The Las Vegas Raiders became the first team in the NFL to fire their coach this season. Owner Mark Davis chose to part ways with head coach Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler, as well as offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi on Tuesday night.
The move came after the NFL trade deadline as well as a second straight loss for the Raiders on Monday Night to the Detroit Lions. The Raiders’ offense was once again lifeless, scoring just one touchdown and continuing their streak of failing to reach the 20-point mark this season.
While many fans had been calling for McDaniels to be fired, the timing was a bit surprising. Nonetheless, Davis opened up about his reasoning for the move, believing the team was simply headed in the wrong direction, according to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez:
“Unfortunately, I had great hopes for Josh and Dave,” Davis told ESPN on Wednesday. “It just seemed we were going in the wrong direction. So, with the trade deadline, I just felt it was time to make a change, time to make a move.”
The hope is that this change will provide a bit of a kickstart to the Raiders, and they can somehow salvage this season. Even though they are 3-5, the Raiders are not far from a playoff spot, but they will need a good run in the second half of the season if they plan on finding themselves in the postseason.
The man who will be leading the way is interim coach Antonio Pierce who was the team’s linebackers coach and a former player who won a Super Bowl as a member of the New York Giants. Davis admitted to being impressed with his approach in revealing why he was tabbed to take over:
Davis said he was “intrigued” enough by Pierce’s bio — including a nine-year NFL career at linebacker, one Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl title with the New York Giants — to have a sitdown with him.
“Seemed like a fresh approach,” Davis said. “Seemed like the adjustment we need at this time. I was impressed.”
This is definitely not a situation that the Raiders aren’t used to. Just two seasons ago, when the Raiders made the playoffs, they also underwent a coaching change in the middle of the season but ultimately rallied together to push into the postseason.
Pierce has an opportunity to prove he is capable of being an NFL head coach, and if he and his staff can figure out a way to open up the offense and pick up the intensity on defense, perhaps the Raiders can make another run.