For the last season-and-a-half, the Las Vegas Raiders have been mired in a strange malaise despite possessing ample talent on both sides of the football.
They went just 6-11 last season after blowing many leads and losing plenty of close games, and they lost five of their first eight games this season, resulting in many pointing the finger at Josh McDaniels.
The team responded by firing McDaniels as head coach last week and replacing him with Antonio Pierce, whose only NFL coaching experience has been as Las Vegas’ linebackers coach.
But the Raiders won their first game with Pierce in charge, blowing out the New York Giants, 30-6, and it led T.J. Houshmandzadeh to say on Fox Sports 1’s “Speak” that Pierce will still be their head coach next season.
.@housh84 on the Raiders with new interim head coach Antonio Pierce
“AP gonna be the head coach of the Raiders next year.” pic.twitter.com/VvrbCbGUWR
— Speak (@SpeakOnFS1) November 7, 2023
There has been speculation that the Raiders may try to court University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who had a successful stint as the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach about a decade ago.
But one thing that is apparent about Pierce is that he has a voice, he has influence, and his players are willing to follow him, which are perhaps the three most important qualities any type of leader needs.
Las Vegas also has a new starting quarterback in rookie Aidan O’Connell, who is replacing veteran Jimmy Garoppolo after Garoppolo got benched last week.
It may be too late for them to make a real run at a playoff spot, but they can at least build some positive momentum going into next season.