Thanks to rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell, his team hasn’t lost a preseason contest yet. Are big things in store for Sin City? FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd and NFL analyst Rich Gannon gave their thoughts on this year’s Las Vegas Raiders earlier in the week. The two are optimistic about the Silver and Black, and so is Good Morning Football’s Mike Garafolo, who also punched his ticket on the Raiders hype train.
Speaking of hype trains, has anyone’s stock risen higher during preseason than Aidan O’Connell’s? CBS Sports published a stat that will have many of Raider Nation believing the franchise might have struck gold.
There’s a lot of news to dive into, so let’s start.
Do the 2023 Raiders resemble a past Super Bowl champion squad?
The Raiders are coming off a disappointing Year 1 under head coach Josh McDaniels. Still, that isn’t stopping many from seeing the potential of this Las Vegas team. While predicting how the Raiders’ ’23 campaign will unfold, Garafolo noted that Las Vegas reminds him of the 2007 New York Giants.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Yes, the ’07 Giants team won Super Bowl XLII and ended the New England Patriots’ undefeated season. What reminds Garafolo of that championship team when talking about the Raiders in 2023? The pass rush.
That’s funny to think about, isn’t it? We’re talking about a team who finished bottom-three in total sacks last year. But, the pieces are clearly there.
Maxx Crosby is one of the best at his position; there’s no need to convince people of that. Crosby is coming off of a 12.5 sack season and should replicate that in 2023 – if not exceed it. However, Garafolo believes Chandler Jones and Tyree Wilson will be the keys to a successful Silver and Black defense.
“I go back to a team that I covered that a lot of people were not expecting anything of, it was the 2007 Giants,” Garafolo said on Good Morning Football, Tuesday. “Now you can look back and say, ‘you’re going to compare the Raiders to a Super Bowl team?’ Nobody thought the Giants were a Super Bowl team coming into that season, but they had four pass rushers up front.
“So Maxx Crosby, Tyree Wilson, who just got on the field recently, had that foot issue coming into the draft as well. And Chandler Jones [is] looking to have a bounce-back season. How can the Raiders beat expectations this season? How can they be in contention? Those guys have got to play out of their minds.”
Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora led New York’s pass rush that season. Can the Raiders’ trio reach that level of play in 2023? All three aforementioned players have the potential to do so.
Las Vegas is in a tough AFC West division, with all four teams having playoff hopes. Their performances against the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, and Los Angeles Chargers will lay the groundwork for a potential postseason berth.
Can the Raiders replicate that pass rush blueprint from the 2007 Giants? Their first test will come in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos.
Is there no better quarterback this preseason than Aidan O’Connell?
Even though Jimmy Garoppolo signed a three-year contract with Las Vegas this offseason, it didn’t stop the Raiders from drafting a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft. The front office took O’Connell in the fourth-round as a potential quarterback of the future.
The 24-year-old might have missed the memo that he’s the potential quarterback specifically of the future. In his first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, O’Connell completed 15-of-18 passes while registering 141 passing yards and one touchdown. The rookie quarterback proved his talent by replicating his performance against the Los Angeles Rams. O’Connell completed 11-of-18 passes while recording 163 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Aidan O’Connell isn’t going to take “Jimmy G’s” job Week 1, but he can overthrow Brian Hoyer at QB2.
If these two performances aren’t enough to show how impressive O’Connell’s first two games have been, CBS Sports published a stat that only fuels the hype surrounding him. This preseason, 36 quarterbacks have thrown at least 25 passes. None have a higher passer rating than O’Connell (125.2).
So, Raiders fans, where’s your hype meter surrounding the rookie quarterback? Do these numbers and performances have you all in on O’Connell-mania? Let us know.