Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

Major decisions are coming in the next several weeks and months that will shape the Las Vegas Raiders’ future.

But this was a day for Antonio Pierce to enjoy.

He and new general manager Tom Telesco were officially introduced Wednesday after owner Mark Davis removed the interim title from Pierce’s job title last Friday and hired Telesco on Tuesday.

“This is going to be my best day and I’m going to celebrate it and I’m going to enjoy it,” Pierce said. “I’m going to have fun with it because I know there are going to be some ups and downs. There are going to be some days where you want to go hide in a corner and don’t want to talk to nobody.

“That’s why when I first got the call from Mark that I went outside by myself and looked up to the sky.”

The two are now tasked with turning around a franchise that has missed the playoffs 19 of the past 21 seasons.

The 45-year-old Pierce gave the organization a boost of energy, however, when he was named the interim coach at midseason after Josh McDaniels was fired. The Raiders went 5-4 under Pierce to finish 8-9 overall.

Players rallied around Pierce, with defensive end Maxx Crosby publicly pushing hard for him as recently as last week. What role the player support had in Pierce getting the job is unknown because Davis didn’t take questions from the media after introducing his coach and GM.

“AP came in in short notice and produced on the field,” Telesco said. “Just the way he galvanized the team, he galvanized the building, he galvanized the fan base. That is a huge part of it because you have to get that right. So to have that in place obviously (is) a big part of taking this job. To have a leader like this that we’ve already seen on the field what he can do, it’s exciting.”

Telesco, 51, comes over from Los Angeles, having been the Chargers’ general manager since 2013 before being fired with coach Brandon Staley on Dec. 15, the day after losing 63-21 at Las Vegas.

Telesco praised his former AFC West rival Raiders for being an “iconic franchise,” saying he was even more impressed after getting a close look and sensing “a connection and a fit.”

“I haven’t been here long, but … you see it tangibly,” Telesco said. “This football facility is jaw dropping for me. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s amazing. The resources are amazing here.”

Pierce and Telesco have some notable decisions to make. Among them:

— Stay with quarterback Aidan O’Connell or search for a replacement? O’Connell was taken in the fourth round last year out of Purdue and largely played like a mid-round draft pick. But O’Connell also went 5-4 when given the job full time, and threw eight touchdown passes and no interceptions over his final four games.

Pierce noted O’Connell’s growth and said that will benefit him as he goes into his offseason conditioning program. Telesco and Pierce, however, said they need to more closely evaluate the position.

“We’ve got to do that at every position,” Telesco said. “That’s really probably No. 1, at least for me.”

— Who will be the offensive coordinator? Interviews are scheduled with former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher, Pittsburgh Steelers QB coach Mike Sullivan and ex-Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.

Pierce said he didn’t want to limit himself to looking for a particular type of coordinator, but acknowledged the Raiders’ long history of pushing the ball down the field.

“We want the explosive plays,” Pierce said. “That has to be a part of the creativity. You look at the shifts, the motions, all that stuff goes into it. Just think of when (the) Raiders were playing really good football, and that’s going to be your offensive coordinator, hopefully, as we go forward.”

— Will Champ Kelly remain? For now, at least. Kelly became the interim GM at the same time Pierce was elevated and appeared to be a strong candidate to get the position full time.

Unless he gets an opportunity at another club, Kelly likely will remain in Las Vegas as the assistant general manager and help Telesco try to put together a competitive roster. Pierce also will be part of the process.

“It’s a partnership for a reason because it’s not a one-person job,” Telesco said. “I don’t have all the answers, so we’re going to use all these people that we have — scouts, coaches and head coach.”

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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