The Raider Nation is getting its wish granted.
The rookie is getting his shot.
According to NFL Media, rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell will start Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo was ruled out of the game Saturday because of a concussion he suffered last Sunday night in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A surprise: The #Raiders are expected to start rookie QB Aidan O’Connell against the #Chargers, sources say. With Jimmy Garoppolo out with a concussion, the assumption is that veteran backup Brian Hoyer would start. Instead, it’s the promising rookie. pic.twitter.com/Snh8JNWSYl— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 1, 2023
Garoppolo was listed as questionable to play Friday. He practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. O’Connell, a fourth-round pick from Purdue, reportedly received most of the first-team reps over veteran Brian Hoyer in practice.
In the end, the Raiders chose to go with the rookie to give him a chance to develop over the 37-year-old Hoyer who has lost his last 12 starts dating back to 2016.
O’Connell starred in the preseason for the Raiders and his intelligence, accuracy and composure were all impressive.
This is a good time to play O’Connell. The Chargers’ defense has been awful this season and they are expected to play without standouts, safety Derwin James and pass-rusher Joey Bosa. plus, many Raiders fans are expected to be in the stands at SoFi Stadium. So, O’Connell is set up for success in this game.
If the Raiders can win this game they will be 2-2 with two AFC West wins and just five road games remaining.
If O’Connell has a big game, of course, the Raiders might be tempted to keep playing him when Garoppolo gets healthy. Garoppolo leads the NFL with six interceptions. This could just be a one-time start for O’Connell but it could also be the beginning of a new era for the Raiders.
It’s a big day for the franchise.