Raiders News: Aidan O'Connell continues to make waves

2 Raiders Preseason Games In, Aidan O’Connell “Mania” Sweeping Raider Nation

With two preseason games out of the way for the Las Vegas Raiders, “Aidan O’Connell mania” is now sweeping across Raider Nation. Though O’Connell has only six quarters of football under his belt, there is much to be pleased with. To be completely transparent and honest, preseason defenses are vanilla and non-complex. Geared towards practicing fundamentals and evaluating talent. They provide simplistic and basic looks for work reads and adjustments.

So, with that being said…

Grasping the Raiders offense 

The second half of the game started with O’Connell coming off the bench to a healthy roar in the stadium. In back-to-back weeks, O’Connell has gotten the offense off to a quick start when he’s on the field. Finding paydirt and scoring six points on his first offensive possession of the game.

Having an understanding of what head coach Josh McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi are doing is essential to any rookie quarterback’s development. At this point in his young career, O’Connell’s dedication to getting better day in and day out is working.

O’Connell has not been perfect, but what he has shown is an understanding of the offense and an ability to execute it. At a high level at that. When you have the bodies of work of Brian Hoyer and Chase Garbers to compare it to, it’s clear that O’Connell should be QB2.

Duke Shelley has quality outing in Raiders debut despite “the play.”

What’s the Raiders rookie got?

Decision-making is the best attribute O’Connell has displayed thus far. Has he been perfect? The answer would be no, and O’Connell himself would tell you that there were things that he missed. But when he makes a decision, it is usually the right one. At the right time, at the right place.

Armed with the fearlessness of youth, the rookie from Purdue University stands tall with quiet feet in the pocket. Often sliding away from pressure while maintaining his spacing inside the safety of his pass protection. Even the rush doesn’t affect him beyond his ability to avoid it or not. That means once he’s eluded a defender, he reassesses his options and makes the best available play.

Saturday’s game in Sofi Stadium against the Los Angeles Rams saw O’Connell make every type of NFL throw you could ask for.

The back endzone post with toe drag swag to Kristian Wilkerson. The lob to Cam Sims in the endzone, where he “mossed” a defender to click two heels to the ground and get six before falling out of bounds The intermediate laser he threw in between three defenders went to Keelan Cole in the center of the field. A few deep bombs to Tre Tucker, along with a 25-yard comeback, were thrown in anticipation of the break. The blitz-beating swing pass to Ameer Abdullah for a first down, on and on—you get the picture.

Does Aidan O’Connell have the makings of a franchise quarterback?

Before we make the mistake of crowning another preseason MVP, let’s be real about things. There are an awful lot of good things about O’Connell’s brand of football to work with. Perfectly fitting McDaniels’ prototypical preference for a system quarterback.

And that’s okay. Based on past performance, he is flourishing in this system, looking more and more comfortable and in command. When nearing the mastery level of this offense, O’Connell will be looking off defenders and throwing to spaces away from where he’s looking. Much like Tom Brady used to.

Having the ability to go from read to read and see the whole field continues to place pressure on the entire defense. Staring down receivers is a bad practice on so many levels. It leads defenders to the football, causing turnovers, unnecessary big hits, and injuries to pass catchers.

It’s early in the preseason, but Aidan O’Connell is leading the NFL rookies in passing stats. At this time, his ability to process and execute seems to be at a higher level than that of both the first and second quarterbacks drafted. Should he continue to stay humble and work hard, the sky is the limit for a former walk-on.

*Top Photo: John Locher/Associated Press

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