With head coach Antonio Pierce and general manager Tom Telesco in place, expect the Las Vegas Raiders to begin filling out (or thinning out) the coaching staff the next few days and weeks.
Now that the top two positions in the Silver & Black are good to go, the big task of landing a new offensive coordinator is likely the next domino to fall. Yet there’s one anticipated move on the horizon too: Pierce’s mentor and former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis joining the coaching staff.
Lewis and Pierce are no strangers to one another. They’ve had the player-coach relationship with the then-Washington Redskins as Lewis served as defensive coordinator and Pierce was a linebacker back in 2002. The two then served as peers under head coach Herm Edwards at Arizona State for three seasons before Pierce landed with the Raiders as linebackers coach in 2022.
As Antonio Pierce hires staff in Las Vegas, one name expected to be there is former #Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 19, 2024
Pierce brought in Lewis -- who coached him in Washington -- to help him after getting the interim job. Now Lewis is expected to be on staff in a more formal capacity.
So, it’s no surprise when Josh McDaniels was dismissed as the Raiders head coach on Nov. 1 and Pierce ascended to then interim lead role for the final nine games of the 2023 season, the new face of the place and Lewis reunited. The renowned defensive mind lent his expertise to the rookie interim head coach as did Pierce’s mentor Tom Coughlin, the hardnosed former New York Giants head coach who helmed a Super Bowl winner with Pierce as a defensive leader at linebacker. Adam Gase also provided assistance — to interim offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree — and it was that veteran trio that provided the eager-to-listen and learn Pierce advice.
Those trio of coaches were in Las Vegas in early December as Pierce picked their brains on a bevy of things such as scheduling, scheme, technique, and officiating.
Thus the reports of Coughlin assisting Pierce in the search for coaches to join the Raiders staff only make sense.
Having the well-regarded Lewis on staff would be a boon for Pierce. By appearances, it’s a matter of when, not if. And the 65-year-old coaching veteran provides a solid sounding board for the 45-year-old Pierce. Lewis is keen on what it takes to be an NFL head coach after a 16-year stint with the Bengals were he compiled a 131-122 record in the regular season and a 7-7 mark in the playoffs.
Next steps for the #Raiders: Hire a GM and build out Pierce’s coaching staff. Tom Coughlin, who consulted for Pierce during the season, will be among those helping him identify and hire assistants. https://t.co/PlBqy049b9— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 19, 2024
Lewis can provide the real-time feedback to Pierce and that’ll be invaluable as the new Raiders head coach navigates a 2024 season in the AFC West that has amplified attention now that Jim Harbaugh returns to the NFL scene to helm the Los Angeles Chargers. Considered a sound offensive mind, leader, and team builder, Harbaugh’s arrival provides electricity to the underachieving Bolts and getting advice and direction from a trusted mentor in Lewis will help Pierce and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham (who is expected to return to the Raiders fold, there’s nothing out there that says otherwise) combat not only the recharged squad in L.A. but the rest of Las Vegas’ opponents.
Lewis was a successful defense coordinator before hired by the Bengals to run the show. He was tabbed to run the Baltimore Ravens defense in 1996 and spent six seasons doing so. Lewis’ signature season was in 2000 when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. His his defense ranked first in least points allowed and second in least yards given up. Loaded with talent, Lewis got the most out his crew in Baltimore before a one-year stint in Washington in 2002. That following season, he embarked his journey as the Bengals boss. And coincidentally, Lewis was 45 when he got his first head coach spot — the same age Pierce is now as Raiders head honcho.
Author Tanner Colby penned: “You are the sum total of the people you meet and interact with in the world. Whether it’s your family, peers, or co-workers, the opportunities you have and the things that you learn all come through doors that other people open for you.”
Pierce is the sum of the coaching he’s received from Lewis and Coughlin. And he continues to tap into and learn from those two and others. Who knows what holds the Pierce era for the Raiders — whether he succeeds or fails. But if he flops, it won’t be for a lack of trying.
Former Giants’ HC Tom Coughlin on the Raiders hiring Antonio Pierce: “I could not be prouder of Antonio Pierce being named head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I’m excited for him, his family, and the franchise. This is the team he grew up watching, and his belief in himself and…— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 20, 2024