The Raiders could not have scripted a better response to the massive leadership changes they made last week. In firing coach Josh McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi and replacing them with interim coach Antonio Pierce and new play-caller Bo Hardegree, the Raiders created a fresh start.
It’s left their fan base much more enthused than it was two weeks ago, but not at a loss for questions.
Here is a sampling of what arrived in this week’s mailbag:
Jarin Vallinas (ANTONIO PIERCE IS MY HC 4-5) (@jarin_vallinas): Aidan O’Connell did pretty well against the Giants, but every analyst questions if what we are doing is sustainable. Thoughts?
Vincent Bonsignore: Two factors give it a chance to have some legs. First, the Raiders are playing their best defense in years, and that will give them a chance almost every time they step on the field. Second, they clearly have the back of Pierce and seem determined to play for him through the finish line. From an emotional standpoint, expect them to stay dialed in.
If O’Connell can build off that performance, and Josh Jacobs and the run game continue to produce, then this can be sustainable. That makes Sunday’s game against the Jets so fascinating because their effort and efficiency will go a long way toward revealing if last week was the start of something important or just a one-and-done.
MrBlockbuster99 (@MrBlockbuster99): Finally feeling good about this team, but any area of concern that might derail this positivity?
VB: As it relates to this week, can they generate the same level of emotions and intensity without the shot in the arm that last week provided? Can they maintain that? Also, injuries are always a concern.
Dino (@DinoRaiders): Will there be any new wrinkles play-wise? I know they can’t change the much midseason, but can Hardagree implement a few of his own concepts?
VB: One thing history has proven is this isn’t rocket science. And at this level, players are intelligent when it comes to X’s and O’s. So you can expect tinkering and additions to the playbook to continue throughout the season. As such, more and more of Hardegree’s personality and imprint will be felt.
dark knight (@mruserability): Are Raiders ticket prices going to drop because of all the changes?
VB: It all depends on whether they win or lose. And the demand of the other team’s fan base plays a role, too. Las Vegas is a popular NFL city now, and the fans of other teams have shown they love making the trip. That almost guarantees there will be a healthy market for tickets, and the prices usually reflect that.
BringNDaRuckus (@chris4aces): What year do all the Raiders’ former head coaches come off the books?
VB: McDaniels has three-plus years left on his deal. Jon Gruden was a settlement payment, so the assumption is that money has been paid. Keep in mind the only books this affects are owner Mark Davis’ bottom line. None of those salaries impact the salary cap, which only includes the salaries of the players.
Ian Swanson (@IanSwanson_): As of right now, who do you see the Raiders taking in the 2024 NFL draft?
VB: If O’Connell shows he is the quarterback of the future, an offensive or defensive lineman, or a secondary player. If he doesn’t, quarterback.