Raiders News: Maxx Crosby Believes Aidan O’Connell Has Come A ‘Long Way’
Aidan O'Connell, Raiders
Dec 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O’Connell (4) throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders closed the 2024 season out with a 5-4 record, showing signs of life after a dismal start to the year under former head coach Josh McDaniels.

McDaniels and Dave Ziegler were fired midway through the year and owner Mark Davis decided to elevate linebackers coach Antonio Pierce to interim head coach before later hiring him permanently. Pierce did an excellent job leading the team as soon as he took over, and he was able to reinvigorate the offense by benching Jimmy Garoppolo in favor of then-rookie Aidan O’Connell.

O’Connell impressed the organization during the preseason when he showed clear aptitude as a passer, keeping the offense on track. O’Connell wound up appearing in 11 games and starting 10 of them, recording 2,218 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His best moment as a pro came against the New York Jets where he led a game-winning drive to give the Raiders a 16-12 win.

Although Las Vegas signed Gardner Minshew to compete with O’Connell for the starting job in 2024, Maxx Crosby has seen plenty of growth from his young teammate via Sean Zittel of Vegas Sports Today:

“Aidan has come a long way…,” Crosby said. “He’s starting to talk some s**t back, I encourage it. That’s what I want him to do. The best of the best…the Mahomes, the Brady’s…always jawing back and forth and standing up.”

O’Connell comes off as a player who is self-aware and confident, and so far, it looks like he’s letting his competitive fire show more on the field. Crosby has always enjoyed going back and forth with offensive players, and by the sound of it, he’s trying to get more out of O’Connell, who has a legitimate chance to start for Las Vegas in 2024.

Some pundits doubt the Raiders will be able to compete in a stacked AFC because of their quarterback situation, but the team appears well on track to prove them wrong. Whether it’s O’Connell or Minshew under center, there’s no denying that the silver and black are in a better position to make a run at a playoff spot this year.

Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew embracing Raiders quarterback competition

Both O’Connell and Minshew were unheralded prospects coming out of the draft, yet they’re both now competing for a starting job in the NFL. Although the two are in direct competition with each other, both players are embracing the challenge.