Raiders News: Antonio Pierce, Aidan O'Connell

Let’s Get Real About The Raiders Quarterback Situation

The 2024 season could be special for the Las Vegas Raiders. Keyword there: “could.”

Head coach Antonio Pierce has galvanized fan support since shedding the interim label and taking over full time for the Silver and Black. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is poised to helm the most imposing Raider defense in nearly two decades. Meanwhile, new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has plenty of weapons to utilize. The “Keepers of Allegiant” should be a trendy dark horse playoff pick when September rolls around.

That would be the case, if not for a glaring question mark at quarterback.

Gardner Minshew II Is The Latest Journeyman

Many were surprised when the Raiders inked journeyman quarterback Gardner Minshew II to a two-year, $25 million contract early in the offseason. While the sexy concept of trading up to reunite LSU star Jaylen Daniels with former coach Pierce ran wild across the net, new general manager Tom Telesco and Co. opted for what Antonio Pierce openly shunned in interviews: a band-aid.

You could describe Minshew II, in an NFL context, as the community college equivalent of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Sure, Fitzpatrick is a bit more of an educational scholar, but how adept is he at rocking nothing but a jockstrap in front of teammates?

Minshew II vs. Fitzpatrick Per Game Numbers

Minshew Fitzpatrick
202.8 YPG 210.8 YPG
1.2 TDs 1.3 TDs
0.49 INTs 1.02 INTs

*Career stats courtesy of StatMuse

The stats are eerily similar, especially the one that matters most; neither QB has a winning record for their career. In his defense, Minshew II has never been the opening-day choice for a roster as talented as these Raiders. Unfortunately, the narrative that has followed his five-year career rings the same at nearly every stop. It’s always a spirited start. Sadly, it also always ends by flaming out and concluding with an underwhelming record, 15–22 by our count.

AOC Is The “Humble Incumbent”

Same Aidan, new number.

To be frank, if second-year signal caller Aidan O’Connell fails to secure the starting position come September, it would be a major disappointment. The Purdue grad was far from spectacular during his rookie campaign; in reality, he was rather pedestrian. However, considering his late draft selection, the previous coaching staff, and the turbulent 2023 season, we should commend O’Connell for his efforts.

O’Connell would finish with a 5-5 record as a starter with numerous ups and downs. Even so, he gained the trust of the entire locker room in that process. By the way, those previously mentioned pedestrian numbers mirrored the output of Minshew II.

AOC (10 Starts) vs. Minshew II (13 Starts) in 2023

62.1 CMP% 62.2 CMP%
2,218 YRDS 3,305 YRDS
6.5 YPC 6.7 YPC
12 TDs 15 TDs
7 INTs 9 INTs

The disparity in yards shows how often Las Vegas relied on the run to help a rookie navigate the landmines early on. However, don’t expect any reins to be placed on O’Connell moving forward.

QB1 is Officer Farva’s to lose.

Raiders Risk Wasting A Strong Defense And Offensive Weapons

We began by discussing who could emerge as the true loser in this “mediocre QB carousel.” But there’s more to it than that.

Maxx Crosby leads a fearsome front seven that features big-ticket free agent Christian Wilkins along with up-and-coming pass rushers Tyree Wilson and Malcolm Koonce. You also have Robert Spillane holding down the linebacker position. As long as the secondary continues to grow behind midseason acquisition Jack Jones and safeties Marcus Epps and Tre’von Moehrig, this could be a special unit.

One could also argue that this is the most loaded Raiders have been at the skill positions in a long time. Wide receiver Davante Adams, a firm believer in his new playcaller (Getsy), will share the field with Jakobi Meyers and two insanely talented tight ends in rookie Brock Bowers and second-year man Michael Mayer.

Will AOC12 or Minshew II be able to utilize the wealth of options at their disposal? The defense will definitely allow them to do so. The rest will be up to them.

*Top Photo: Getty Images

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