Vibes are high within the Las Vegas Raiders after the team parted ways with head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager David Ziegler recently. The Raiders are riding a two-game winning streak, and interim head coach Antonio Pierce seems to have quickly won over the locker room.
In an article for The Athletic, NFL insider Dianna Russini shared some quotes from Raiders sources that shed some light on the current vibes of the team.
“The players have taken this place over,” one Raiders source said. “Ownership is fine with it, too.”
Another one of Russini’s sources was a bit more blunt when describing the organizational shift that has transpired in recent weeks.
“It’s like, ‘Ding dong, the witch is dead,’ since Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler were shown the door,” the source said.
Russini explained that the “witch” symbolizes McDaniels’ “no-nonsense, often demanding style of coaching and presence in the building.”
McDaniels ran a tight ship, and that’s not to say that Pierce doesn’t, but the latter just appears to be more of a players’ coach, as they say.
He has nearly a decade of NFL playing experience under his belt, while McDaniels has none. Pierce also found some serious success during his days on the field, as he was named to the Pro Bowl in the 2006 season and helped the New York Giants win the Super Bowl in the 2007 season. That type of resume tends to resonate with players.
Pierce also appears to be more receptive to input from both his players and assistants than his predecessor was.
“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,” wrote Russini. “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.”
Small things like that can go a long way within a locker room, and the Raiders certainly seem to be benefitting from the midseason switch they made. They sit at 5-5 after two straight wins, and they’re in the playoff hunt in the AFC.
However, they have an extremely tough test looming in the form of the Dolphins, who lead the league in yards per game. The Dolphins enter the Sunday afternoon matchup with a 6-3 record, which leads the AFC East. They also have the NFL’s receiving yards leader on the season in Tyreek Hill. Slowing him down will be a primary task for the Las Vegas defense.
The contest between the Raiders and Dolphins will be Pierce’s biggest challenge as an NFL head coach so far, and it will be extremely interesting to see how both he and his squad respond.