Las Vegas Raiders Make Antonio Pierce Full-Time Coach, Embracing Players-First Mentality

HENDERSON, Nev. – The Las Vegas Raiders have officially named Antonio Pierce as their full-time coach, removing the interim tag from his title. Pierce, previously the linebackers coach, took over the role after Josh McDaniels was fired on Halloween night. The decision comes after Pierce’s successful stint, where he revitalized the team and led them to a 5-4 finish to end the season.

Pierce’s impact on the Raiders’ culture and locker room was evident, as he introduced post-victory cigar celebrations and embraced the team’s traditions. His player-first mentality stems from his experience as a linebacker in the NFL, playing for the Washington Commanders and the New York Giants. He also played a pivotal role in the Giants’ victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Despite missing the playoffs with an 8-9 record, the Raiders’ decision to hire Pierce reflects a departure from their previous pursuit of “rock star” coaches. Pierce’s understanding of the Raiders’ mystique and heritage, coupled with his success in changing the culture and winning games, made him a favorable choice for owner Mark Davis. Davis has hired six other coaches since taking over the franchise in 2011.

Pierce’s hiring was also influenced by the overwhelming support he received from Raiders players. All-Pro players Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, and Maxx Crosby openly expressed their desire for Pierce to retain the coaching position. While the players’ input may not have been the sole determining factor, their endorsements played a significant role in the decision-making process.

The hiring of Pierce raises questions about the upcoming decision for the Raiders’ general manager position. It remains to be seen whether the coach will have a say in the hiring process, as Pierce was brought on board before a GM was chosen. The interim GM, Champ Kelly, is also being considered for the permanent role.

Another point of interest is Pierce’s bond with rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell. However, this does not necessarily indicate that O’Connell will be the starting quarterback for the Raiders in 2024. The team is still in search of a franchise quarterback, and their future plans at the position remain uncertain.

While Pierce’s hiring has generated excitement within the Raiders organization, the league’s reaction has been mixed. Some sources believed the Raiders had interest in Jim Harbaugh, but it is unclear what level of interest Harbaugh had in the job. Additionally, there are questions about Pierce’s long-term contract and the appointment of an offensive coordinator. The Raiders must also address the general manager position in the near future.

Looking ahead to the draft, it is unlikely that the top quarterback prospects will be available for the Raiders’ 13th overall pick. However, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy presents an interesting option if the team decides to draft a quarterback. McCarthy’s dual-threat abilities and readiness to play right away could make him a suitable fit for the Raiders’ offense.

Overall, the hiring of Antonio Pierce as the Raiders’ full-time coach is graded positively. Pierce’s leadership qualities and success as interim coach earned him the position, and his impact on the team’s performance was notable. It will be crucial for Pierce to assemble an experienced coaching staff to ensure continued success for the team.