USA Today

The 2-6 Las Vegas Raiders are facing their worst start since a 1-7 beginning to the 2018 season with a second-time first-year head coach on a team that made the playoffs just last year.

But I still don't get the impression there's trouble brewing in Vegas just yet for Josh McDaniels as it relates to his employment under owner Mark Davis.

"Mark has to see the overall structure of the team is better," a source told CBS Sports recently. "Management from the coaching side is a lot better. Jon [Gruden] was frenetic and all over the place.

"There are new systems and everything is new. It's complex but they've tried to simplify things a lot."

On Sunday, the Raiders lost their third game this season after having led by at least 17 points. That simplified offense Las Vegas ran in the first half that was essentially "Get Davante Adams the Ball" got lost in the second half in the collapse against Jacksonville.

The Raiders have the talent to win, even if they could use more stellar play along the interior defensive line and corner. The offensive line has held up well enough. But each week seems to bring a Whac-A-Mole level of issues across the board.

The Raiders have locked up several veterans with good contracts including Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones. Derek Carr's re-worked contract made 2022 a prove-it year for him in Vegas, and he has a half season left to do just that.

McDaniels' offense is well known for its complexity, so it's no surprise that in an NFL where there's less offseason and practice time than ever before, things aren't moving swiftly for the Raiders.

But as other first-year head coaches like Kevin O'Connell and Brian Daboll win at a higher clip with their groups, Davis could be peeking over the hedges a bit. He didn't retain Rich Bisaccia after the Raiders clearly rallied around the interim coach last year.

"No owner wants to look stupid," the source said.

Teams having success off bye week

The bye week never comes at the wrong time if you ask any NFL team on their bye week. Well, it looks like it's come at a great time for most teams so far.

Off weeks began in Week 6, and so far 10 teams have had a bye and played the following week. Teams with a week off are 7-3 so far this season. And when you remove the Raiders-Texans Week 7 matchup where both teams were coming off a bye (since one was very likely to win and the other very likely to lose), teams are 6-2.

Good use of the off week so far across the league. The Browns, Broncos, Giants, Cowboys, 49ers and Steelers could use some of that good mojo heading into Week 10.

More insider notes from Week 9

  • Speaking of bye weeks, I'm not sure any team needed a bye week more than the Denver Broncos. For one week, the Broncos could stay out of the headlines. No quarterback controversy. No second-guessing the head coach's decisions. Just a smart, fair trade with the Miami Dolphins after a Week 8 win in London with all the focus on the Titans for next week.
  • Firing position coaches isn't rare in this league, especially at this point in the season. And it's definitely not unusual for an interim coach to let go of coaches now. But Carolina Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks did something Monday morning you rarely see. He relieved two position coaches of their duties in a week where the Panthers face the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Cornerbacks coach Evan Cooper and defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni are no longer with the team. It comes after a 42-21 shellacking in Cincinnati where the Bengals had their way with the Carolina defense. Wilks let go of defensive coordinator Phil Snow and special teams assistant Ed Foley when he took over as interim last month, and he continues to make changes to the coaching staff of the 2-7 Panthers.