Mark Davis Considered Legendary Coach for Raiders Opening: Report

mark davis antonio pierce

Getty Mark Davis with Antonio Pierce.

When the Las Vegas Raiders fired Josh McDaniels during the 2023 season and promoted Antonio Pierce to interim head coach, it looked like the team would undergo big transformations after the season. However, Pierce ended up doing well in the position and earned the full-time head coaching job.

That almost wasn’t the case as owner Mark Davis did consider his options. One of those options involved legendary former New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, per a report from ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Jeremy Fowler.

“The Raiders had just fired a pair of Belichick’s former acolytes in Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler,” Van Natta, Wickersham and Fowler wrote in an April 17 column. “Owner Mark Davis considered reaching out to Belichick but instead removed the interim from head coach Antonio Pierce’s title after interviewing other candidates.”

It appears that Davis’ interest in Belichick was just exploratory but it’s something he at least considered. Belichick has six Super Bowl championships as a head coach and is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. Despite that, he didn’t land a head coaching job this offseason. Belichick has a way he likes to do things and that rubs some people the wrong way. Pierce has been all about good vibes since getting the Raiders job so Davis must have preferred to have more of a positive culture after moving on from McDaniels.

Return to Patriot Way Would’ve Been Controversial

Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler tried to bring the “Patriot Way” to Las Vegas and it failed. The “Patriot Way” is about stressing the details and playing clean football. While it’s proven successful, it takes a lot of the fun out of playing football.

The attitude of Raiders players changed overnight after McDaniels and Ziegler were fired. The “Patriot Way” didn’t lead to much winning in Las Vegas, which makes it much harder to follow. The “Patriot Way” even stopped working in New England as the Patriots missed the playoffs in three of the last four seasons.

A return to the “Patriot Way” in Las Vegas likely wouldn’t have been met with open arms from players and fans, even if it was with Belichick. He’s one of the greatest coaches ever but the timing for him potentially joining the Raiders was not right.

“Bill didn’t have the respect to say anything to me after the game…kind of felt disrespected.”

#Raiders Adam Butler spent 4 seasons in New England and didn’t hold back on Bill Belichick after the game. #RaiderNation

Was Antonio Pierce the Right Choice?

There were some very strong coaches available for the Raiders to hire this offseason, including Bill Belichick, Jim Harbaugh and Mike Vrabel. While those three are more proven than Antonio Pierce, the Raiders didn’t even interview any of them. The team was clearly sold on Pierce after he went 5-4 as the interim head coach and had players vouching for him.

It’s certainly a risky choice considering Pierce has only been coaching at the NFL level for two years. He’s second-to-none when it comes to being a motivator but it remains to be seen how he’ll be with game management. The Raiders have tried so many different head coaches over the years and all of them have failed over the last two decades. The team is trying something different by going with the inexperienced Pierce but perhaps they needed to take a big swing to finally find the right guy.

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