The Las Vegas Raiders Have Fully Bought in to Coach Antonio Pierce

The Las Vegas Raiders are entering their first season under Coach Antonio Pierce. The players have bought into the new coaching staff.
Dec 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs (39) celebrates during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Nate Hobbs (39) celebrates during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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The Las Vegas Raiders enter this season expected to produce one of the best defenses in the National Football League.

This is unfamiliar territory for Las Vegas’ defense, which entered last season as the unit the Raiders needed to work on the most. After a solid second half of last season, the Raiders' defense is ready to prove its performance in last season's final nine games was not a fluke.

Part of the reason the Raiders' defense improved so much over the second half of last season was the promotion of Coach Antonio Pierce. The former linebacker was named the team’s interim head coach after the previous coaching regime could not connect with the players personally, amongst other reasons. 

Pierce, a Super Bowl-winning linebacker during his playing days, was able to get the most out of a limited roster, partially because he understood the players in a way that only a former player could. Pierce had a connection with nearly every player on the team, even before being promoted. It helped him earn the players' trust once he took over. 

The change Pierce helped usher in for the team was evident from the day he was named the interim head coach. Raiders players entered practice immediately after Pierce’s promotion and looked like a completely different team than the first eight weeks of the season, which was a testament to Pierce’s bond with the team. 

Raiders defensive back Nate Hobbs believes the team trusts in Pierce because he trusts in them. Hobbs said the players on the Raiders' roster have fully bought into Pierce and his goals for the team.

 "I think we're totally in,” Hobbs told reporters on Tuesday. “We trust AP [Antonio Pierce] because AP trusts us. As a player, that’s one of the biggest things you could you have from a coach is that trust, and that credibility, and belief. He believes in you, and that almost makes you more ready to go.

“I feel like that breeds ultimate buy-in and confidence. You got those two on the team along with the hard work aspect of it, sky's the limit. I don't know what year the Giants were in a Super Bowl, but they weren't supposed to be in the Super Bowl, but they had that type of team. AP was on that team, so I just put that together quick." 

As the Raiders enter their first entire season under Pierce, they will need to start this season the way they ended last season. However, for them to do so, it will take everyone on the team to be on the same page, which wasn’t always the case last season before Pierce took over.

The good news for the Raiders is they have a head coach with a unique connection with the players in the locker room. Las Vegas hopes it will help elevate the team to new heights.

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Ezekiel Trezevant

EZEKIEL TREZEVANT

Ezekiel is a former Sports Editor from the Western Herald and former Atlanta Falcons beat writer.