The Las Vegas Raiders (5-6) return home to Allegiant Stadium this week to take on their arch-AFC West Rivals, the World Champion Kansas City Chiefs (7-3).
After the performance that the Silver and Black had in a loss at Miami this past weekend, the Raiders are ready to get back on the field and get this franchise back to their winning ways.
Coach Antonio Pierce stepped to the microphone to discuss the loss to the Dolphins and look ahead to this weekend's post-Thanksgiving matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs.
You can watch the entire press conference above.
Here is a transcript of what Pierce had to say.
Interim Head Coach Antonio Pierce
Q: You said yesterday that you wanted to take a look at the film before really diving into Aidan O'Connell. What was your assessment of his performance yesterday? Coach Pierce: "I think two halves, right? First half, executing, getting the ball where we want it to, maybe a throw or two here we wish we could have and complete. In the second half, as we know, no need to pressthere. There was some situations where we were probably pressing. We've talked about it. It's going to be obviously a great learning lesson, not just for Aidan, but for myself and what positions we put him in and how we allow the flow of the game to go and not to have that kind of stress on a young quarterback. So, it's a team effort, it's a team's disappointment as well. It's not on Aidan, we didn't lose the game because of Aidan. Let's get that straight. But Aidan does know he needs to care of the ball, that's the quarterback's number one job, and we'll get better at that."
Q: When it is a rookie quarterback, especially starting mid-season with all your goalsstill in front of you, there probably are going to be some growing pains with a young quarterback. How do you walk those two lines right there? Coach Pierce: "That's where you want the team to kind of rally around the guy. I mean, look around the National Football League, a lot of young quarterbacks are playing, a lot of guys are struggling with young quarterbacks, some guys are doing really well. And for two games, we did well, and we had one half that didn't go the Raiders' way. And again, as we talked about it, our leaders from Kolton Miller to Dre [Andre James] to Josh Jacobs to Tae [Davante Adams], they have to put their arm around a young guy because we've all had rough days like that in office and not to point fingers at anybody, you can't do that. It's a team effort when we win, it's a team effort when we lose."
Q: Nothing specifically on Aidan O'Connell, but when you have a rookie quarterback, what kind of timeframe do you have to know whether he's your guy or whether you need to look elsewhere? Coach Pierce: "We have six more gamesleft,so we'll find out in six more. And then we'llsee what happens with AP in 2024."
Q: I know it's easy to second guess, but looking back at that last drive before half, I know you said you wanted to kind of protect the quarterback. Do you still feel that way after looking at the film? Coach Pierce: "I think not just the quarterback, but just our defense as well. They were getting the ball at the beginning of the second half, very explosive offense. Had two timeouts. Our philosophy on certain days is to do things a certain way— with that clock and where it was, we're in field goal position, go ahead and take as much time off the clock as we could, and play this thing out, right? So, we do that. We don't convert the first down and we kick the field goal. They don't concede, they throw the ball and complete a 30-yard pass with timeouts, so you can see they were very aggressive in their mode, and we knew that. We didn't want to have any more seconds on the clock. So, that was the philosophy there and obviously they were getting the ball back in the second half. Didn't want to give them any other opportunities or possessions."
Q: As a player coming off a loss, what are some of the things that were helpful for you in terms of learning from it but not letting it kind of linger around? Coach Pierce: "Yeah, I mean, it's hard because especially you have five hours to sit on a plane and think about it. First of all, I think you have to reflect on what you did well. And then what can you correct? What were the mistakes? Why did you make that mistake? And to be honest, it's the 24-hour rule. And for us, it's even shorter, because we'll be on the practice field tomorrow. I told our guys to flush it out of their system. Just like we embrace wins, we embrace the losses and learn from them. And we're doing that. You would wish this journey for myself and the team that we would be undefeated, but that's not going to happen. I'm a realist. But more importantly, you get back to it. It's the National Football League, man. Damn, that was a good football team. They lost to two defending Super Bowl Champions in the Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, so we knew we were up to the challenge, but there was no excuse, there were no mistakes. Guys came out fresh, we were ready to go. Did we complain about the heat? No. Did we complain about the travel? No. Guys strapped up and played and we went out there and we gave ourselves an opportunity in the fourth quarter three times to either tie the game or win it, and it just didn't go our way."
