Raiders’ Josh McDaniels Sends Message on Aidan O’Connell After Impressive Debut

aidan o connell

Getty Las Vegas Raiders QB Aidan O'Connell.

Aidan O’Connell’s preseason debut couldn’t have gone much better for the Las Vegas Raiders. The rookie quarterback completed 15-of-18 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. Two of his three incompletions were due to drops from receivers. He finished the day with a 117.8 passer rating.

One preseason game doesn’t necessarily mean O’Connell is the next Tom Brady but he’s already impressing coaches. Head coach Josh McDaniels had a lot of praise for the young quarterback following the 34-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

“There was a lot of firsts today for him — his first play call first, feeling pressure in the pocket, first two-minute drive, first halftime, all those things,” McDaniels said during his August 13 postgame press conference. “So, I thought he generally handled himself well for the first opportunity.

“He’s gonna learn a lot from some of the things that we might have been able to do a little bit better that would have helped us maybe sustain a few drives, but that’s why he was in there. So, he’s just a sponge, he soaks it all in, and he’ll take every opportunity to improve.”

O’Connell has a lot of work to do if he hopes to eventually be a starting quarterback in the NFL but he’s off to a good start.

Aidan O’Connell Discusses Performance

One thing that quickly stood out about Aidan O’Connell is that he carries himself with confidence. His first start in an NFL game didn’t seem to phase him. Yes, it’s preseason but he outperformed other rookie quarterbacks like Anthony Richardson and C.J. Stroud, who both threw interceptions in their debuts.

O’Connell is happy to finally get back on the field but acknowledges that he’s still a work in progress.

“Definitely some things to work on still, but it was fun to be out there, live action and bullets are really flying,” O’Connell said in his August 13 postgame press conference. “It’s a little different when you play quarterback, even if you practice against another team that can’t tackle you in practice and they can now.

“You just kind of hope to go out there and do your best and see what happens. I’m not worried about the stats. There’s more things than just the stats, and especially responsibility in the run game and stuff like that that I know I need to improve on. So, I know I have a lot of work to go still.”

Aidan O’Connell Still Behind Brian Hoyer on Depth Chart

Aidan O’Connell certainly made the case against the 49ers that he should be Jimmy Garoppolo’s primary backup. However, he’s going to have to show he can keep up the high level of play. Brian Hoyer didn’t play in the preseason game, which shows that he’s still ahead of O’Connell on the depth chart.

Josh McDaniels said in his postgame press conference that Garoppolo and Hoyer took the majority of reps in joint practices against the 49ers, which is why O’Connell got the start. Hoyer is a known commodity as he is entering his 15th year in the NFL. That said, he hasn’t won a start since 2015. If O’Connell keeps showing out in preseason, he has a chance to unseat Hoyer as Garoppolo’s primary backup.

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