Las Vegas Raiders bench Jimmy Garoppolo, will start rookie QB Aidan O'Connell going forward

2RH78RG Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O'Connell #4plays during a pre-season NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

The Las Vegas Raiders have announced that rookie Aidan O'Connell will start Week 9 against the New York Giants and going forward, with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport the first to report.

The move came amid a 24-hour whirlwind that saw the Raiders also part ways with head coach Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi and general manager Dave Ziegler.

It won’t be O'Connell’s first start, as the fourth-round rookie was thrown into the fire against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4 in relief of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. O'Connell ultimately struggled, earning just a 37.4 passing grade after going 24-for-39 for 238 yards and an interception. He made no big-time throws but three turnover-worthy plays.

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The Purdue product did enjoy success in preseason, though, earning an 87.0 passing grade across three games and finishing 43-for-62 for 482 yards, three touchdowns, three big-time throws and no turnover-worthy plays over those contests.

It won’t be easy for O'Connell, with his next two games coming against the New York Giants and New York Jets, two teams that know how to get after the quarterback. He'll then face the almost impossible task of keeping up with the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins.

This gives the Raiders a chance to see what O’Connell has. If he’s good, they have potentially found their quarterback of the future. If he’s bad and leads the team to a top-five pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the Raiders will find themselves in a position to land either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye.

Even if they don’t get a shot at either of the big two at the position, they would still know they need to find a long-term answer.

For Jimmy Garoppolo, it does prompt the question of where he goes from here. His 65.6 PFF grade through six games this season is on track to be his worst since 2018, and that caliber of play wouldn’t be an upgrade for many teams in the NFL. His best shot might be as a veteran for a team that drafts a quarterback early, so a reunion with the New England Patriots will surely be rumored in the coming months.


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