Sad News For Las Vegas Raiders: He did not qualified in the game

Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

A new coach comes in, and as soon as he loses a few games, starts to make (typically subtle) suggestions that his biggest problems were inherited. In the newcomer’s mind, the predecessor is almost always to blame for the biggest shortcomings he’s facing.

It’s a perpetual, vicious cycle seen across the NFL, but perhaps nowhere as frequently as with the Raiders and their league-high 13 coaches over the last 20 years. Most of the coaches in that span have preached accountability, and then hypocritically tried to evade it on a personal level for as long as possible.

Give credit to current Las Vegas interim coach Antonio Pierce for breaking, or at least pausing, the tiresome trend over the second half of this season. The 45-year-old has more reason than most of the coaches that have come before him to lament the situation he was thrust into and cite it as the first example of what’s held him back.

But he’s refused to make any allusion to that, even after the Raiders were eliminated from playoff contention in a loss at the Indianapolis Colts last week that dropped them to a .500 record (4-4) under Pierce’s leadership.

“Everybody who is a straight shooter doesn’t really like the BS,” Raiders receiver Davante Adams said. “You don’t really want anybody who’s going to get in there and blow smoke or whatever it is. You call it how it is and you either love it or hate it…Keep it real about the situation we’re in. That’s who (Pierce) is, and it makes it easy to endorse that type of coach and that type of mindset.”

Adams, the Raiders’ most decorated player, spent most of the year unhappy and warning about how the team’s offensive inconsistency could ultimately sink the season. His premonition has ultimately been realized ahead of Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Denver Broncos scheduled for 1:25 p.m. at Allegiant Stadium but he holds no animosity towards Pierce for not better heeding his words.

That’s because Adams is smart enough to know that the anemic offense is not Pierce’s mess.

It’s difficult to totally separate the head coach from the product on the field especially in an instances like a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and a 20-13 defeat to the Miami Dolphins. The former was embarrassing as the lowest-scoring indoor game in NFL history and the latter felt like a what-could-have-been moment because of a puzzling lack of urgency to score points.

But the common denominator in all the losses has been a deficiency at the NFL’s most important position. The Raiders’ fate was all but sealed coming into the season by the way since-fired coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler completely bungled the quarterback situation.

Raiders players named to 2023 AFC Pro Bowl Games - Sactown Sports

Extending a veteran they were unsure about, former quarterback Derek Carr, before benching and releasing him less than a year later was bad enough but that only multiplied the impact of the mistakes that followed. Zeroing in on Jimmy Garoppolo as Carr’s replacement in free agency and stubbornly sticking with him despite a failed physical clinched that this season wasn’t going to be a pretty one on offense.

Rookie Aidan O’Connell has done the best he can since Garoppolo was benched and probably overperformed his fourth-round draft slot out of Purdue University in the process, but his flaws are evident. O’Connell looked overwhelmed in a Christmas Day win over the Chiefs where the Raiders didn’t complete a single pass outside of one early possession.

He finished the Colts’ game relatively strong by leaning on Adams, but his lack of mobility and poise was the biggest cause of the Raiders failing to convert on a series of third-downs from short yardage. Indianapolis took a double-digit lead early in the game during a stretch of four Raiders’ offensive possessions where they had more punts (four) than first downs (three).

 

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