A Josh McDaniels-sized cloud has disappeared over the Las Vegas Raiders locker room, and new chapter has begun under interim head coach Antonio Pierce.
Three days after the team's frustrating 26-14 loss to Detroit, the locker room appeared to be extremely jubilant for a team that is 3-5. From the posts of reporters in the Raiders locker room, it seems that the team feels like a weight has been lifted off of their shoulders. Vic Tafur of The Athletic even claimed that it was the "happiest locker room ever."
Happiest locker room ever.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) November 2, 2023
A mini basketball hoop was added. Offensive linemen were seen frequently challenging each other to playful wrestling matches. The team's star wide receiver Davante Adams was seen playing mini-hoop basketball against Ameer Abdullah — quite a difference from his tearful, helmet-slamming outburst three days earlier against the Lions.
— Logan Reever (@loganreever) November 2, 2023
"It was time for some sort of change," Adams said on Thursday. "Just to bring a little juice in and revitalize the team a little bit ... it's been too much of feeling like work and not having enough fun."
Adams only had one reception for 11 yards in Monday night's loss. His season-long frustrations came to a boiling point when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo overthrew him on a wide-open 4th-down pass late in the game. Davante held back his full thoughts when speaking to reporters after the game but was unhappy with the team's situation.
"I don't know what to say at the moment, I truly don't," Adams said. "I wish I had the words to say something that's not gonna get blown up in the media and taken out of context."
When all-pro running back Josh Jacobs was asked what needed to be done to fix the struggling offense, he simply said "I don't know, it ain't my job."
The Raiders front office thought that Josh McDaniels did not have the answers either, firing both him and general manager Dave Ziegler on Tuesday night. At Pierce's introductory press conference as the interim head coach, the former pro-bowl linebacker emphasized the fact that this was a new beginning for the organization. A fresh slate.
"It's a new day, it's a new chapter, it's a new era, it's a new mindset," Pierce said. "We're tired of losing. It's not a good feeling. We're a production-based business. We're about competition, being competitive, and playing with an edge and a swag and a certain confidence, that when we walk out of that damn tunnel, that everybody watching TV can see it and the product on the field is something we're proud of."
Just two days into his new role, Pierce already seems to have made a better connection with his players than McDaniels did in his one-and-a-half years in Las Vegas.
"I'm ready to run through a wall for that man," Adams said. "It's a good feeling."
Veteran wide receiver Hunter Renfrow also spoke of the team's shift in energy.
"There is a different energy," Renfrow said to reporters. "I think AP (Antonio Pierce) alluded to it, it's fun when you have nothing to lose. Let's go out there and have a great time and play hard and fast ... We're not walking on eggshells everywhere."
Whether or not the new energy that Pierce has brought along will translate to better results on the field is still up in the air. However, McDaniels' replacement has clearly lifted the energy of a previously demoralized Raiders' locker room.
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