Q: You said multiple times yesterday that there’s no moral victories. But considering how the defense played against the Dolphins, what kind of optimism does that bring going into the Chiefs who have another explosive offense? Coach Pierce: "Yeah, we know what we did really well and we know we didn't do well, especially against an elite receiver like [Tyreek] Hill. But we're going to deal with that with [Travis] Kelce and probably one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Patrick Mahomes, who we have ultimate respect for, and Andy Reid as a play caller. It's a good thing for our defense over the last three weeks to do what they've been doing. It's just getting better and better. We're healthy, guys are flying around, they're having fun, they're not blinking. The turnovers have been really critical for us, the guys are just attacking football. You saw that with Nate Hobbs, you see Maxx [Crosby] do it every play, Robert [Spillane] almost had another interception. So, like I told you guys last week, defense travels. I thought they did a good job last week of bringing their lunch pail and getting ready to work, and we're going to have to do that here at home."
Q: Saw that Amik Robertson was up, but I don't think I saw him on the on the field. Was that just still kind of cautionary coming off a concussion? Coach Pierce: "Yeah, protect the player first. He was ready to go, but Meek [Amik Robertson] is a young player. And being a former player, you never want to put somebody in a position. I don't care if they get cleared or not, you want to protect the player. And that was my call."
Q: Maxx Crosby obviously has a pretty fun little rivalry with Patrick Mahomes, you've seen that on the Netflix special. When you were playing, who did you have a rivalry with like that where you can kind of go back and forth with? What's a funny story? Coach Pierce: "Yeah, Donovan McNabb. And it's funny even with Andy Reid, I think I played Andy Reid over 22-23 timesin my career, playoffsincluded. McNabb was alwaysthe quarterback, and when we were kind of rolling with the Giants, I don't know if it was a playoff game I can't remember, but he ran to the sideline and he picked up the telephone and told our coordinators that we needed help down there on the field. Then he told me, when he called out the Mike, he said, '58 is the Mike, I just called your coordinator.' I said, 'Okay, I got you buddy', and they won the game. But it's alright because we got them back the next year, we sacked him 13 times and I called his coordinator and his o-line coach, so it was fun. Good dude, man, very competitive player. It was always fun playing against Andy Reid and McNabb."
Q: You mentioned before how the offense goes through Josh Jacobs. When a team focuses on slowing him down like Miami did, how do you kind of get that thing jumpstarted? Coach Pierce: "Yeah, well, we've seen that now the last three weeks. The Giants did it, the Jets did it. Just being consistent. Obviously, we don't want those touches to be at that 14 mark, that's not our number. Our magic number is 20 plus, and we got to stay with it. It's not always pretty, there was a one-yard or two-yard there, but yesterday there were some fives,some eight and nines. And we just got to remember that as we're calling it and stick with it. And I give Josh [Jacobs] a lot of credit, he's very patient, frustrated like we all were with the result yesterday. And obviously, I've said since I've gotten here, it will run through Josh Jacobs. That opens up everything for Davante [Adams], for Jakobi [Meyers]. I mean, you see crazy legs Hunter Renfrow doing what he was doing yesterday. So, it just opens up for our entire offense and our o-line, it helps everybody out. So, that'll be the plan. Everybody knows, there's no hidden agenda. We've got the best running back in football, and we're going to use him, and we need to use him."
Q: A couple of penalties that took away big plays, one on a sack by Malcolm Koonce that would've gotten you guys off the field. A couple on some positive yards offensively. Is that just another reminder of avoiding those things in order to not put yourself in those kinds of positions? Coach Pierce: "Man, especially early on in the game, right? And they all happened to us in the first half. We get a sack by [Malcolm] Koonce, then we get a penalty. We get a big run by JJ [Josh Jacobs], then we get a holding call. And then I think they called an illegal pick or an OPI or whatever it may be. That's frustrating, but I think what the guys did and what we talked about at halftime, they made those adjustments. I think it was three penalties versus Giants, three versus Jets, and five last week, so the number is going down. We want to keep it at three and under, but when it happens especially on the explosive plays, that's tough, and that obviously extended drives for the offense or defense."
