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Mark Davis on firing HC Josh McDaniels, GM David Ziegler: 'We were going in the wrong direction'

Mark Davis' late-night firings of Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler this week came as a surprise to many, but only because of the timing.

The product was clearly in rough shape in Las Vegas, and Davis had finally seen enough following the Raiders' 26-14 loss to Detroit on Monday Night Football. Roughly 24 hours after that defeat became official, the Raiders' owner terminated both McDaniels and Ziegler, bringing an end to what was once envisioned as a Patriots-like transformation of the Silver and Black after just 25 games.

"Unfortunately, I had great hopes for Josh and Dave," Davis told on Wednesday. "It just seemed we were going in the wrong direction. So, with the trade deadline, I just felt it was time to make a change, time to make a move."

Often in this league, when one approach doesn't work out, ownership ends up heading in the opposite direction with its next hire. Because these changes came just hours after the midway point of the season -- the trade deadline -- passed, Davis might end up doing so twice before the start of the 2024 season.

His first act in the post-McDaniels/Ziegler era: Replace the coach with a former player already on staff, whose disposition is the opposite of the departed McDaniels.

"Seemed like a fresh approach," Davis said of his chosen interim coach, Antonio Pierce. "Seemed like the adjustment we need at this time. I was impressed."

If anything, the promoted Pierce will likely connect with his players much better than McDaniels ever did. He promised as much during his introductory presser on Wednesday, in which he guaranteed the Raiders will be a player-led team under his watch. Such a sentiment falls in line with what Davis suggested he wanted from his coach: "Lead, not necessarily coach. To delegate to the coordinators and other position coaches. Be somebody they could follow. I felt good about it. I felt good about him."

But as of now, this is all just temporary. That's the point of the interim tag. If Pierce and interim GM Champ Kelly want to keep these jobs beyond the 2023 season, they'll have to prove they deserve it in the next 10 weeks.

"I have no idea," Davis told on Wednesday when asked what he expected from Pierce, Kelly and Co. "That's why they play the games. My job, my role is to give them all the tools possible for them to succeed.

"Once they're the head coach and general manager, they're the ones making the decisions."

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