The Raiders finally made a move for all the dogs. Raiders owner Mark Davis fired his general manager and head coach. A lot of folks did not expect him to make that sort of move this early in their contract. It will cost Davis a lot of money. However, he showed RaiderNation he is willing to do whatever it takes to win.
It makes a ton of sense given how the Raiders played the last two weeks. They lacked an identity. They lacked cohesion. They lacked creativity. Raiders alumni took the social media to expressed their displeasure. Many fans applauded the move after the Raiders did not play like their tradition.
Further, it came out that the players only meeting held last week was actually led by now interim head coach in Antonio Pierce. Pierce is saying all the right things in his few days as head coach. He grew up in Southern California and understands the Raider way of playing football. Have fun, swagger, and physicality. Impose yourself on both sides of the ball.
The guys already seem to be responding as their morale has lifted. We will see what happens today when Pierce takes on the Giants franchise he won a championship with in 2007.
Vegas’ coaching move also makes sense given how popular the Aces and Golden Knights are in Las Vegas. The Raiders play in the most popular sport and came over as an established brand. They also built the biggest arena. Yet, they have fallen in popularity to the Aces and Knights. The Aces and Knights have also won and both brought hardware to Sin City. The Raiders have not even won a playoff game in Vegas. Davis looked at that and realized he needed to make a change to establish himself in the growing sports market.
Hopefully, Davis sticks to the head coach and GM if they make a notable difference with the second half of the season. Technically, the Raiders are not out of it.
Nobody should expect a Super Bowl, given the talent on the roster. Nonetheless, they have enough to compete. The Chiefs look more beatable than years passed since they just lost to the Broncos. The AFC is wide open.
Now, Vegas takes on a New York Giant team that has been disappointing on their own. New York just traded away one of their best defensive lineman in Leonard Williams. The Giants still have some speed on the outside. Saquon Barkley is still one of the most explosive runners in the game. Vegas is going to need to tackle better in the last few weeks.
Against the Lions, the defense created three turnovers for the second time this season. They gave up a lot of yards, but they made enough plays to keep the team from getting blown out. If the Raiders offense shows up, there’s no reason they shouldn’t win this game.
The Raiders had three close wins, three blow out losses and two close loses. This is an opportunity for the Raiders to show who they are and who they want to be for the rest of the season. Already, the Raiders signed several linebackers after Pierce took over. That includes former Cowboys and Giants linebacker Jaylon Smith. Smith doesn’t have same coverage abilities as his Pro Bowl days but he should help the team with tackling and stopping the run.
Speaking of, it’s important they run the ball with Josh Jacobs, specially with the Giants down one of their better run defenders without Williams. Vegas also needs to get Devantae Adams the ball early and often. The Raiders are starting rookie quarterback Aiden O’Connell i hopes he can stretch the field better. O’Connell started earlier this year so the Giants will have a film on him. He’s not going to get away with forcing bars into a lot of tight windows. However, he needs to find Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Jakobi Myers when open.
I knew McDaniels was done being the head coach, when QB Jimmy Garoppolo looked lost and helpless on the final two drives against Detroit. Those last two series ended in consecutive sacks after Garoppolo already visibly missed Adams several times. A couple of those converted shots keep the Raiders in the game. Still, Jimmy G. came over to be a McDaniels guy and the head coach left his quarterback out there looking punch drunk. It was unacceptable.
Moving forward, the Raiders really need to rely on the run game. The offensive line has not been great outside of Kolton Miller’s consistency. They will get a challenge with Dexter Lawrence eating up blocks and pushing the pocket. However, Jacobs can provide a security blanket for his rookie quarterback.
Lastly, the defense needs to keep up the momentum. If they can continue to create turnovers, they give this team a chance. As a former linebacker coach, I do not expect Pierce to take great field position for granted. I’d also expect him to take a little bit more chances in scoring and fourth down opportunities, but I also do not think he will just make a gamble for the sake of a gamble. He is going to rely on his defense to pressure the quarterback, and come away with takeaways. That will create opportunities for the young QB.
Again, I’ve been saying it for years and weeks. The Raiders just need to play their brand of football and they should come away with a win in Vegas. The Silver and Black can get ahead of the chains with the run game and setup to take big shots deep. They can put the Giants offense on their heels. That will keep Saquan from merely moving the chains with the run. It will also force Giants QB Daniel Jones to take chance which the Raiders can convert to turnovers.
It’s time to get back to playing football the Raiders way. Run the ball, push the ball down field, get home to the QB and take the ball away. Vegas can win this game if they do that. And they will help Pierce make the case to keep his job.