Antonio Pierce Ripped for Not Benching Aidan O’Connell, Raiders HC Explains

antonio pierce aidan o'connell

Getty Antonio PIerce with Aidan O'Connell.

The Las Vegas Raiders finally have a great defense. The problem is that it has come at the expense of an offense. The Raiders lost in Week 14 at home to the Minnesota Vikings by an incredible score of 3-0.

That’s the first time an NFL game has had that score since a 2007 matchup between the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers. Rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell was completely ineffective and completed 21-of-32 passes for 169 yards with an interception.

O’Connell was clearly not ready for this game and many fans wanted to see him benched at halftime. Despite the fact that his play didn’t improve, interim head coach Antonio Pierce decided to keep him in the game.

Fans took to X to voice their displeasure with Pierce over his coaching.

Many just couldn’t understand why the rookie stayed in the game.

Pierce’s decision may end up being what causes him to not earn the full-time head coaching job after the season.

This was a sentiment held by a number of fans.

The Raiders have Jimmy Garoppolo as a backup quarterback. While he has struggled this season, he’s proven to be capable in previous seasons. He could’ve at least provided a spark for a lifeless offense and Pierce’s decision to not make a change could seal his fate.

Antonio Pierce Explains Decision

It’s not a guarantee that Jimmy Garoppolo could’ve come in and won the game for the Raiders but he certainly couldn’t have been worse than Aidan O’Connell, who threw the interception that sealed the loss.

Antonio Pierce has made some questionable decisions since taking over for Josh McDaniels as head coach and sticking with O’Connell has certainly been the subject of criticism. He had a chance to explain his thought process after the game.

“We were moving the ball, there were opportunities, penalties, turnovers, for us to put points on the board and that just wasn’t the quarterback,” Pierce said during his December 10 postgame press conference. “Like I said, it was the offense. It’s easy to point the finger at the quarterback, and obviously, we’ll look at that as we go forward but we knew when we put Aidan in there at quarterback, there was going to be some ups and downs. And this was not one of our better performances.”

Is It Time to Start Jimmy Garoppolo?

The Raiders now have some big decisions to make. Aidan O’Connell clearly isn’t the quarterback of the future. That’s not his fault. He was a fourth-round pick who wasn’t supposed to play this season. He could end up being a great backup but certainly isn’t a franchise quarterback.

At 5-8, the Raiders’ playoff hopes are effectively dead. Even if they win their last four games, it’ll take some luck to make it in. Jimmy Garoppolo’s 5.4% interception percentage is still the worst in the NFL but he’s 43-20 in his career as a starter.

If the goal is to try and win the last four games, the Raiders need to start Garoppolo. If they’d prefer to continue to develop O’Connell and see what happens, that’s still a viable option but it’s difficult to see Las Vegas winning many more games. Antonio Pierce may have already lost his chance at getting the full-time head coaching job so he will likely try to put the team in the best position to win for these final four games.

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