The Las Vegas Raiders have made a shocking decision to part ways with head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. Owner Mark Davis announced the decision on Tuesday night, catching fans and the football world off guard. This unexpected move comes less than two years after McDaniels and Ziegler were hired, leaving many wondering what led to their dismissal.
A Change of Heart
Davis expressed his gratitude towards McDaniels and Ziegler, thanking them for their hard work. However, it seems that the owner had a change of heart about the direction of the team. Despite defending McDaniels in the past, Davis felt that it was time for a fresh start. The recent performance of the Raiders’ offense, in particular, played a significant role in the decision.
Under McDaniels’ leadership, the Raiders’ offense failed to reach the 20-point mark in any of their first eight games. This drought was the longest by an NFL team to start a season since 2009. The statistics further highlighted the struggles of the offense, ranking last in rushing yards per game and 29th in points per game. The team’s third-down conversion rate was also abysmal, and they ranked 27th in yards per play. Clearly, the offense was in disarray.
The Raiders’ embarrassing losses under McDaniels’ watch also contributed to his downfall. Losing to a former D-II quarterback making his first start, a Colts team coached by a recent high school football coach, and a Rams team led by a quarterback who had just joined the team were all low points for the Raiders. These defeats raised questions about McDaniels’ ability to lead the team to success.
Interim Head Coach Antonio Pierce
With McDaniels out, the Raiders have named linebackers coach Antonio Pierce as their interim head coach. Pierce, who has limited NFL coaching experience, will now take charge of the team. Despite his lack of coaching tenure, Pierce’s nine-year career as an NFL player and his previous coaching roles at Arizona State University could offer a fresh perspective for the Raiders.
A History of Interim Coaches
Interestingly, Pierce becomes the third interim head coach during Mark Davis’ ownership of the Raiders. After the resignation of Jon Gruden in 2021, Rich Bisaccia stepped in as interim coach. Prior to that, Dennis Allen was fired in 2014, leading to Tony Sparano taking over on an interim basis. With the constant turnover of head coaches, the Raiders are hoping that Pierce can bring stability and success to the team.
McDaniels and Ziegler’s Tenure
When McDaniels and Ziegler were hired in January 2022, there were high hopes for the duo’s ability to transform the Raiders into a West Coast version of the New England Patriots. Ziegler, who had previously worked as a Patriots executive, made significant moves during his tenure, including giving quarterback Derek Carr a contract extension. However, despite these efforts, the team failed to live up to expectations.
Trade Deadline Timing
The decision to fire McDaniels and Ziegler came just hours after the NFL trade deadline. This timing raises questions about whether disagreements during trade discussions influenced the decision. The Raiders had notable players who could have been traded, such as Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams, but no deals materialized. The possible discord in trade negotiations may have played a role in the team’s decision to clean house.
With the firing of McDaniels and Ziegler, the Raiders are now at a crossroads. The team will rely on interim head coach Antonio Pierce and assistant GM Champ Kelly to guide them through the remainder of the season. It remains to be seen how the team will bounce back from this shake-up and whether they can find long-term stability and success.