The Las Vegas Raiders, behind the strength of Jimmy Garoppolo, seized victory from the jaws of defeat on Sunday, as the Silver and Black won its seventh straight contest vs. the Denver Broncos. The game consisted of several lengthy, time-consuming drives, forcing the minutes to fly off the clock.
In turn, the Raiders only had three drives in the first half — not including the kneel-down at the end of the second quarter. It was more of the same the rest of the way, as Vegas only controlled the football for two “full” possessions in the second half.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Raiders Offense Performs Well In Debut
This fact takes some of the positivity out of the following statistic. The Raiders were the only team in the NFL in Week 1 to gain a first down on every offensive drive of their opening contest. Granted, even when we include the two kneel-down possessions, that is a grand total of seven drives.
Still, the offense did its job and deserves flowers for answering the bell. Jimmy Garoppolo did his best to serve as a steady hand behind center, often extending drives with his legs and pristine ball placement downfield.
Jakobi Meyers emerged as the top pass catcher for Garoppolo on Sunday, hauling in nine catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns before succumbing to a terrifying hit late in the game. Meyers has since entered concussion protocol, and Broncos’ safety Kareem Jackson should expect a fine in his mailbox this week.
Davante Adams looked like his All-Pro self while battling with Patrick Surtain II all day. Adams caught six passes for 66 yards, including a couple of crucial first-down conversions to keep drives alive. Four other players hauled in a reception from Garoppolo.
Josh McDaniels Still Has Some Work To Do
Although efficient, Jimmy G’s Raiders’ debut was far from perfect. Head coach Josh McDaniels went “Big Brained” during a third-quarter trip to the red zone. As a result, Garoppolo botched a snap under center before recovering it. The team got hit with an illegal formation penalty on the ensuing play.
Garoppolo then fielded the snap on second down, missing Adams after some sticky coverage from Surtain. On third down, for a third consecutive snap, McDaniels dialed up a passing play. This time, Jimmy G rolled out of the pocket and forced an ill-advised throw that was deflected and landed softly in the hands of the Bronco defender.
It is hard to deny how poorly McDaniels and Garoppolo handled that goal-line situation. But it shouldn’t be the only thing we remember from Sunday. Outside of that, the duo put together a strong opening week and came away 1-0.
Garoppolo completed 20/26 passes for 200 yards and two passing touchdowns. His aforementioned interception was the ugliest play of the game, no doubt. However, the rest of the performance, including a game-clinging run late in the fourth quarter, should inspire faith in Raider Nation.
But that’s not realistic. If you are a Raiders fan who bashed the decision to move on from Derek Carr in favor of Jimmy Garoppolo — Sunday likely did little to change your mind. I’m here to tell you: Move on; Jimmy G is the guy for 2023.
Josh Jacobs And Maxx Crosby Hype Garoppolo Up
Don’t believe me? Maybe you will listen to Josh Jacobs. The 2022 All-Pro was asked about Garoppolo’s willingness to pick up yardage with his legs. “Man, he’s a dog. Any quarterback that’s willing to take a hit in a big moment to secure a win; [He] got my respect,” Jacobs stated after the game.
Do you still want more? How about this quote from Maxx Crosby in the postgame presser? “It’s exciting to see. He’s a dog. We see that every day in practice. He put it on display today,” Crosby said about Jimmy G’s fourth-quarter first down.
Garoppolo’s play was up to par. The Raiders looked polished, even without the run game ever solidifying itself. McDaniels’ play calling was more questionable, but let’s wait to see what adjustments he will make throughout the year.
It is also worth mentioning that the Broncos are not exactly a juggernaut. The Raiders’ Week 2 opponent — the Buffalo Bills — is an entirely different story. If Garoppolo travels to Buffalo and leaves with a victory, it will be time to accept that he was the right move for this version of the Silver and Black.
As fun as Week 1’s win is, the true barometer for the Raiders will come against the powerhouse Bills. Jimmy Garoppolo, the ball is in your court after a mostly impressive debut.
*Top Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images