The lessons learned from Super Wild Card Weekend were aplenty. And one surely hopes the team’s stuck sitting at home watching other squads vie for a shot at the Lombardi Trophy were taking detailed notes.
One particular aspect of the truly wild start to the NFL Playoffs holds of particular importance to the Las Vegas Raiders: Quarterback play. Namely, a quarterback that can use his arms and his legs to take advantage of the opposing defense. That’s a trait that the Silver & Black will surely seek from its next signal caller.
Take what the New York Giants’ Daniel Jones did to the Minnesota Vikings in the G-Men’s 31-24 win. The Giants signal caller didn’t hesitate when he dropped back to throw. If nothing was open downfield, even his first read, Jones took off and he surgically carved up the Vikings defense to put New York in short yardage situations or gained critical first downs. All in all, Jones ran 17 times for 78 yards while lighting up Minnesota’s defense with his arm going 24 of 35 (68.5 percent completion rate) for 301 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite clocking in a 4.81 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine when he came out of Duke in 2019, the No. 6 overall pick ran away from defenders showing he’s much faster than his time speed says. So much so that Jones joined the Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson and San Francisco 49ers legend Steve Young as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 70 in a playoff game.
Talk about a career turnaround for the much-maligned Danny Dimes.
But Jones’ performance just cements the evolution the NFL is taking. With defense’s showcasing freak athletic specimens across the position groups, defenders have gotten faster and, in some cases, bigger. Meaning the quarterback must showcase similar athleticism. The days of the pure pocket passer are all but gone. And the Raiders would be better served getting with the times and finding a quarterback willing and able to use his legs as much as his arm to win ballgames.
And this brings us to another key trait that is a must-have for the next Silver & Black signal caller: Resilience. Now, this isn’t in the sense of physical durability, although that is also nice to have. This is meant for mental toughness.
Las Vegas’ next quarterback is going to be one that takes constant criticism and thrives in it. One that doesn’t wilt under pressure, but welcomes it.
This is the Raider Way that head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler installed in the desert. The championship-driven mentality is one that was transplanted from New England to Las Vegas — the Patriot Way, if you will. It’s a high standard that everyone is held to, regardless of stature on the team. No one is immune to getting verbally walloped by McDaniels and thus, the Raiders will need a quarterback that’s resolute in the face of getting a spoken smackdown — often in front of other teammates in meetings and practices.
Las Vegas didn’t get that with their former franchise quarterback Derek Carr. There were minor glimpses of it from Jarrett Stidham — who is an unrestricted free agent, himself.
Sounds like a tall task, no? To get all that in one quarterback.
But that’s what’s in front of the Raiders. And it’s a must-do if the team truly is trying to beat the class of the AFC West — Kansas City Chiefs — and battle for another Lombardi Trophy.