Once Maxx Crosby threatened to demand a trade if Antonio Pierce didn’t return as the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach after a 5-4 interim stint, you knew team owner Mark Davis probably wasn’t going to turn to anyone else.
Welp. Whether that factored in heavily or not, the Raiders’ locker room and much of their fan base got their wish on Friday when it was reported that Pierce will no longer be the interim coach of the Silver and Black, but rather the full-time guy.
When players smoked victory cigars one week after the firing of the disgraceful Josh McDaniels, everyone knew the vibe in Vegas was different. But it was sort of hard to tell if everyone was elated that anyone but McDaniels was the new captain of the ship, or if Pierce was that beloved by the players. Turns out, it was a combination of both in the end that won him the job.
McDaniels was supposed to emulate the success he achieved in New England with Tom Brady as his quarterback. Interestingly enough, McDaniels’ successor in Sin City has been named on the anniversary of the game that sparked the Patriots’ two-decade dynasty.
What a way to snap this organization out of a funk that’s lingered basically since that day in 2002. Antonio Pierce is here to make history. This is the same man who was at the heart of a New York Giants defense that baffled McDaniels and beat the undefeated Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Amazing how Pierce brought this up in front of McDaniels, only for the latter to get all butthurt about it.
The Raiders are taking a page out of the Houston Texans’ DeMeco Ryans playbook to a degree. Hiring a former NFL linebacker who quickly ascended the coaching ranks, commands respect, is an excellent leader of men, and can obviously make a difference on game day as somebody. Pierce has been in the pressure cooker of professional football as a player. You can’t replicate that kind of tangible experience, which evidently purchased him some instant credibility among Las Vegas’ current roster.
Speaking of personnel, one key detail has yet to be ironed out (a new GM), which speaks to just how bullish the organization is on Pierce’s capabilities going forward.
The #Raiders still need to hire a GM who will work with Antonio Pierce, and that process has not yet been finalized. But a coach is now in place. https://t.co/al4Wm2F8lS
This story is beyond amazing. Pierce grew up as a diehard Raiders fan, had to grit his teeth and bear McDaniels’ stupidity for a short while, and then got his shot and made the most of it. Not to slander rookie mid-round quarterback Aidan O’Connell, but to post a winning record in nine games with him as the starter is an achievement in and of itself.
PS, Pierce and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham deserve a lot of credit for bolstering a much-maligned unit that was good enough to hold Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs to 14 points in a Christmas Day victory at Kansas City.
Since Antonio Pierce took over as interim head coach, the Raiders:
ELECTRIC. Congrats to Antonio Pierce. May you help the Raiders exorcise the demons of the past, not let the Chiefs roll to an AFC West crown every single year, and make this franchise the best it can be. The NFL is better off overall when the Raiders are rolling. I’m fairly confident Pierce will help them reach new heights.