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Raiders coach Antonio Pierce talks Chiefs win, Jack Jones, Maxx Crosby

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It’s officially Antonio Pierce’s show with the Las Vegas Raiders now, as he had the interim tag removed last month, becoming the team’s full-time head coach.

Pierce was named interim head coach after Josh McDaniels was fired following the Raiders’ Week 8 loss to the Detroit Lions. Las Vegas went 5-4 under Pierce.

The Raiders’ standout moments under Pierce included a road victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas Day and a 63-21 dismantling of the Los Angeles Chargers, leading to the Bolts firing head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco — who’s now ironically the Raiders general manager — the next day.

On the latest edition of “All Facts No Brakes,” Pierce explained to host Keyshawn Johnson why the win over Kansas City was sweet.

“That felt good, I ain’t gonna lie,” Pierce said of the victory. “You know why? Because that first game [against the Chiefs], I think a lot of people kinda forget we were up 14-0, and we had a couple flaws on defense where we kinda let the floodgates open, and Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid got rolling. They started making plays. Next thing you know it’s 31-17. ‘I’m like god damn, what happened?’ I said ‘this time, we’re not gonna do it.’ We gonna jump on them early, which I felt we could, but I wanted to overwhelm them with our energy, our passion, our physicality, mentally, emotionally. 

“I told Maxx to make sure he touched 15 [Mahomes] every play. I made sure I told Jack (Jones) and our DBs, ‘make sure you’re out there woofing as you’re calling out calls;’ we’re playing that mind game with them. And from the offensive side of the ball, I wanted to be as physical as possible. … to go into Arrowhead on Christmas Day, when I know everybody is watching, the way the game went was beautiful.” 

The Raiders claimed cornerback Jack Jones off waivers from the New England Patriots in November. Across the seven games that Jones appeared in for the Raiders, he logged two interceptions, running back both for touchdowns.

Pierce had previously coached Jones in college when he was an assistant at Arizona State. The 26-year-old defensive back has gotten in trouble with the law in the past, which Pierce implied gave the Raiders hesitation about bringing Jones aboard. 

That said, the head coach feels the franchise is getting the best out of Jones as both a player and person.

“I said ‘I believe in him so much, if we eff this up, get rid of both of us at the end of the season’ because I know what I’m getting with Jack Jones,” Pierce said. “First and foremost, Jack is not a bad young man. He’s a father. He graduated from ASU. He’s made decisions that we all made at certain times in our life that we wish we could go back [on]. He has never hurt anybody. He’s done nothing so criminal where he’s put himself in position to be jailed. … but when you put him in a culture and an environment where he can be taught, led, groomed, hugged, loved, disciplined, and you can keep recycling that cycle with him, you’re going to get the best out of him. And what you saw was just that, because on the field, he’s a problem, and that’s in a good way. … 

“You want somebody that believes in you, and Jack knows I believe in him, he believes in me.”

Maxx Crosby — who logged a career-high 14.5 sacks this season — hinted he would ask for a trade if the Raiders didn’t promote Pierce to full-time head coach. Pierce has nothing but praise for his star defensive end.

Jaylon Johnson reacts to Maxx Crosby’s demand for Raiders to hire Antonio Pierce

“It’s pretty cool, I’ll tell you that, because you know his voice and what he says carries a lot of weight, not only in our locker room, but with our staff and within our building and, obviously, our owner heard it, as well. You respect somebody that does that,” Pierce said of Crosby banging the table for him. 

“Obviously, Maxx, what he does on the grass, what he does in the community on and off the field, he’s a true Raider, true professional; he’s only getting better and better. And me and Maxx have a really good relationship. That started back at the beginning. Maxx Crosby was the first player to introduce himself when I walked in that building. 

“But I think, more importantly, what Maxx was doing was he wasn’t just speaking for Maxx Crosby. He was speaking for the locker room; he was speaking for other people who were having side conversations with him, and said look ‘I got an opportunity, I got a platform to speak and I’ma do it, and I really don’t care what the consequences are gonna be.'”

Pierce played nine years in the NFL, split up between Washington (2001-04) and the New York Giants (2005-09). The linebacker racked up four seasons of 100-plus combined tackles and most notably helped the Giants win Super Bowl XLII.

Pierce was the head coach of Long Beach Poly High School from 2014-17 before joining Arizona State as a linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator in 2018. He then had associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator added to his job title in 2020 and was named defensive coordinator in 2021.

Pierce was hired as part of McDaniels’ coaching staff with the Raiders for the 2022 NFL season as a linebackers coach.

Pierce, 45, grew up a Raiders fan. The franchise hasn’t made the playoffs since 2021 and has missed the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons.

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