It was a tough loss, but while there’s no moral victory in the NFL, one can’t help but feel underwhelmed. The fact is, the Las Vegas Raiders defense played as close to a great game as you could, especially against a loaded offense. Regrettably, Bo Hardegree’s offense couldn’t keep up.
Aidan O’Connell, the Raiders’ touted rookie, continued to struggle while flashing for stretches at times. It was unfortunate considering that Maxx Crosby and Co. were far and away playing one of their best games of the year. Despite forcing turnovers, Hardegree’s play calling left points on the board.
Here’s the thing: if you were paying attention, O’Connell was the victim of inconsistent (sometimes bad) pass protection. When facing two stud cornerbacks, it’s imperative that you give your rookie enough time to allow for a play to develop. Again, O’Connell delivered at times; it just wasn’t enough. As far as the “conversative” approach, Raiders fans were likely livid with the play selection to close out the first half, especially when scoring points were within reach.
Interim coach Antonio Pierce, for his part, was protective of his offensive coordinator and rookie signal caller. While speaking with the media after the game, Pierce made it known that protecting O’Connell was the priority.
Pierce said he was trying to protect his quarterback by being conservative at end of first half. “Didn’t want anything negative to happen.”
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) November 19, 2023
A small but notable positive is that O’Connell is aware of his role—when the team loses, it’s on him; when they win, he can take credit as the quarterback. On Sunday, after such a heartbreaking loss, AOC4 conceded that he’s learning on the job.
For now, it’s onto the Kansas City Chiefs.
*Top Photo: Getty Images