Insider Pegs OC for NFL’s No. 1 Offense as Long-Term Josh McDaniels Replacement

mark davis

Getty Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis.

The Antonio Pierce era is off to a strong start for the Las Vegas Raiders and he’ll have a real chance to earn the full-time head coaching job after the season. However, the NFL requires teams to do a full coaching search when a head coach is let go so owner Mark Davis will have to look at his options.

One of the best options could have strong ties to the Raiders. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe pegged Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith as a potential candidate for the head coaching job.

“The next coach needs to establish trusting relationships with his players,” Howe wrote in a November 4 column. “That was lacking under McDaniels, and the players haven’t been overly shy about discussing it. Someone like Frank Smith, who has a natural ability to connect with players who seem to genuinely enjoy him, would be a welcomed change of pace in that locker room.”

Smith served as the Raiders’ tight ends coach under Jon Gruden from 2018 to 2020 where he helped transform Darren Waller from a practice squad player to a Pro Bowler. Since then, Smith has served as the run game coordinator and offensive line coach for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021 and the offensive coordinator for the Dolphins the last two seasons.

There Will Be a Lot of Interest in Frank Smith

Though Frank Smith doesn’t call the plays for the Dolphins, he’s helped lead the group to being No. 1 in the NFL in yards (435.3) and points (31.7) per game. Mike McDaniel didn’t call plays until he got the Miami head coaching job so the fact that Smith hasn’t called plays shouldn’t be used against him too much.

Smith is definitely a rising star among head coaching candidates and he’ll receive a lot of interest this offseason. The Raiders make sense for him due to his previous ties to the team and the fact that he’s been able to form good relationships with players. He also brings offensive expertise to a team that’s already loaded with offensive talent.

Mark Davis may be concerned about hiring another offensive coordinator as his head coach following the Josh McDaniels debacle but Smith comes from a completely different coaching tree and is much better with players.

What Does Antonio Pierce Need to Do to Keep Job?

What works in Antonio Pierce’s favor is that the Raiders recently had an interim coach in Rich Bisaccia who likely deserved to get the full-time head coaching job. Mark Davis instead decided to hire Josh McDaniels and that was a mistake.

Pierce is off to a good start but he didn’t have nearly the experience that Bisccia did. He’s only been coaching in the NFL for less than two seasons. However, he will have a chance at getting a full-time job if he’s able to keep the Raiders competitive.

Considering the team was 3-5 when he took over, getting Las Vegas to 9-8 or 10-7 would have to lead Davis to really consider him for the job going forward. A playoff berth wasn’t enough for Bisaccia to keep the job but that could be enough for Pierce now that Davis has the benefit of hindsight.