Las Vegas Raiders: Takeaways from the 2022 preseason and looking ahead
Jarrett Stidham earned the QB2 role with his efficiency
The Raiders found their QB2 in an unlikely way, and he may be as good as any QB2 the Raiders have had in quite some time.
In need of a backup quarterback heading into this year’s offseason, Las Vegas decided to bring in Nick Mullens. Raider Nation, you remember Nick Mullens. He’s the guy who had his first career start against the Raiders, throwing 3 touchdowns with 0 turnovers while completing 73% of his passes for a near perfect quarterback rating.
Sorry to make you revisit that memory.
Mullens has tossed 26 touchdowns with 22 interceptions through his career, posting a quarterback rating of 87.3 and a completion percentage of 64.6%. Even still, head coach Josh McDaniels found it best to trade a future draft pick for a quarterback who knew his system – New England’s Jarrett Stidham.
Given the trajectories of their careers, the chances Stidham would beat out Mullens for QB2 seemed slim to none. At least, it seemed that way before the preseason began. After all, Stidham has thrown 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions through his career, completing only 50% of his passes with a QB rating south of 50.
Even with the immense differences in their careers, the preseason would prove McDaniels knew what he was doing all along. With Stidham being the Raiders’ MVP through the preseason, leading the team to an undefeated 4-0 record, Mullens was eventually cut before the final contest even kicked off.
Let’s talk about Stidham’s unreal efficiency, and how he easily won the QB2 job.
I’m not going to talk about the fact Stidham logged a completion percentage of at least 66% in 3-of-4 contests, nor am I going to spend much time talking about how the former Patriot accumulated 3 total touchdowns without any turnovers. I won’t even touch on how Stidham proved to be a dual threat quarterback on a weekly basis. Instead, I’ll talk about what this all meant for the Raiders.
During the first two drives of each preseason contest, being 8 drives total (first 2 against Jacksonville, Minnesota, Miami and New England combined), Stidham drove the Raiders deep into enemy territory on 7 occasions. That equates to the Raiders coming away with points each time on the first two drives of every game, except for one single drive. Congratulations to the Dolphins for stopping a perfect 8/8.
6 of the above mentioned 8 drives ended in the red zone. Think about that for a second. That means during the first and second drives of a game, there’s a 75% chance Jarrett Stidham will march the Raiders into the red zone.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “It’s just the preseason”. Or, better yet, “He did it against backups”.
While the first part of that is obviously true, being this happened in the preseason, do not get that confused with Stidham doing this against backups. Cornerstone defensive players aside, Stidham went against starting units on both the first and second drives of each contest. Not only was Stidham this efficient, but he was doing it against starting defenses as well.
I know I said I wasn’t going to touch on Stidham proving to be a legitimate dual threat, but I lied. If there’s one critique Raider Nation shares about Derek Carr, it’s that he doesn’t use his running lanes often. Stidham, on the other hand, took full advantage of them. This equated to 2 rushing touchdowns in the red zone. A truly marvelous job by the backup in his journey to secure QB2.
Now, onto more general takeaways.