Deion Sanders Sends Strong Message to New Raiders HC Antonio Pierce

deion sanders

Getty Colorado head coach Deion Sanders.

The Las Vegas Raiders were a sinking ship at 3-5 when they fired head coach Josh McDaniels and replaced him with linebackers coach Antonio Pierce. Instead of getting worse, the team improved and went 5-4 in their last nine games.

The players made it clear that they wanted Pierce to be the head coach going forward and owner Mark Davis listened. The team announced that Pierce was hired as head coach and many former players were thrilled with the news.

Among the most excited former players was Hall of Fame cornerback and Colorado head coach Deion Sanders. He sent a strong message to Pierce in a January 19 X post.

Similar to Sanders, Pierce was a former player who worked in television for a while before joining the coaching ranks. They may not dazzle with their amazing play calling but they’ve proven that they can motivate players to win games. Sanders was an unconventional hire when Colorado brought him on and though the team went 4-8 in his first season, they became one of the biggest stories in college football in 2023. Pierce could have a similar effect on the Raiders.

Marvin Lewis Joins Las Vegas Raiders Staff

Antonio Pierce has only been coaching at the NFL for two years so his lack of experience is a bit of a concern. However, he’s well aware of the fact that he’s inexperienced and is looking to surround himself with veterans of the profession.

One coach he’s bringing in is former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, per a January 19 X post from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

It’s unclear what exactly Lewis’ role will be but it’s safe to he’ll be involved with the defense at some level. Pierce brought him in during the season as an advisor and the Raiders had the best defense in the NFL from the time Pierce took over to the end of the season.

It appears the hope is that Patrick Graham will stay on as defensive coordinator if he doesn’t get hired as a head coach. If that doesn’t happen, Lewis could be in the mix to take on that role. He was the mind behind the Baltimore Ravens‘ Super Bowl-winning defense in 2000, which Bleacher Report ranked as the fourth-greatest defense in NFL history. Though Lewis hasn’t been a defensive playcaller in the NFL for a long time, he’s proven to be one of the best defensive minds in the business.

Can Las Vegas Raiders Defense Sustain Success?

The Raiders had the second-cheapest defense in the NFL last season, per Spotrac, but finished ninth in points allowed. It was arguably the best the defense has played in two decades. Antonio Pierce and Patrick Graham deserve a lot of credit for the turnaround but there’s still reason to be concerned.

The team doesn’t have a true No. 1 cornerback and there’s not much of a pass rush from the interior of the defensive line. If the Raiders can find a way to add a No. 1 cornerback and a pass rushing defensive tackle while keeping Graham on staff, this could be a top defense in the NFL again next season. The group is also quite young so the future is bright for the defense in Las Vegas.

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