The Las Vegas Raiders are sticking with their interim head coach this time around. On Friday, CBS Sports NFL Lead Insider Jonathan Jones reported that the Raiders are zeroing in on officially announcing the hire of Antonio Pierce as their full-time head coach.
Pierce grew up in Compton rooting for the Raiders. Now, he’s leading the franchise into the future. Pierce interviewed with other teams for their head-coaching vacancies such as the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans, but ultimately, he’s sticking around in Vegas.
The Raiders’ former linebackers coach took over for the fired Josh McDaniels in Week 9, and went 5-4 as Vegas’ lead man. Pierce registered plenty of highlights during his short time as interim head coach, including winning his first two games, a historic 63-21 defeat of the rival Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15 and a 20-14 upset victory over the Chiefs in Kansas City on Christmas Day.
Under McDaniels in 2023, the Raiders registered zero double-digit victories. With Pierce at the helm, Vegas recorded three double-digit wins in nine games. Pierce sparked the Raiders defense, which held the top-ranked offense of the Miami Dolphins out of the end zone completely in the second half of a seven-point loss, and recorded multiple defensive touchdowns in back-to-back wins over the Chargers and Chiefs. They were the first team to accomplish this since the 2012 New England Patriots. The Raiders allowed an average of 16 points per game under Pierce, which led the league from Weeks 9-18.
“I want to be a Raider … but if we go in a different direction, there is nothing that is off the table,” Crosby recently said on his podcast, via The Athletic.
Pierce was an undrafted linebacker out of Arizona in 2001 that played for Washington and the New York Giants. He was the captain of a Super Bowl-winning defense, and made the Pro Bowl in 2006. After retiring in 2010, Pierce began his coaching career in 2014 at Long Beach Poly high school. He also served as a linebackers coach, associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Arizona State for four seasons before being hired by the Raiders to take over as their linebackers coach prior to the 2022 season.