Well, it was a nice NFL week for Jimmy Garoppolo in Las Vegas while it lasted. Actually, he barely even got to spend it in Las Vegas — theRaiders went from their Week 1 win in Denver to a practice week in West Virginia to their Week 2 game in Buffalo. In that span, Garoppolo has made the predictable journey from hero and veteran leader of men to washed-up chucker who needs to be kicked to the curb, the sooner the better.
There is a large and loud segment of Raiders fans on the Jimmy-must-go bandwagon. And credit some for being on it since the preseason, when Raiders rookie Aidan O’Connell’s remarkable efficiency in exhibition games had some calling for him to replace Garoppolo sooner rather than later.
Certainly, it was an ugly afternoon against the Buffalo Bills for Garoppolo, who led the Raiders to all of one touchdown in a 38-10 blowout loss. Garoppolo was 16-for-24 passing for 185 yards, throwing two interceptions and posting a quarterback rating of 68.9.
And that’s gotten the hype train started for O’Connell — again. Raiders Twitter, for one, is widely calling on coach Josh McDaniels to play the fourth-round pick out of Purdue, but he was the subject of quarterback controversy speculation from credible NFL observers even before the season got rolling.
‘Jimmy G Is Trash’
Some highlights on X, formerly Twitter, from the Aidan O’Connell bandwagon, summed up by this one (edited for your consumption): “Jimmy G is f** trash. Right where he came from (niner bridge). Can someone put in Aidan O’Connell we might have a better chance. What a joke.”
“PUT AIDAN O’CONNELL IN,” posted another fan.
Of course, as this X user points out, the Raiders don’t even have O’Connell eligible to be on an NFL field. Garoppolo is the starter, and the backup has been Brian Hoyer, who turns 38 next month and has played all of 17 games in the last six seasons.
But it’s not just on Twitter. In the Las Vegas Review-Journal, columnist Ed Graney had called on the Raiders to at least make O’Connell the backup before the season, pointing out Garoppolo’s long history of injuries and writing, “You need to understand, if something happened to Garoppolo and the opportunity arose, if O’Connell could be a long-term answer. Identifying a quarterback of the future might not be priority No. 1, but it’s in the ballpark.”
And there was Fox Sports talking head Colin Cowherd, also wondering publicly in a segment about whether O’Connell or Garoppolo should be The Guy for the Raiders.
O’Connell Draws Comparisons to Tom Brady
O’Connell had sterling preseason numbers, throwing for 482 yards on 43-of-62 passing. He added three touchdowns and no interceptions in three games.
As a walk-on at Purdue, he was widely overlooked throughout his career, and was a walk-on at Purdue. The Raiders traded up in the fourth round to draft him, in part, according to NFL insider Tom Pelissero, because McDaniels — who spent the bulk of his coaching career in New England — saw some Tom Brady in O’Connell’s game.
“He’s good in terms of accuracy, he has a good feel for the passing game, he’s got good feet, too. The only thing he could not do was move. The mobility was the biggest question (on O’Connell),” Pelissero said. “He’s a classic NFL pocket passer. Well, who does that sound like the profile on, another guy who went late in the draft? Tom Brady. I am not saying Aidan O’Connell is Tom Brady, but of course, that’s Josh McDaniels’ foundation going back to New England.”
Pelissero pointed out that, after the raiders signed Garoppolo to a three-year, $72.5 million contract in the offseason, O’Connell was not going to win the starting job coming out of camp. But during the season is another story.
“This is going to be one of those fun storylines to keep an eye on … Somewhere down the line here, we could be talking about Aidan O’Connell,” Pelissero said.