Raiders Make Final Call on Antonio Pierce

antonio pierce mark davis


Antonio Pierce with Mark Davis.

After a brief head coaching search that only led to two interviews of external candidates, the Las Vegas Raiders have made their decision. According to a January 19 X post from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the team is finalizing a deal to hire Antonio Pierce as the full-time head coach.

Pierce was named interim head coach following the firing of Josh McDaniels. The players rallied behind him and he led the team to a 5-4 record to end the season. Under Pierce, the Raiders allowed the fewest points per game allowed (16.0), had the most defensive touchdowns (4) and committed the fewest penalties (31).

While the team was linked to big names like Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, it didn’t appear that any other candidates were seriously considered for the job. Multiple players came out and endorsed Pierce for the job. Cornerback Jack Jones went so far as to say the players would boycott while Maxx Crosby suggested he could request a trade.

That may have been unnecessary as owner Mark Davis appears to have come to the decision on his own on Pierce. The Raiders now won’t have to worry about a player uprising and they have to prove to the owner that he made the right decision.

Antonio Pierce Must Fill out Coaching Staff

Many fans and players will be excited about the news that Antonio Pierce is getting the head coaching job. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Pierce went through the 2023 season with a coaching staff that was built by Josh McDaniels.

Pierce now has to put together his own coaching staff. There will likely be some familiar faces retained, especially on defense, but there’s going to be an overhaul on offense. The only notable coach the team has lost so far is offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo, who was hired by the New York Giants.

The biggest name to watch is defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. He’s had two head coaching interviews with the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks. Losing him would be a big blow to the staff but Pierce has a defensive background and should be able to solve that side of the ball.

The most important hire this offseason will be the offensive coordinator. Pierce needs somebody who can own the offense and has skill at developing a young quarterback.

Was This the Right Move for Las Vegas Raiders?

Antonio Pierce showed some real promise in 2023 but there are still some reasons to have reservations. He’s only been coaching at the NFL level for two years and hasn’t called plays in the pros before. His only head coaching experience was at the college level.

That said, this was a move the Raiders had to make. Mark Davis already moved on from one beloved interim head coach when he passed over Rich Bisaccia. That likely forced his hand as many of the players from the Bisaccia team are still on the roster.

But Pierce does have real upside as a head coach. He’s an elite motivator and embodies everything the Raiders are about. The franchise has taken big swings before and has missed multiple times. Sometimes going with the safe pick is the right move. There is some level of risk with Pierce but at the very least, he’s going to get the players fired up to play.

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