The beginning of the Antonio Pierce era as the interim head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders is off to an incredible start. In his first game at the helm of the Raiders, they glided past the New York Giants with ease, winning 30-6 behind a strong rushing attack and a solid game from quarterback Aidan O’Connell.
Pierce, a former player, seems to already have a strong command of the locker room, and that is confirmed by one of the team’s biggest stars in All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams. Adams had a relatively quiet outing on Sunday — four catches for 34 yards — but he was all smiles after the team’s victory.
And that positive attitude was because he finally feels connected to his head coach and is excited about what the Raiders can look like under Pierce’s leadership, according to Paul Gutierrez of ESPN:
“We’ve got a new leader right now,” said All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, “and it’s somebody that we can get behind and somebody that played the game. So it makes it a lot easier for us to connect with him, because he understands the mind of a player and he’s done a really good job just making sure we understand that it’s not about him — it’s about this team. It’s about us figuring it out and getting behind him, obviously. And I feel like that’s what everybody did. That’s why it looked that way today.”
Pierce is the second Raiders interim head coach in the past few seasons to come in and have immediate success, largely due to the way he is able to connect with the players in the locker room. Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia had a similar impact when he took over.
The Raiders — now 4-5 — have a legitimate shot to compete for the postseason if they can turn things around from here. They have three difficult matchups, two against the Kansas City Chiefs and one against the Miami Dolphins, but they have a relatively winnable schedule outside of that.
That, plus the buy-in of the team’s biggest and brightest stars, could lead to the makings of an impressive mid-season turnaround behind Pierce.
Adams believed it was time for a change
While Adams remained respectful of the previous coaching staff and everything Josh McDaniels had done for him and for the team, he agreed with the organization’s decision that it was time for a change in an attempt to try and revitalize the roster.
“Don’t get it confused,” Adams cautioned. “It’s not a celebration that we have a new coach and there’s been changes made. We, obviously, think it was time, one way or the other, it was time for some sort of change. Just to bring a little juice in and revitalize the team a little bit. So, I think that’s kind of the mindset we’re having, just trying to have fun and enjoy our time in this building because I think as we speak to each other, it’s been too much of, this has just been feeling like work too much and not having enough fun.”