TOM further adds that Pierce’s initial task as head coach will be to address the offensive side, as most of the current coaching staff, including interim offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree, will not be retained.
Pierce’s appointment comes after he led the Raiders to a 5-4 record in the 2023 season as the interim coach, following the dismissal of Josh McDaniels.
Two years ago, team owner Mark Davis chose to hire McDaniels instead of then-interim coach Rich Bisaccia, who had rallied the team and led them to a playoff spot. This time, Davis has decided to promote his interim coach to the permanent leader of the Raiders. As a result, Pierce becomes only the third interim head coach in the past decade to become the team’s full-time coach the following year, joining Mike Mularkey of the Tennessee Titans and Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Pierce was also considered by the Titans and Atlanta Falcons for their vacant head coaching positions, but it seemed inevitable that he would stay in Las Vegas.
Embodying the Raider way and the Silver and Black spirit, Pierce quickly won over the locker room this past season. He led them to memorable victories, such as a win over the New York Giants in his debut, a 63-21 rout of the Los Angeles Chargers, and a streak-ending victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 45-year-old assumed his interim role with limited NFL coaching experience. Before coaching the Raiders for the final nine games of the recent season, Pierce was in his second season with the team as its linebackers coach. Before that, Pierce was a defensive assistant and coordinator at Arizona State, following his tenure as head coach of Long Beach Poly High in California.
A nine-season NFL linebacker with Washington and the New York Giants from 2001-2009, Pierce was a tough player who earned a Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl victory.
In his brief time with the Raiders, he proved to be the complete opposite of McDaniels, bringing energy, volume, and swagger to the team.
Players like Davante Adams and Maxx Crosby have expressed their support for Pierce. This should make for a smoother start for Pierce, but he still has a lot of work ahead.
The top priority will be a decision at quarterback. Before the 2023 season, the Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo, who had a history with McDaniels. Garoppolo has a $28.5 million cap number in 2024 with $11.25 million guaranteed. Pierce chose rookie Aidan O’Connell as his starter, and while the first-year QB showed promise, he isn’t necessarily the clear favorite to build the offense around.
Running back Josh Jacobs, who was sidelined at the end of the season with a quad injury, is also set to become a free agent.
Las Vegas has made it to the playoffs only twice in the past 21 seasons and hasn’t won a division title or a playoff game since 2002.
Pierce revitalized the fanbase and the Raiders players during his interim tenure.
Now, having earned the full-time job, he will aim to restore the franchise to its former glory, when the Raiders were a dominant and consistently winning force.