There’s been a world of change in Las Vegas Raiders these last few weeks, from a deflated and beaten team to a much-improved locker room and a head coach the fans can get behind, Mark Davis has shaken the landscape in Sin City and in my opinion, it’s for the better.
The silver and black were on track for yet another losing season under Josh Mcdaniels, the fans had given up on him and the players looked to have thrown the towel in. They had a record of 3-5 and star players like Devante Adams were getting increasingly wound up and looked ready to leave.
The Raiders fanbase got the best treat Davis could give them on Halloween, McDaniels was fired alongside General Manager Dave Ziegler. Boyhood Raiders fan Antonio Peirce was given the job on an interim basis and things started looking up straight away, Peirce looked ready to run through walls for his boyhood team.
Since Peirce has come in the Raiders are 2-0 under his reign and his team has seen themselves move back to 5-5 and up to second in the AFC West, behind the ever-dominant Kansas City Chiefs. Whilst they are still worlds behind the Chiefs, things are looking up and there are reasons for this.
The Las Vegas Raiders have beaten two teams who are struggling themselves, the New York Giants and their stadium-sharing side The New York Jets. This has seen a vast improvement in both the fans’ optimism and the players’ morale, after both games the players have been seen lighting victory cigars and have also positively conducted themselves with the media.
That’s just the basics of what has happened in Vegas since the 31st of October, there is more to it than just a new head coach coming in and changing the team’s fortunes.
Peirce, a Superbowl winner at underdogs New York Giants, knows what it’s like to be counted out numerous times but overcome adversity, something which this Raiders team need a lesson in. His constant positivity even at the worst times really falls into the ‘Just Win Baby’ way of life they have over in Vegas, finding ways to adapt and overcome is part of being a Raider and nobody knows that better than Peirce.
His lack of head coaching experience in the NFL had question marks surrounding it but I think we have seen in his first two weeks that he is at least adequate to coach a football team. He will need more wins to convince Davis to change his contract to a permanent one, but the Compton native is certainly on his way.
There has been a clear improvement in player performance since Peirce stepped in the door. Defensive Player of the Year candidate Maxx Crosby has somehow gone up another notch since the appointment of Peirce. Jimmy Garoppolo is also no more, the Quarterback that was acquired in the summer has been benched for Rookie fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell who Peirce came out and publicly said gives his team the best chance at winning football games.Embed from Getty Images
Whether this two-game winning streak will continue, who knows, they face two huge challenges in the coming weeks through the Miami Dolphins and fellow AFC West side Kansas City Chiefs. Nobody expects the Raiders to win these games if they do something serious is happening with Antonio Pierce at the helm.
When it all comes down to it and we look back at this NFL season, everybody will remember the huge changes made in Vegas and the commitment to excellence which they have prided themselves on for years.