Keeping Jimmy Garoppolo healthy, of course, is a huge key for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2023.
Garoppolo, the franchise’s new starting quarterback, is well known for being a quality player and he fits the Raiders’ system. Yet, the risk is injury history. Garoppolo, who played in the Raiders’ Week 1 17-16 victory at the Denver Broncos in his first game since Week 13 of last season when he was with the San Francisco 49ers,
Garoppolo, who was huge in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s victory, must stay healthy. If he gets the protection he received from the Las Vegas offensive line for the rest of the season, his chances of staying healthy will be strong. Garoppolo wasn’t sacked and he got excellent protection for much of the game.
This week, Las Vegas offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi praised the offensive line for its work in front of Jimmy G.
“I thought they pass protected very well, like you said. No sacks in the game is obviously always a goal heading into it. But that takes everyone,” Lombardi said this week. “Jimmy did a great job of getting the ball out on time and stepping up in the pocket when he had to. I’m sure you saw some of those plays to end the game. And early in the game when he scrambled and pushed up, and the pocket was clean, and he had those alleys to run in. And credit to all those guys for keeping it firm and cleaning out the pocket when they could and trying to play physical against a good front in Denver. So, very pleased with the way they pass protected. Obviously, every week in the NFL presents a challenge in terms of defensive front structure and blocking and different things. Buffalo plays a different structure in terms of front than Denver did, so we’re up for a different task this week, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Garoppolo and the offensive line were also instrumental in the Raiders’ being able to run out the clock in the final drive of Sunday and game. Lombardi praised the complementary play that will be needed Sunday at Buffalo (Kickoff is at 10 a.m. PT).
“I think just overall execution in the fourth quarter, getting the ball down six points and going down there and scoring a touchdown in about two minutes and then getting the ball back,” Lombardi said. “Our defense – credit to our defense because we get the lead for the defense and then they get a big stop late in the game and give us the ball back with about five minutes left and it’s our time to try and go out there. And regardless of how we run the ball during the game or what it is, we have to go out there and try and execute some runs, eat some clock and get first downs really at the end of the day.
So, for us to run for a first down early and then get a third down conversion with Jakobi [Meyers] and Jimmy [Garoppolo], and then obviously get the third down conversion with Jimmy at the end of the game. I mean, as a coach, you’re extremely pleased with your guys for battling, being mentally tough and having that stamina to execute their job in the fourth quarter. Because that’s really at the end of the day what separates wins and losses in this league. Every game is going to be close. I know there were a couple of games around the league this week that were kind of lopsided for the score, but my man on the red zone network doesn’t call it ‘the witching hour’ for nothing. I mean, it’s going to come down to the bitter end and if you can execute your job in situational football. We put a stress and a big emphasis on that every week. And for them to go execute that, it’s very fun to see as a coach.”
If the offensive line continues to protect Garoppolo, there is no reason the fun can’t continue.