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There’s definitely a new vision in Las Vegas

Raiders coaching hires should open a lot of eyes

Syndication: Phoenix
Antonio Pierce is the latest addition to Josh McDaniels’ Las Vegas Raiders coaching staff. Slated to coach the linebackers under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, Pierce is an ex-NFL linebacker who can be an assertive voice on the defense.
Patrick Breen/The Republic

Antonio Pierce is the latest with only three more openings remaining. The Las Vegas Raiders coaching staff is taking shape and it’s crystal clear there’s a new vision in the desert. And, without question, the new slew of coaches will command the attention of the roster.

Pierce, whose tenure at Arizona State is mired in an alleged recruiting violation by the NCAA, leaps back into the NFL where he spent nine years as a hard-nosed linebacker for both the New York Giants and Washington Commanders.

Reportedly being groomed to potentially take over the Arizona State program from current and former NFL head coach Herm Edwards, Pierce is quite the catch for the Raiders.

His strong personality and outgoing nature made him a natural recruiting coordinator in the Sun Devils’ circuit, and his experience and knowledge as a pro linebacker translated well to his role as Arizona State defensive coordinator. While he shared the coordinator role with Marvin Lewis in 2020, Pierce was the lone defensive coordinator in 2021 and Arizona State sported the PAC-12’s best scoring defense yielding 20.8 points per game. Pierce is seen as one of the bright stars ascending through the collegiate ranks and now Vegas has a strong voice to pair with Graham’s in the defensive room.

The pair’s paths nearly converged when Graham joined the G-Men as defensive boss under then-head coach Joe Judge. Now, Pierce and Graham are together in Vegas.

Add Rob Ryan to that mix (hired as a senior defensive assistant) and that’s a commanding presence in the Raiders defensive meetings. Graham, Pierce and Ryan are no-BS-type of coaches.

Flip it over to the latest coaching additions to the offensive side of the ball and it’s no surprise to see McDaniels bringing over more influence from New England. Not only will the Patriots have to fill the void left by McDaniels, but also Mick Lombardi (who goes from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator in Vegas), Carmen Bricillo (who laterals as the offensive line boss) and Bo Hardegree (who goes from offensive assistant to quarterbacks coach). The Raiders offense will be a reflection of McDaniels and by bringing three former Patriots cohorts, Vegas’ new head coach not only gets familiar sounding boards to bounce ideas and concepts off of, but it also gives him additional voices in offensive meetings that reinforce his ideals.

Having assistant coaches who are not only familiar with your style but buy into it is an invaluable asset as a head coach. McDaniels is going to be the play-caller, but having Lombardi by his side as he game plans and schemes transfers the same synergy they built in New England to Vegas. Ditto for Bricillo and Hardegree. The offensive line coach is keen on the McDaniels offense and built and coached an offensive line that’s at the heart of said offense, and the quarterbacks coach knows what McDaniels’ wants out of his signal callers. The trio’s familiarity with McDaniels should foster a one-voice, one-direction type mantra for the Raiders going forward.

Patriots West, it is! At least that seems to be the direction — for now.

NFL: JAN 02 Jaguars at Patriots
Carmen Bricillo reunites with Josh McDaniels with the Las Vegas Raiders. Bricillo, who coached the New England Patriots offensive line, has the same gig with the Raiders and is very familiar with the offense McDaniels plans to install in the desert.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The final three spots to fill on the Raiders coaching staff are: Running backs coach, tight ends coach and defensive line coach.

Replacing the now-retired Rod Marinelli to captain the defensive line is arguably the most vital of those three vacancies. With how versatile and flexible Graham is as a defensive coordinator — he’ll deploy multiple fronts such as three-, four-, five and sometimes two-down linemen to combat an offense — it’s likely the new defensive line boss will need to be just as agile in his teachings and concepts to echo the Raiders new defensive boss’ methods.

On paper, McDaniels has acquired a quality coaching staff that should open plenty of eyes. The same can be said about the staff new Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler is assembling in his personnel office. He’s remaking the scouting group by adding new faces such as assistant general manager Champ Kelly while adding long-time NFL scout Andy Dengler to the college scouting crew. With the additions, the Raiders have let Trey Scott (assistant director of player personnel), Walter Juliff (senior advisor to the general manager), Dave Razzano (director of football research), Nolan Nawrocki (draft analyst), and several scouts reportedly go.