On the evening of Oct. 31, the Las Vegas Raiders fired its head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager David Zeigler.
“After much thought about what the Raiders need to move forward, I have decided to part ways with Josh and Dave. I want to thank them both for their hard work and wish them and their families nothing but the best,” Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement.
The Raiders named its linebackers coach Antonio Pierce to be the interim head coach and assistant general manager Champ Kelly to be interim general manager.
The Raiders also shook up the coaching staff on the offensive side by firing offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi and promoting quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree to interim offensive coordinator.
Pierce’s first move as head coach was to bench veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who the Raiders signed over the offseason for a three-year $72.5 million dollar contract, and start rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell.
“It will be Aidan going forward,” Pierce said in the introductory news conference on Nov. 1. “We just feel like it gives us the best chance.”
UNLV students expressed their thoughts on the Raiders hitting the reset button in the middle of the regular season.
“I think it’s a long time coming, I’m going to be honest. Josh Daniels was really just a joke as a coach [for the Raiders]and it really should have just been what happened last year,” UNLV undergraduate student Ryder Bosen said. “I think especially because [McDaniels’] time in Denver was terrible. As an assistant coach in New England, he was solid, but coming in as a head coach, we’ve already seen his past track record. He’s nothing special, and I don’t think there was ever a good reason to hire in the first place.”
As a head coach, McDaniels had a career record of 20-33. This includes his first stint in Denver from 2009-2010 where he went 11-17 and his most recent job with the Raiders where he won nine of his 27 games coached.
“I’m not honestly surprised,” UNLV undergraduate student Chidera Egw said. “Based on what I’ve seen, the Raiders have been going on a downhill slope for a while now, and it was only just a matter of time before they just got rid of everybody.”
Egw agreed with the firing of the coaching staff. However, he does not see how the interim staff can flip the season around.
“They have been switching coaches a lot in the past few years. To be honest, I’m not really sure how a linebackers coach can really help that much,” Egw said. “I don’t know how that’s gonna play out. Honestly, if you asked me I think it’s a dumb idea, but it’s because they didn’t have anybody else.”
Not having anyone else on the coaching staff was the cause for concern from UNLV undergraduate student Angel Estrada. “They should have probably [done] it one by one,” Estrada said.
With regard to the quarterback situation, the UNLV students agree that Garoppolo should not be the starter under center for the Raiders moving forward.
“Honestly, Garoppolo is not really that good. I thought he would be better,” Estrada said. “They changed the quarterbacks. I fully support that decision. Hopefully, there’ll be better.”
Bosen is not optimistic about either quarterback putting the Raiders in position to win games.
“I think the Raiders [benching Garoppolo is] a sign from the Raiders organizations where they’re just waving the white flag already,” Bosen said. “I just can’t imagine anything special from [O’Connell], but hey, maybe I could be wrong, hopefully,” Bosen said.
“Jimmy G. wasn’t really a star player. So you know him getting benched, like I said, it doesn’t really surprise me honestly,” Egw said.
Egw thinks that the Raiders can still use Garoppolo as a mentor for the rookie O’Connell.
“Jimmy G. does have experience. He could use that experience to help mentor O’Connell in certain situations,” Egw said.
The Raiders with Pierce calling the shots for rookie quarterback O’Connell will look to rejuvenate the silver and black on Nov. 5 where they play at home against the New York Giants at 1:25 p.m.