LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Josh McDaniels gives Bill Belichick lots of credit.
The coach of the Raiders has spent time as an assistant under Nick Saban, arguably the best coach in college football, and his father, Thom McDaniels, who in 1997 was selected USA Today High School Coach of the Year. And there’s Steve Spagnuolo, the Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator who mentored McDaniels in St. Louis, when Spagnuola was the team’s coach.
Lots of big-time influence. But none more than Belichick, who as New England Patriots coach has won six Super Bowls.
McDaniels’ Raiders and Belichick’s Patriots meet in the final exhibition game for both teams at 5 p.m. Friday in Allegiant Stadium. The teams participated in joint practices Tuesday and Wednesday, and the McDaniels-Belichick reunion makes for a curious subplot.
“I think how I’ve learned, what I’ve been taught over 22 years about how to try
to go about winning in this league is really all from him,” said McDaniels, who served as a Belichick assistant for 18 seasons, including 13 as the New England offensive coordinator. “I was 23, 24 years old, and he started to teach me then how to work, how to be a professional, how to try to do my job the best way I could each day and how to listen and get better.”
So much of what McDaniels knows and does, well … “All the philosophies about trying to win the game, like I said, I’ve learned more from him than I have from anybody else and that will never change at this point.”
But McDaniels is his own man, too. During the exhibition season he’s been talkative at news conferences. Not very informative, but talkative, more than cordial. Win or lose, Belichick often is terse with the media, almost defiant.
Just one noticeable difference, of course. And let’s see how McDaniels acts after a loss. His Raiders are 3-0 in the exhibition season.
“Who I am and who he is, we’re just different people, which we all are,” McDaniels said of himself and Belichick. “I saw my father for 20-some years coach, and I’ve seen Bill do the same thing, and I’ve worked for Nick Saban and none of us are the same person.”
McDaniels, who had a brief unsuccessful run as the Denver Broncos coach before returning to New England, said he feels more at peace in his second try, with the Raiders. He talked about being himself and having good relationships “with everybody in the building.”
Personality, relationships, building a culture; these are things McDaniels wants to claim as his own.
Much of the rest comes from Belichick, he said. “But how to win, how to run practice, some of those philosophies, I mean those are tried and true, so I try to stick with those as much as I can and be myself along the way.”
As for Belichick, he gushed about the Raiders’ facility in Henderson during the joint sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, and he praised the franchise and its founder, Al Davis.
As for McDaniels? It didn’t appear Belichick had much to say about his former assistant this week. But in March, he called McDaniels a “great coach” who couldn’t pass up the opportunity the Raiders offered.
“Other than against us, I hope he does well,” Belichick told patriotswire.com. “I’m sure he will do well. He’s an outstanding coach … He’ll be hard to replace.”