HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — When the Las Vegas Raiders hired Josh McDaniels in January 2022, he said he had learned from his first stint as an NFL head coach.
But McDaniels’ record actually was worse the second time around than it was with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and 2010, and late Tuesday night, the Raiders announced that owner Mark Davis fired McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler.
McDaniels became the first non-interim coach in the Super Bowl era to be fired by two franchises before the end of his second season.
“After much thought about what the Raiders need to move forward, I have decided to part ways with Josh and Dave,” Davis said in a statement. “I want to thank them both for their hard work and wish them and their families nothing but the best.”
The Raiders announced linebackers coach Antonio Pierce will take over as the interim coach. His first game will be Sunday at home against the Giants. He played for New York from 2005-09.
Las Vegas also announced assistant general manager Champ Kelly will be the interim GM.
The team will conduct searches for replacements for McDaniels and Ziegler after the season.
McDaniels was the Raiders’ play caller, so offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi might take over those duties.
Davis had hoped to bring the New England’s success westward when he hired McDaniels, the longtime Patriots offensive coordinator. Ziegler worked in New England’s front office, and between the former teammates at John Carroll University, they transformed the Raiders into Patriots West by signing several players with ties to that organization.
But despite taking over a team that made the playoffs in 2021 before losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild-card round, the success Davis so badly wanted never made its way to Las Vegas.
The Raiders under McDaniels went 6-11 in 2022 and are 3-5 so far this season for a .360 winning percentage. His record at Denver was 11-17 (.393 percentage).
Even so, Davis has stood by McDaniels, and the timing of this dismissal is surprising. McDaniels met with the media early Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled for another news conference Wednesday morning to discuss facing the Giants.
But McDaniels had some things working against him. The Raiders have failed to score at least 20 points in eight of their past nine games dating to last season, and offense is his specialty. The one game Las Vegas reached that figure came because of a fourth-quarter safety in a 21-17 victory over the Patriots on Oct. 15.
Perhaps just as damaging was the public displeasure some of his players have shown. Star wide receiver Davante Adams, in particular, has been vocal since the offseason about his concerns regarding the direction of the franchise. Running back Josh Jacobs when asked after Monday night’s loss to the Detroit Lions about what might spark the offense, said, “I don’t know, that ain’t my job.”
McDaniels was hired following the 2021 season when Davis opted not to keep interim coach Rich Bisaccia on for the full-time job even after he led the team to a surprising playoff run.
McDaniels and Ziegler were aggressive in their first offseason, trading first and second-round picks for Adams, giving a big free agent contract to defensive end Chandler Jones and extending the contracts of Derek Carr, Maxx Crosby, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow.
But those moves didn’t lead to positive results on the field as McDaniels never was able to build the high-powered offense Davis expected when he hired him and struggled to win games.
The Raiders lost a record-tying five games after taking double-digit leads, including blowing a 20-0 halftime lead in his home debut against Arizona for the biggest collapse in franchise history. Las Vegas lost to Indianapolis in the Colts’ first game with Jeff Saturday as interim coach after he had never coached above high school level and then lost to Baker Mayfield and the Rams two days after Mayfield joined his new team.
McDaniels benched Carr late last season and eventually cut him in the offseason, giving the Raiders no return for a starting quarterback who ended up getting a $150 million contract from New Orleans.
McDaniels brought in his former pupil in New England, Jimmy Garoppolo, as the new starting quarterback and the offense severely regressed, becoming the first team since 2009 to score less than 20 points on offense in each of the first eight games of the season.
The last two weeks were particularly humbling as Las Vegas lost 30-12 to Chicago and undrafted rookie former Division II quarterback Tyson Bagent and then looked completely inept in a 26-14 loss at Detroit on Monday night.
McDaniels finished his tenure with the third-worst record of any Raiders coach with at least 25 games.
AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.
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