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How does Aidan O’Connell fit in Luke Getsy’s offense?

Diving into the new offensive coordinator’s system and seeing if it meshes with O’Connell’s strengths

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Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Aidan O’Connell
Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images

While it didn’t come without a little drama, the Las Vegas Raiders have their new offensive coordinator after reaching an agreement with Luke Getsy over the weekend. With Getsy in place, now the focus surrounding the Raiders’ offensive pivots to who the team’s quarterback will be next season.

Aidan O’Connell, Las Vegas’ in-house option, is the team’s first prospect to dive into. But how does O’Connell fit into Getsy’s offense?

Using data from Pro Football Focus, let’s dive into the offensive coordinator’s background as the Chicago Bears’ play caller from 2022 and 2023 and as the Green Bay Packers’ passing game coordinator in 2020 and 2021 to see how that meshes with the quarterback’s strengths.

Play Action

This past season, O’Connell was at his best when working off of play action. He earned a higher PFF grade compared to traditional dropbacks — 70.5 to 63.2 — and had a higher rate of ‘big-time throws’ at 4.9 percent to 3.0 percent. Also, he logged only one ‘turnover-worthy play’ at a 1.2 percent clip versus nine at a 3.0 percent clip.

The problem was ball fakes only accounted for 22.2 percent of his dropbacks, 28th out of 45 qualifying quarterbacks (minimum 142 dropbacks). However, that would change with Getsy.

Last season, Justin Fields ran play-action 25.9 percent of the time (16th-most) which was down from 32.7 percent (seventh-most) the year before. With Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Getsy’s play-calling followed a similar trend with PA rates of 29.8 percent (14th) and 26.3 percent (18th), respectively, during the two years they worked together.

So, we can expect the Raiders to be roughly around the 27 percent mark when it comes to play action, which would be about a five percent increase from last season and play to O’Connell’s strengths more.

Areas of the Field

While the quarterback and not the offensive coordinator ultimately decides where the ball goes, the numbers below can at least give us an idea of what type of passes Getsy has schemed up in the past.

O’Connell is at his best on short throws (zero to 10 yards past the line of scrimmage) between the numbers. That’s where his lack of arm strength can be hidden and his accuracy can shine through.

Also, the rookie had 621 yards and three touchdowns when targeting that area, accounting for nearly 28 percent of his total yards and a quarter of his touchdowns this past season.

Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears
Justin Fields, Luke Getsy
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Fields spread the ball out more than O’Connell did in 2023, but Fields’ most-targeted area was also short yardage and over the middle with 68 attempts. Comparatively, that accounted for 18.4 percent of his attempts, while O’Connell’s rate was 26.2 percent with 90 passes to that area.

The year before, the Bears’ quarterback had even fewer zero- to 10-yard targets over the middle under Getsy. However, such throws accounted for the majority of Rodgers’ passes during both seasons he worked with the Raiders’ new OC; 87 and 91 attempts, respectively.

It’s also worth noting that on all passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage, both Rodgers (38.7 percent) and Fields (35.1 percent) had higher rates between the numbers than outside during their time with Getsy.

Clearly, Getsy’s offense emphasizes such throws which falls in line with O’Connell’s preference as 45.7 percent of his passes were to the middle of the field last season when removing screens from the equation.

Deep Shots

This is where O’Connell’s fit with Getsy falls short. O’Connell’s lack of arm strength led him to attempt passes 20 or more yards past the line of scrimmage on just 9.9 percent of his attempts last season, 31st among quarterbacks.

With Getsy, Rodgers in 2021 was the lowest rate of the two quarterbacks and four seasons we’ve been looking at, at 13.0 percent. Also, that figure ranked 12th that season, and Rodgers attempted the fourth-highest rate of deep shots, 14.6 percent, the year before. For more context, Fields sat at 16.0 percent (tied for sixth) and 14.1 percent (fourth) during the two campaigns he played for Getsy.

What’s even more concerning is O’Connell’s adjusted completion percentage (factoring out throwaways and counting drops as completions) on deep passes in 2023 is the lowest of the bunch at 35.3 percent. Fields’ 39.2 percent mark in 2021 is the next closest figure. That doesn’t bode well for the 2023 fourth-round pick having success in an offense that looks to push the ball down the field more frequently.

So, while O’Connell and Getsy could be a good pairing when it comes to play-action passes and targeting the middle of the field, the deep balls are where the quarterback falls short.