Q: Obviously, you were part of coaching the defense last year, what do you think have been the biggest factors in the turn around that you guys have made on that side of the ball so far this year? Coach Pierce: “I think it starts with the coaches, understanding who our personnel is and playing to the strengths of our personnel, and then the players buying into what we're doing. That's the big thing. Well, how do you buy in? You got to have success. And as you start to have success as a team, and as individuals, you start to believe in what the coordinator is saying or how he is setting certain things up. And Patrick Graham has done an outstanding job with that each and every week. I think it was on full display yesterday. That offense is explosive. Yes, they got us early in the game but think about that fourth down stop, that was huge. Think about the turnovers, think about limiting the running game, not getting those guys started on explosive runs that they've had. Number 10 (Tyreek Hill) is difficult to stop, and we knew that was a challenge. But when you got guys like Robert Spillane, Marcus Epps, you got Max Crosby, you got your blue-collar guys with Jenks (John Jenkins) and Bilal [Nichols] and those guys, it all starts to come together, and you start to build this tight knit group who have pride for one another and don't want to let each other down. And that's what we talked about, and that's been throughout the spring and the summer and now is carried on into the season.”
Q: You guys had to lean on Isaiah Pola-Mao at safety and he seemed to answer the bell pretty well? Coach Pierce: “He did. I’ve known Isaiah since he was younger, he’s a very athletic safety. You saw that there on that deep ball, came out the post and went and got it. I thought he was very physical in the game. Here's a guy – you know how it is during the week, the starters get all the reps. He might have got a handful of reps, but you couldn't tell, came in right away and was very impactful, very physical in the run game. And obviously he has some traits in the backend to cover a lot of ground for us, so you'd love to start seeing him get going with that combination with [Marcus] Epps and Tre’von [Moehrig] and get [Roderic] Teamer back in the mix, you like what you got in the back end.”
Q: It’s always easy to second guess, but how difficult was it to make the decision on fourth downs to go for it instead of trying to kick those field goals? Coach Pierce: “Went there to win. You know, early in the game, you’d probably kick the field goals. Fourth quarter, how many possessions am I going to get? I don't know. Okay, kick one field goal and go for another one, I still need a touchdown to win. Do we keep holding that offense down who was getting three and outs? So, there's a lot of factors that go into it. But I told my team we're all in when we went down there. Look, we played to win, and I’ll leave it at that.”
Q: Can you talk about Luke Masterson and his progression from undrafted rookie to what he's doing now? Coach Pierce: “Yeah, very similar, right. I think in high school to college was a quarterback and receiver and then goes play safety for a couple years, switches to linebacker. He comes here, we work together, he does an outstanding job of just changing his body. He looks like a linebacker now and then you really trust him as the third linebacker and possibly a starter. He is playing that way and he's been very capable of going in and making plays. He just shows up, he flashes here and there, and he'll get better and better. But here's a young guy that last year played a lot and started some games for us. And now when something happens to [Divine] Deablo or [Robert] Spillane needs to take a break, he goes in. He can be a green dot, he can play both Mike and Will for us. Hats off to him because he studies the game and plays the game the right way.”
Q: Does Robert Spillane know what a break is? Coach Pierce: “I hope he doesn't because I don't want him out of the game either. But as I told you guys a while back, blue-collar, old school. I mean you sit there looking at him and you can tell he’s just battered and bruised and he’s just like, ‘Nope not coming out, nope.’ ‘You need a breather? Nope.’ He wants to keep going and can't have enough of him. Him and Maxx [Crosby], can’t have enough of them.”
Q: Do you have an update on Kolton Miller? Coach Pierce: “No, we do not. Actually, guys are coming in today, it’s their day off, some guys have been in treatment. But Kolton was close last week, so I'm hoping we get our big boy back this week.”
The Silver and Black will return home next week to celebrate Thanksgiving and take on their AFC West rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, on Sunday, November. 26, at 4:25 p.m. EST/1:25 p.m. PST.
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