AFC West QB Rankings: Where Does Jimmy Garoppolo Land For The Raiders?

AFC West: Where Does Jimmy Garoppolo Land In QB Rankings?

The Raiders find themselves stuck with Jimmy Garoppolo in a conference full of ascending quarterback talent. The AFC boasts the likes of Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, and Trevor Lawrence — to name a few. Unfortunately, things get even worse for Vegas, as it must contend in the AFC West, where Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert reside. Not only that: The Broncos have a Super Bowl-winning signal-caller behind center too, Russell Wilson.

Raiders Face Uphill Battle In Stacked AFC West

General manager Dave Ziegler ushered in a new era at quarterback this offseason when he released nine-year veteran Derek Carr. As the team’s full-time starter since 2014, Carr won 63 games and averaged 24 touchdowns to 11 interceptions.

Considering the slew of coaching changes during his tenure, Carr did well guiding the ship and keeping the Raiders afloat. While 2016 and 2021 made the Fresno State product look like a franchise cornerstone at times, the most recent 2022 season showed why he was no longer a fit in Sin City.

After boasting a strong 65 percent completion rate in his first eight seasons, the veteran quarterback regressed to a 60.8 clip last season. McDaniels challenged Carr with a completely different scheme, forcing the 32-year-old to make quicker decisions.

His seven yards per attempt ranked the lowest since 2017, while his interception rate marked the worst of his career. Furthermore, on the occasions Carr did take shots downfield, he rarely found his target. He completed an abysmal 33 percent of passes that traveled further than 10 yards. This ranked 44th among all quarterbacks.

Jimmy G is “bringing sexy” back to Vegas

The Raiders quickly found a replacement behind center in Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G receives constant blame for the Niners never getting over the hump during his tenure. He is a capable game manager that hits his layups and sells the play action well.

The concerns are not unfounded. Opponents regularly take advantage of the former Patriot when the playoffs come around. Teams dared him to beat them with his arm, and it never happened. His 60.6 completion rate and career TD:INT ratio of 4:6 highlights how often San Francisco won despite Garoppolo — not because of him.

To be fair, the playoffs are probably not the best way to gauge his value for the Raiders. Ziegler and McDaniels will try like hell to earn a postseason berth in 2023, but perhaps the regular season is a better way to judge Garoppolo.

In 57 career starts, the former second-rounder owns an impressive 40-17 record. Jimmy G has a career 67.6 completion rate, ranking third-best in NFL history for any quarterback with at least 1,500 passing attempts. On top of that, Garoppolo was playing the best football of his career before he went down with a season-ending injury in Week 13.

Therein lies the rub. As a regular-season quarterback, Garoppolo is as good as they come. As a playoff quarterback, he is about as bad as they come. A long track record of injuries further clouds Jimmy G’s projection for the Raiders. Let’s give it a try, though.

Where does Garoppolo stand?

AFC West Starting QB No. 4: Russell Wilson

Truthfully, I have no qualms with anyone ranking Wilson higher than this. After watching what I watched in 2022, I cannot do the same. The future Hall of Fame quarterback suffered the worst campaign of his 11-year career in his first season with Denver.

Granted, the Broncos were an even bigger disaster than the Raiders, which feels impossible but is true. Head coach Nathaniel Hackett had no business leading an NFL team, and Wilson knew it. The two never meshed, eventually leading to the firing of Hackett toward the end of the year.

Now, Sean Payton undergoes the task of reviving Wilson’s career, similar to what he did with Drew Brees in New Orleans. The problem: Wilson’s skillset is vastly different from Brees, which could result in another messy season behind center.

If Wilson and Payton develop chemistry and install the system, Denver has gobs of talent at its disposal. At age 34, the Super Bowl-winning signal-caller has to prove that he is the rare old dog capable of learning new tricks. Until then, I remain skeptical.

Raiders Go From The Third Best QB In AFC West… To The Third Best QB In AFC West

AFC West Starting QB No. 3: Jimmy Garoppolo

Next up is the man himself: Jimmy G. I touched on the things that make Garoppolo a reasonable upgrade over Carr, including increased accuracy and the willingness to take what the defense gives him.

Garoppolo is a precise passer in structure, showcasing an ability to dice defenses up from a clean pocket. He is cut from the old school cloth at quarterback, as he rarely chooses to run or improvise. In an offense coached by Kyle Shanahan, it is hard to blame the 31-year-old.

While McDaniels is far from Shanahan, the second-time head coach is a brilliant offensive mind in his own right. Reuniting Garoppolo with his former offensive coordinator in New England should produce immediate results.

Garoppolo is familiar with the system McDaniels runs, and the weapons in Vegas are not far behind what the veteran had in San Francisco. It is a toss-up between Wilson and Jimmy G for the QB3 spot in the AFC West. As foolish as it may seem on the surface, I’ll take my chances with the latter.

The List Continues…

AFC West Starting QB No. 2: Justin Herbert

The top two spots on this list are locks. Herbert would be the top quarterback in just about any other division in the NFL — but not in the AFC West.

Still, the Oregon product boasts franchise cornerstone traits and has the production to back it up. Herbert broke the rookie record for passing touchdowns in 2020 after being thrust into the lineup unexpectedly in Week 2 and currently ranks second all-time in passing yards by a first-year player.

Since then, the former first-round pick has been entrenched atop the depth chart for the Chargers. He narrowly missed out on a playoff berth in 2021 before leading Los Angeles to a wild-card spot in 2022.

Somehow the team lost that game to the Jaguars after holding a commanding 27-0 first-half lead. Herbert deserves his fair share of blame for the collapse, but this should be a learning experience for the young signal-caller. He will be a top quarterback in the NFL for quite some time — get used to it Raider Nation.

Patrick Mahomes is top two in the AFC West — and he’s not two…

AFC West Starting QB No. 1: Patrick Mahomes

After a recent clip of verbal sparring between Mahomes and Maxx Crosby surfaced, Raiders fans likely have a renewed hatred toward the Kansas City starter. Hate him or love him, Mahomes is inevitable either way.

Since taking over as the starting quarterback in 2018, Mahomes has earned two regular season MVPs, two Super Bowl trophies, and two Super Bowl MVPs. His 64 regular season wins highlight how consistent the Texas Tech alum is. Not to mention his 11 career postseason victories.

Mahomes is on pace to break virtually every record in the books, and fresh off his second Super Bowl title, it looks like this is only the start of an illustrious career. He will turn 28 years old in September, and at this rate, only Father Time stands in his way to becoming the best quarterback in NFL history — oh, and that fella named Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr.

*Top Photo: Steve Roberts/USA TODAY Sports

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