The Las Vegas Raiders fired coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler late Tuesday night, the team announced. Here’s what you need to know:
- Linebackers coach Antonio Pierce will assume the role of interim head coach, per a team source.
- The Raiders are 3-5 this season and 9-16 since McDaniels took over in 2022.
- Las Vegas has failed to score more than 19 points on offense in a game this season.
- McDaniels was given a six-year contract by the Raiders in 2022, according to ESPN. Las Vegas is obligated to pay the four-plus years remaining on the deal.
- The Raiders also announced they are promoting assistant general manager Champ Kelly to interim general manager. The team said it is “committed to undergo a comprehensive search for a general manager once the season is complete.”
BREAKING: The Raiders have fired head coach Josh McDaniels.
He was 9-16 in one and a half seasons in Las Vegas, failing to make the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/YYE9n5kDdq
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) November 1, 2023
The Raiders had to do something
Raiders owner Mark Davis wanted to be patient. Just over two years removed from former coach Jon Gruden’s resignation in October 2021, he didn’t want to have to start all over again. But, through, 25 games, there just wasn’t any sign of progress for Davis to point to with the regime of Ziegler and McDaniels.
After a miserable 6-11 campaign in year one, the team looked even worse in their 3-5 start this season. Their latest loss — a resounding defeat at the hands of the Lions on “Monday Night Football” — was much more lopsided than the 26-14 final score would indicate. — Tashan Reed, Raiders writer
Why the decision was made now
While the outcome itself isn’t surprising — Davis making changes would be expected if the results didn’t change — the timing is. The Raiders are just eight games into the season, after all, and Ziegler and McDaniels were both still actively working with the franchise running through the NFL trade deadline at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Davis had surely already been thinking about the decision, but actually making it was a sudden move that developed as Tuesday evening progressed.
By making this decision going into Week 9, Davis is giving himself plenty of time to assess the situation, think long and hard about the GM and coach candidates he wants to consider and move forward once the season is over. — Reed
Where does Las Vegas go from here?
This is obviously a move Davis made with the future in mind, but it still has to be considered how the Raiders move forward from a football perspective. In doing so, it’s hard not to think about what they dealt with when Gruden resigned in 2021. They were 3-2 at the time and then-general manager Mike Mayock remained in place, so it’s not an exact comparison, but it remained a change that left them having to pick the pieces up with most of the regular season still in front of them. They went on to rally around interim coach Rich Bisaccia, finished 10-7 and made the playoffs.
This time, the Raiders are turning to linebackers coach Antonio Pierce to take over as interim head coach. He arguably faces tougher sledding. These Raiders are just 3-5, their roster is worse and Pierce is a far less experienced coach than Bisaccia was. The defense has been fiesty, but the offense looks broken, and fixing that isn’t something that’s within Pierce’s specialty. Pierce is well respected throughout the locker room, however, and will be able to lean on key players who were around for that 2021 run such as edge rusher Maxx Crosby, running back Josh Jacobs, left tackle Kolton Miller, receiver Hunter Renfrow, kicker Daniel Carlson and punter AJ Cole in addition to vocal newcomers like receiver Davante Adams to help hold the team together moving forward. — Reed
Kelly’s new role
The Raiders interviewed Kelly for their GM job before ultimately giving Ziegler the role last year. They still brought Kelly on as assistant GM and he’s played a significant role in their pro and college scouting efforts and personnel decisions since then. He’s been interviewed for several GM jobs over the years and now gets another chance to prove himself worthy of a full-time job. — Reed
What the team said
“After much thought about what the Raiders need to move forward, I have decided to part ways with Josh and Dave,” Davis said in a team statement. “I want to thank them both for their hard work and wish them and their families nothing but the best.”
Las Vegas marked McDaniels’ second coaching stop, as he led the Denver Broncos from 2009 to 2010. That tenure also ended midway through the second season, and McDaniels was fired by Denver with an 11-17 record.
McDaniels is the first NFL coach to be fired this season. Last year, the first firing came after Week 5, when the Panthers ousted Matt Rhule following a 1-4 start.
(Photo: Mike Mulholland / Getty Images)