Getty Former 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 most concerning is the way McDaniels has approached his offense as the Team prepared rookie fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell for his first career start.
According to SI.com, in Week 4, when McDaniels entered the starting lineup in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, he did nothing to adapt his offense to O’Connell’s style of play.
O’Connell obviously has a big arm and should be handled differently than Garoppolo, who relies more on short, quick passes. But Josh McDaniels made no adjustments.
“When rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell suffered a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers following Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury, frustration grew as McDaniels did nothing to change or alter his ‘system’ for the talented youngster,” says Hondo Carpenter reported by SI.
“Internally, McDaniels explained that it was “the way to learn his complicated offense,” but many questioned it.”
In fact, O’Connell had his moments in that game in Los Angeles, as he threw for 238 yards and kept the team within one score (24-17) with a chance to win or tie in the final minutes. But he threw one interception and, tellingly, was sacked seven times for 50 yards.
Mark Davis ‘furious’ over Josh McDaniels’ Aidan O’Connell treatment
Apparently, Josh McDaniels’ refusal to hand the offense over to Aidan O’Connell when Garoppolo was injured earned the ire of owner Mark Davis. The Raiders selected 37-year-old veteran Brian Hoyer in Week 7, an embarrassing 30-12 loss to the Bears in Chicago.
“While the loss wasn’t entirely Hoyer’s fault as the team lacked a spark, sources close to Davis say, ‘He was angry about not going rookie,'” Carpenter reported.
Hoyer was terrible against Chicago. He had a passing percentage of 17-for-23 but managed just 129 yards with two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 37.1. O’Connell came in relief and threw for 75 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, for a quarterback rating of 83.8.
But when it came time to make a decision on a quarterback for Week 8, Josh McDaniels, as Carpenter wrote, “stiffly went back to Garoppolo in Detroit.” The Raiders also lost that game on Monday Night Football.
Raiders star Davante Adams is a big fan
But with Antonio Pierce now in Las Vegas, Aidan O’Connell also appears to be firmly entrenched as the team’s starter, at least for the rest of the season. The last half of this year will determine whether the franchise is happy with O’Connell at the helm or whether it tries to acquire a quarterback in the draft or free agency next year.
One person involved in Josh McDaniels’ transformation, star receiver Davante Adams, has become a fan of O’Connell in their short time together.
“Aidan has stepped up,” Adams said this week. “He took control of the offense, he took control of the group. He was locked up all week. Once he knew he was the one going forward, you could see the ownership and confidence in it. We walked out of the locker room together after the game and I said to him, “Man, you’ve got a confidence and a swagger about you, that’s different.” It’s not loud, it’s not a swagger, it’s just a feeling of ” I belong.” He definitely does. It’s good that he’s there.
Sean Deveney is a veteran sports reporter who covers the NBA and NFL for Heavy.com. He has been writing for Heavy since 2019 and has more than two decades of NBA reporting experience, including 17 years as a senior NBA reporter for the Sporting News. Deveney is the author of seven nonfiction books, including “Fun City,” “Before Wrigley Were Wrigley,” and “Facing Michael Jordan.” More about Sean Deveney
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