“After much thought about what the Raiders need to move forward, I have decided to part ways with Josh and Dave,” owner Mark Davis said in a statement. “I want to thank them both for their hard work and wish them and their families nothing but the best.”
Reached by phone and asked to elaborate on the reason for the firings, Davis told ESPN, “No comment at this time.”
The Raiders named linebackers coach Antonio Pierce as their interim head coach. The team also said that current assistant general manager Champ Kelly will serve as interim GM. In announcing those promotions, the organization said it is committed to undergoing “a comprehensive search” for a head coach and general manager “once the season is complete.”
The Raiders also fired offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday. Quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree will be promoted to offensive coordinator and take over offensive playcalling, which had been handled by McDaniels, sources told ESPN, confirming an NFL Network report.
The move comes one day after the Raiders lost 26-14 at Detroit on “Monday Night Football,” Las Vegas’ second consecutive defeat in which the team’s offense could get no traction. With the defeat, the Raiders dropped to 3-5.
McDaniels and Ziegler, both hired in January 2022, inherited a 10-7 team that made an unexpected run to the playoffs during the 2021 season — the organization’s second postseason bid since 2002 — under interim coach Rich Bisaccia and then-GM Mike Mayock, who took over following the in-season resignation of coach Jon Gruden.
Davis said at the time that McDaniels and Ziegler were expected to take the team to the “next step” in its evolution. Instead, the Raiders went a combined 9-16 without a playoff appearance under the new regime, as McDaniels finished his tenure with the third-worst record of any Raiders coach with at least 25 games.
McDaniels did not last two full seasons in his previous stop as a head coach either, going a combined 11-17 with the Denver Broncos from 2009 to 2010. He became the first non-interim coach in the Super Bowl era to be fired by two franchises before the end of his second season.
Davis was enamored with McDaniels’ offensive system and background as a longtime offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, with whom McDaniels won six Super Bowl rings.
But the offensive success did not translate to Las Vegas, and the Raiders suffered some of the most embarrassing defeats in franchise history under the McDaniels-Ziegler duo. That included blowing a 20-0 halftime lead against the Arizona Cardinals for the biggest collapse in franchise history, losing to Indianapolis in the Colts‘ first game with Jeff Saturday as interim coach after he had never coached above the high school level, blowing a double-digit lead to Baker Mayfield and the Los Angeles Rams two days after Mayfield joined his new team, and getting shut out in New Orleans when the starting offense failed to cross the 50-yard line.
The Raiders this season moved on from nine-year starter Derek Carr, who was benched and inactive for the final two weeks of 2022. In March, they signed the oft-injured Jimmy Garoppolo — McDaniels’ former pupil in New England — to a three-year, $72.75 million free agent contract. Shortly after signing with Las Vegas, Garoppolo underwent left foot surgery that caused him to miss all of the Raiders’ offseason on-field program and be on a “pitch count” in training camp.
Garoppolo has missed 2½ games this season because of a concussion and back injury and leads the NFL in interceptions with nine. He is coming off one of the worst statistical games of his career in Detroit.
The Raiders have the No. 31 total offense in the NFL, are No. 32 in rushing yards per game (70) and rank No. 30 in points per game (15.8). All-Pros Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs have been underused at receiver and running back, respectively, for most of the season. Adams had one catch for 11 yards at Detroit and has not caught a touchdown pass since Week 3. Jacobs, the NFL’s reigning rushing leader, has yet to record a 100-yard rushing game this season, bottoming out at minus-2 yards in a Week 2 blowout loss at the Buffalo Bills.
Then there’s former Pro Bowl slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, who caught 103 passes in 2021, but has just 10 receptions on 16 targets this season.
Pierce will be the eighth different head coach, interim or regular, for the Raiders since Davis took control of the team after the death of his father, Al Davis, in October 2011. Pierce follows Hue Jackson, Dennis Allen, Tony Sparano, Jack Del Rio, Gruden, Bisaccia and McDaniels.
Pierce will make his NFL head-coaching debut Sunday against the 2-6 New York Giants, with whom he won a Super Bowl as a player in 2007.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked Wednesday if he would be open to McDaniels returning to the team if he had interest.
“Just getting ready for Washington,” he said.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.