McDaniels comes with some red flags after he failed in his first head coach go-around with the Denver Broncos from 2009 to 2010. Over the course of his stint with the Broncos, he went 11-17 and was fired 12 games into his second season. He also agreed to become the Indianapolis Colts coach in 2018, only to back out at the 11th hour.

The Raiders, though, believe McDaniels has grown from his experience in Denver and were apparently satisfied with his explanation of the reasons that led to his abrupt decision to back out of his commitment to the Colts.

His offensive acumen is highly respected across the NFL. But it will be the entire package — putting together a winning roster, overseeing a coaching staff and leading a 53-man roster to new heights — that will determine whether McDaniels succeeds or fails.

It was McDaniels who gave Ziegler his first NFL job in 2009 by bringing him into the Broncos personnel department. Ziegler spent three seasons in Denver before reuniting with McDaniels in New England, where he worked the last nine seasons.

By the end of his tenure with the Patriots, Ziegler had risen to the “de facto” general manager position as the right-hand man to Bill Belichick.

In fact, when Ziegler was a favorite to land the Broncos general manager job last year, Belichick convinced him to stay in New England with the reward of more say and responsibility. Ziegler was credited with overseeing the Patriots’ splashy 2021 draft and free agency period, both of which helped push them back to the playoffs this year.

That work caught the eye of the Raiders, who were eying a replacement for Mayock, who was left vulnerable once Gruden resigned last October and after a number of his draft picks didn’t work out.

Also a plus was Ziegler’s relationship with McDaniels, who emerged as the Raiders’ preferred target as their head coach search began unfolding. The 45-year-old McDaniels has spent 18 of the last 21 years with the Patriots, with the other three years as head coach of the Broncos and the offensive coordinator of the then St. Louis Rams.

McDaniels has been the offensive coordinator for most of his time in New England, and his time working with quarterback Tom Brady and overseeing one of the most diverse and creative attacks in the NFL left the Raiders enamored with him. They are counting on him to push quarterback Derek Carr and their offense to new heights.

McDaniels helped to guide the Patriots’ offense to eight top-10 rankings and six Super Bowl championships, including three with him as the team’s offensive coordinator.

The Raiders also interviewed interim coach Rich Bisaccia, Patriots linebacker coach Jerod Mayo and Buccaneers defensive coordinator for the head coaching job. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, the subject of much speculation about his interest in the job, was never interviewed for the job.

McDaniels will become the 22nd head coach in Raiders’ history.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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