The Las Vegas Raiders recently hired Josh McDaniels as their new head coach, and the team is hoping he can bring the same type of success he did when he was an offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. One person excited about the move is Darren Waller, who has become one of the top tight ends in the league. In an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, Waller talked about working with McDaniels during the team's offseason workouts.
"I really like Josh a lot," Waller exclusively told PopCulture. "One thing he's doing, he's challenging us and he's setting a certain standard. And for me, I was a kid who had all As in class when I was little, but if I wasn't being challenged, my mind would just go to a million different places. But in this offense, I feel like I'm being challenged and that's what gets me excited more than anything in life, is just having a positive challenge, something to work at, something to work towards. And I feel like that's what this new system is and I feel like a lot of guys are buying in and I feel like it should turn into what people expect it to be, a very high-level offensive product."
McDaniels began his career with the Patriots in 2001 as a personnel assistant. He climbed his way up the ladder over the years and became the offensive coordinator in 2006. In 2009, McDaniels became the head coach of the Denver Broncos and was there for two seasons before joining the St. Louis Rams (now Los Angeles Rams) to be the team's offensive coordinator. He return to New England in 2012 and would stay with the team for another 11 seasons. McDaniels has been part of all the team's six Super Bowl wins since 2001.
Waller, who has had two 1,100-yard seasons in the last three years, revealed the biggest difference between the offense they ran under former head coach Jon Gruden and what McDaniels runs. "Before, I know we would get up to the line and we'd have a certain plan and we'd run plays, but it wasn't necessarily more so challenging with a lot of different routes and different positions," Waller said.
"We had our suite, our things that we ran. Certain guys ran well, we were running those things. Formations would be different a little bit of the time, but it was a lot of men against the line and picking certain plays as opposed to, 'All right. We're going to enhance our focus on getting this guy involved in many new, different ways as time goes along.' So I guess I say there's more diversity as far as specific person game planning, whereas before we had plays that we ran and there were really good plays and it was just like, "All right, wherever you fit in the play's where you fit," so I guess the individualized part of it, per se."