Josh McDaniels Helped Sabotage Raiders Rookie QB: Report

Ex-Raiders coach Josh McDaniels (left) and Aidan O'Connell

Getty Ex-Raiders coach Josh McDaniels (left) and Aidan O'Connell

Of all the news and details that have leaked out of Las Vegas since the Raiders fired coach Josh McDaniels and promoted Antonio Pierce to interim head coach, one of the troublesome details involves how McDaniels approached his offense as the team prepared for the first career start of rookie fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell.

This was back on October 1, when O’Connell was set to make his NFL debut against the Chargers. According to, McDaniels did not do anything to adjust his offense to O’Connell’s style of play in Week 4, when he got the start in place of injured Jimmy Garoppolo.

O’Connell, of course, has a big arm and no NFL experience. It is only logical that he should be handled differently than Garoppolo, who operates more with short, quick passes and has played in the NFL for 10 years. But, alas, McDaniels did not make any adjustments, instead allowing O’Connell to struggle.

“When rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell started in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers after Jimmy Garoppolo was injured, seeds of frustration started to germinate when McDaniels did nothing to alter or change his ‘system’ for the talented youngster,” SI’s Hondo Carpenter reported.

“Internally, McDaniels explained that it was ‘the way to learn’ his complicated offense, but many questioned it.”

Mark Davis ‘Fumed’ Over Josh McDaniels’ Treatment of Aidan O’Connell

Indeed, O’Connell had his moments in that game in Los Angeles, throwing for 238 yards and keeping the team within one score (24-17), with a chance to win or tie in the final minutes. But he threw an interception and, tellingly, was sacked seven times for 50 yards.

Apparently, McDaniels’ refusal to turn the offense over to O’Connell when Garoppolo was hurt again in Week 7 drew the ire of owner Mark Davis. The Raiders opted to go with 37-year-old veteran Brian Hoyer, and the result was an embarrassing 30-12 loss to the Bears in Chicago.

“While the loss wasn’t only on Hoyer, when the team lacked a spark, sources close to Davis say: ‘He was fuming about not moving on to the rookie,'” Carpenter reported.

Hoyer was awful against Chicago. He was 17-for-23 passing but notched only 129 yards with two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 37.1. O’Connell came on in relief and threw for 75 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, logging a quarterback rating of 83.8.

But, when it came time to make a decision on a quarterback for Week 8, as Carpenter wrote, “Rigidly, Josh McDaniels went back to Garoppolo in Detroit.” The Raiders lost that one, too, on Monday Night Football.

Raiders Star Davante Adams Is a Big Fan

But with Pierce now in place in Las Vegas, it appears that O’Connell, too, is entrenched as the team’s starter, at least for the remainder of the season. The final half of this year will determine whether the franchise is comfortable with O’Connell at the helm moving forward, or whether they try to acquire a quarterback at at the draft or in free agency next year.

One guy who was involved in the change from McDaniels, star receiver Davante Adams, has developed into a fan of O’Connell in their short time together.

“Aidan stepped up,” Adams said this week. “He took control of the offense, he took control of the huddle. He was locked in all week. Immediately, as soon as he knew he was the guy going forward, you could see that ownership and that confidence that’s in there. We were walking out of the locker room together after the game and I told him, ‘Man you got a confidence and a swagger about you that’s different. It’s not loud, it’s not showboat, it’s just a sense of, I belong.’

“He certainly does. It’s good that he’s got there.”

It might have been helpful to McDaniels, too, if he had recognized that.

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