Davante Adams is back, with the receiver finishing with 86 yards on six receptions in the Raiders win over the Jets on Sunday Night Football. No Raiders player is benefitting more from Josh McDaniels being fired than Adams, and he’s quickly re-asserting himself as an elite player.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Adams’ rebound is how simple this was. Take interim head coach Antonio Pierce, who distilled the turnaround with ease when asked about his plan to feed Adams early, and often.
“When you have one of the best receivers in the league, I’m not stupid.”
No, Pierce isn’t stupid — but Josh McDaniels sure was. From week to week the Raiders offense under McDaniels decided to feature the receiver in one game, then forget he existed the next, seemingly with no reason behind it.
In Weeks 3 and 4 the receiver was a focal point, being targeted 33 times and giving the team 248 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Then McDaniel pulled the plug on feeding Adams over the two following weeks, where he was targeted a total of nine times — struggling as a result.
There was never any consistency to the McDaniels’ game plan. One week he’s get the ball to Adams as much as humanly possible, then ignore him the next. The core issue this created on the Raiders was a lack of schematic reliability. It’s one thing to change up your play calling to throw off opposition preparation, but that can’t happen from an unstable base. McDaniels never got Las Vegas to a place where they could afford to change things up at the drop of a hat, and Adams suffered as a result.
Pierce gets it. The interim coach has brought consistency to the offense despite Jimmy Garoppolo being on the shelf with injury and needing to turn to a rookie quarterback. In the past two weeks the Raiders have a run/pass balance of 66/52, putting faith in Josh Jacobs to carry the load on the ground to make the passing game easier for Aidan O’Connell. This is a stark contrast from the team under McDaniels, who passed 262 times and only ran the ball 178 times this season.
Pierce has also recognized that Jakobi Meyers was getting far too many targets without result, and shifted his focus in the passing game over to Michael Mayer, trying to get the rookie tight end involved in the offense more. It’s a move that understands where the Raiders are right now, and pushes them towards building for the future.
It all begins and ends with Adams though, who is finding his footing once more and proving he’s an elite receiver in the NFL. Getting 86 yards might seem like little in isolation, but it’s significant against the Jets — the most difficult team to pass against in the NFL.
It’s early in his tenure, but Antonio Pierce looks like the real deal, and Adams is back to being brilliant.