- Pierce, a former Giants & Commanders linebacker, is undefeated in two games
- The Raiders were 3-5 when Davis fired ex-head coach Josh McDaniels on Oct. 31
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Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis has been impressed by the team’s energy under interim head coach Antonio Pierce ahead of Sunday’s away game against the Miami Dolphins.
Pierce, 45, took over from the recently fired Josh McDaniels, who was dismissed on Halloween (October 31), with the team (3-5) in real danger of missing the playoffs, at the time.
Pierce made his head coaching debut against the New York Giants, for whom he had previously played. The Raiders won the game 30-6 before defeating the Jets in Week 10, 16-12, to go 5-5 and second in the AFC West – a wild card spot.
Two years ago, the Raiders had a similar success story, reaching the postseason with Rich Bisaccia named as interim head coach after Jon Gruden’s resignation, and when the team started off the year with a 1-3 record.
But, Davis felt that McDaniels, who was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach of the New England Patriots, at the time, was the right man to carry his vision of an exciting brand of football forward following the end of the 2021 season.
Raiders owner Mark Davis before the Raiders play against the New York Jets on November 12
Interim head coach Antonio Pierce is 2-0 since taking over last month ahead of a visit to Miami
Unfortunately for both, things didn’t work out as planned. Davis has yet to specify what Pierce needs to do to be given the full-time job by the start of the 2024 season, but the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Davis has ‘noticed’ a real change in energy among players since making a staffing change, last month.
Pierce exudes a go-for-it attitude that had been missing before he took over, which is said to have pleased Davis.
‘In fact, Davis noted privately this week that last week’s prime-time win over the Jets felt like a real, true home game for the first time in a while, sources say,’ Rapoport wrote ahead of this weekend’s game against Miami. ‘That matters.’
The Raiders are back in playoff contention with a 5-5 record and are second of the AFC West
Players with whom Davis had spoken to before firing McDaniels – including Maxx Crosby, Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams – have praised Pierce’s management style and approach to games, and so has the head coach of the AFC-leading Dolphins ahead of Sunday’s game.
‘The thing that I always notice when it does occur, when you have a coaching change and then have immediate success followed by another game of success, is that the locker room feels some energy,’ said Miami’s head coach McDaniel.
‘It galvanizes people. It brings people together. No one likes to say bye to people that they know and work with. I don’t care what you say. Even if you’re going through hard times, it’s tough to say goodbye to people.’