The Las Vegas Raiders have some serious questions at quarterback nearly midway through the season. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo has had issues taking care of the ball but has also missed time. The first time Garoppolo missed a contest, it was rookie Aidan O’Connell who got the nod, but Josh McDaniels turned to veteran Brian Hoyer last week.
The results were not great as Hoyer barely completed 50% of his passes and threw two interceptions in the Raiders’ worst performance of the season, a 30-12 loss to the Chicago Bears. Whether or not Garoppolo plays in Week 8 is unclear, but it sounds as if the Raiders have a plan if he can’t go.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Raiders plan on starting O’Connell if Garoppolo is unable to play in the team’s Monday night contest against the Detroit Lions:
“The Raiders are hopeful of getting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo back from his back injury in time for Monday night’s game in Detroit, but as of Tuesday, he had yet to be medically cleared to return to practice. Las Vegas’ first official practice of the week won’t be until Thursday, so there’s extra time this week with the Monday game. But if Garoppolo can’t go this week, expect to see rookie Aidan O’Connell in his place instead of veteran Brian Hoyer, who struggled against a vulnerable Bears defense in Week 7 and was replaced with O’Connell late in the game.”
As it currently stands, the expectation is for Garoppolo to suit up in Week 8, but as Fowler pointed out, the quarterback has yet to be cleared to practice. McDaniels and the Raiders have to have a plan in place just in case, and O’Connell looks to be the choice that makes sense after Hoyer’s showing in Chicago.
While O’Connell hasn’t necessarily lit the world on fire in his appearances this season, the rookie has had some flashes and does have the support of many teammates after a strong showing in training camp and the preseason. With an extra day to prepare, the coaching staff should be able to formulate a game plan to best take advantage of what O’Connell brings to the table.
This is an extremely crucial game for the Raiders, who sorely need a victory and, perhaps more importantly, just a good performance overall that can inspire some confidence. Hopefully, Garoppolo will be cleared and back in uniform, but if not, the rookie will have his first Monday Night Football start.