Las Vegas Raiders Make Changes at Quarterback Position
Owner Mark Davis Fires Head Coach and General Manager
In a time of great change for the Las Vegas Raiders, owner Mark Davis has made significant moves within the organization. On Tuesday night, Davis fired head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. Now, the team’s quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, has also lost his starting job.
Raiders Bench Garoppolo, Start Rookie Aidan O’Connell
The Raiders have decided to bench current starter Jimmy Garoppolo and instead give rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell the opportunity to lead the team. Interim head coach Antonio Pierce confirmed reports during his introductory news conference on Wednesday that O’Connell will be the starting quarterback moving forward.
“We just feel like he gives us the best chance,” Pierce responded when asked about the decision to elevate the 25-year-old O’Connell.
Pierce and interim general manager Champ Kelly met with the team on Tuesday morning and witnessed a positive reaction to the change.
“The guys are rallying behind him. They’re excited to see him get his opportunity,” Kelly said.
Garoppolo’s Struggles and Unhappy Teammate
Garoppolo’s season has been far from successful. After signing a three-year, $67.5 million contract with the Raiders in March, the 31-year-old quarterback has struggled on the field. In six games, he has thrown for 1,205 yards with seven touchdowns and a league-leading nine interceptions. Additionally, Garoppolo’s performance has not pleased all of his teammates.
During the Raiders’ recent 26-14 loss to the Detroit Lions on Monday night, wide receiver Davante Adams expressed his frustration by slamming his helmet onto the ground after Garoppolo missed him on a potential touchdown throw. Adams declined to speak to the media after the game, fearing his words might reflect his disappointment.
A Fresh Start with Aidan O’Connell
Replacing Garoppolo is rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell. The 25-year-old was drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round in April after playing four years at Purdue. O’Connell has made one NFL start this season, resulting in a 24-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on October 1.
Disagreement within the Coaching Staff
Reports suggest that there has been disagreement within the coaching staff regarding the preferred starting quarterback in recent weeks. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, McDaniels wanted to start veteran Brian Hoyer, who is 38 years old, against the Chicago Bears when Garoppolo was out with a back injury in Week 7. However, some members of the coaching staff were pushing for O’Connell to start. McDaniels believed that O’Connell’s one interception against the Chargers was too risky, and Hoyer’s experience would be a better fit, especially since Chicago was starting rookie Tyson Bagent.
Unfortunately for McDaniels, his decision backfired. Hoyer was benched after throwing two interceptions, and O’Connell came in as his replacement. O’Connell quickly orchestrated an eight-play, 60-yard drive to score a garbage-time touchdown in the fourth quarter. Despite O’Connell’s efforts, the Raiders lost 30-12 to the Bears.