The era of Jimmy G. in Las Vegas appears to be coming to an end after just six starts. In the wake of a major organizational overhaul that saw the departure of head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler, the Raiders have made a surprising decision to start rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell over Jimmy Garoppolo going forward. This change will be put into effect starting with Sunday’s game against the Giants, as confirmed by interim head coach Antonio Pierce.
Pierce explained the decision, stating, “We just feel like he [O’Connell] gives us the best chance.” Garoppolo’s performance in his first season with the Raiders has left much to be desired, which makes the transition to O’Connell a significant move, especially considering that Garoppolo signed a substantial three-year, $72.5 million contract during the offseason. It’s worth noting that if the Raiders were to part ways with Garoppolo after just one season, they would face a substantial $28.3 million dead cap hit in 2024.
Aidan O’Connell, a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, isn’t considered a blue-chip prospect or the clear successor to the quarterback position. Nonetheless, with Raiders owner Mark Davis losing faith in McDaniels and Ziegler’s vision, the franchise is willing to explore O’Connell’s potential as a starting quarterback.
Garoppolo, at 31 years old, has had a lackluster season, throwing seven touchdowns but also nine interceptions in his six starts this year. His performance hit a low point in Monday’s 26-14 road loss to the Lions, where he managed a mere 126 passing yards on 10 of 21 attempts and missed opportunities with Davante Adams for two potential touchdowns. Notably, Garoppolo exceeded 210 passing yards in just one of his starts, and McDaniels did not commit to him after Monday’s game, which turned out to be his final postgame press conference with the franchise.
On the other hand, Aidan O’Connell, a product of Purdue, has had limited experience, with one start and two games under his belt. In his sole start, he completed 24 of 39 passes for 238 yards with one interception in a 24-17 loss to the Chargers in Week 4 when Garoppolo was sidelined. Although the Raiders initially chose journeyman Brian Hoyer over O’Connell in Week 7, the rookie did enter the game and threw his first touchdown pass in a 30-12 loss. So far, O’Connell has completed 34 of 52 passes for 313 yards, throwing one touchdown and two interceptions.