It wasn’t always pretty, but in the end, the Las Vegas Raiders came away with a tough 17-16 victory over the Denver Broncos to kick off the 2023 regular season with a win. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was solid in his debut, completing 20-of-26 passes for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns to fellow newcomer Jakobi Meyers.
Garoppolo has come under a lot of scrutiny after the Raiders signed him to a three-year deal this offseason. Many wondered whether he was an upgrade over previous starter Derek Carr and his struggles to stay healthy throughout his career, including coming into this season still dealing with an injury, was a cause for concern.
But after his first game in the silver and black, Garoppolo seems to have already won over the locker room with head coach Josh McDaniels praising him as a leader and someone who will do anything to help his team win, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com:
“He’s a good leader. He’s won a lot of games in this league,” head coach Josh McDaniels said, via the team’s official website. “I think the guys in the locker room know who they have and what this guy can do, how competitive he is. He’s a very good leader. He’s a great communicator. Just does what it takes to win.
“Doesn’t care about his statistics or anything like that, it’s just ‘whatever I can do at my position to try to help the team win, I’m going to try to do it.’ Super happy that he’s a Raider.”
There was a scare in the first drive as Garoppolo took an illegal hit from Broncos safety Justin Simmons. But after sitting out two plays, Garoppolo returned and immediately threw that first touchdown pass to give the Raiders the lead, and that toughness stood out to Josh Jacobs:
“Man, he’s a dog,” running back Josh Jacobs said. “Any quarterback that’s willing to take a hit in a big moment to secure a win got my respect.”
It wasn’t all perfect for Garoppolo as he threw an ill-advised interception in the end zone in the third quarter. But he bounced back on the next drive, leading the Raiders to the game-winning score and then scrambling for the final first down to ice the game on the ensuing drive.
But in the end, Garoppolo showed why the Raiders brought him in and believed he was the right quarterback to take this team to the next level. One thing that is for sure is that the players in the locker room absolutely believe in him, and even more so after his first regular-season performance.