Some members within the Las Vegas Raiders organization reportedly felt that rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell should have been playing “much earlier” this season.
O’Connell is expected to start for the Raiders in Week 9 against the New York Giants, his second start of the 2023 season and first in several weeks. The Raiders have used Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer at quarterback this season.
Starting QB changes for Week 9:
Cardinals: Clayton Tune
Raiders: Aidan O’Connell
Vikings: Jaren Hall
Falcons: Taylor Heinicke
Giants: back to Daniel Jones
Browns: back to Deshaun Watson
Brett Rypien could start for Matthew Stafford (thumb) too. https://t.co/6V8sGgesQ3
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 4, 2023
A fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, O’Connell reportedly left quite an impression on some folks in the preseason.
“O’Connell impressed enough in the preseason that some in the Raiders building believed he should have been playing much earlier than Week 9,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote. “One high-ranking NFL evaluator who saw O’Connell’s Week 4 start vs. the [Los Angeles] Chargers said O’Connell can see the field from the pocket and is accurate to the first- and second-levels of the field. ‘Not a creator, but I think he can definitely see the game, throws a catchable ball and has toughness,’ the official said.”
O’Connell started against the Chargers in Week 4 with Garoppolo sidelined. He completed 24 of his 39 pass attempts for 238 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
A few weeks later, he came into the team’s game against the Chicago Bears in relief of Hoyer. O’Connell was solid, completing 10 of his 13 pass attempts for 75 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
At 3-5, the Raiders are turning to the rookie to perhaps turn around their season after Garoppolo continued to struggle in Week 8. While the team brought Garoppolo in this past offseason after cutting quarterback Derek Carr, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has struggled mightily.
So far this season, Garoppolo has just seven touchdown passes and nine interceptions in six games. He’s missed multiple games due to injury, yet he leads the NFL in picks.
O’Connell can’t be much worse, and it appears that some members of the Raiders organization believe he should have gotten the nod at an earlier date this season.
O’Connell played collegiately at Purdue University, and he appeared in 12 games in each of his last two seasons with the program. In his final season with the Boilermakers, O’Connell threw for 3,490 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
The Raiders may be hoping that the quarterback change will get them back in the playoff picture in the AFC, especially since the team hasn’t won since Oct. 15 against the New England Patriots.