The Las Vegas Raiders witnessed a personality change inside the locker room the moment Antonio Pierce took over as head coach.
NFL insider Dianna Russini of The Athletic provided details of the switch in workplace mood for the now 5-5 Raiders, including one source sharing some strong words about the departure of the fired head coach Josh McDaniels.
Raiders Source Describes Impact of Having Josh McDaniels Gone
Not only did Russini describe the Raiders’ atmosphere as a happier work environment, but two sources shared some stirring words about the new state of the Silver and Black.
One source told Russini, “The players have taken this place over. Ownership is fine with it, too.”
But the stronger description came from another anonymous source who spoke to the league insider.
“It’s like ‘Ding dong, the witch is dead,’ since Josh McDaniels and (general manager) Dave Ziegler were shown the door,” the source detailed to Russini.
McDaniels and Ziegler were the “witch” type figures inside the Raiders’ facility.
What’s Been the Difference in Coaching Between McDaniels and Antonio Pierce?
McDaniels’ style was described as running a tight ship.
His approach involved higher expectations, higher standards, and a system where his ideas were at the forefront … but not the players. Multiple reports later surfaced that the Raiders felt a disconnect between McDaniels and the players.
Pierce went from linebackers coach to taking the full reins the last two weeks. But there have been no reported complaints about the way Pierce coaches. That’s because Pierce has been painted as a coach who listens and has the best interest of the players.
Russini even outlined one slight, yet impactful, change that involves Pierce being on the same page of his roster.
“Meetings have moved to earlier times to accommodate the assistants’ preferences, and players have more say on how they want to operate as an organization,” Russini began.
“For example, the team had planned to fly to Florida on Friday and practice Saturday in Orlando for their game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Instead, some team leaders spoke up because they preferred to practice in Las Vegas and then fly to Florida on Saturday. It’s a slight adjustment, but it’s what the players wanted.”
Big Test Awaits Pierce and the Raiders
Sunday not only presents Pierce with his first road trip as Raiders head coach but their upcoming matchup is anticipated to be their first big test together.
The 6-3 Miami Dolphins are hosting Vegas. And coming in tow is the Dolphins’ high-powered ground attack, equipped with misdirection runs that are taking the league by storm.
Pierce, known as a cerebral linebacker during his Super Bowl-winning career with the New York Giants, has likely preached eye discipline and finishing tackles during the week leading up to the Dolphins game.
Vegas, however, has witnessed improvement in taking on the run. In McDaniels’ final game as Raiders coach, Vegas surrendered 222 rushing yards to the Detroit Lions. But during the winning streak, Pierce’s units have done the following:
- The Raiders held NYG to 123 rushing yards and zero rushing scores. Pro Bowler Saquon Barkley was also held below 100 yards.
- Against the New York Jets, not a single Jets RB surpassed 30 yards. The lead rusher was quarterback Zach Wilson, with only 54 yards. And the Raiders didn’t allow a rushing score and limited the Jets to field goals.
Pierce has the Raiders going from allowing 10 rushing touchdowns with McDaniels to surrendering zero in the last nine quarters of play. If that success carries over to South Beach, the Raiders could position themselves for their biggest win of the season, further solidifying the culture Pierce is cultivating.