On Saturday night, the Las Vegas Raiders announced that Jimmy Garoppolo would miss the Week 4 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. Garoppolo had been in concussion protocol all week, and while he did practice on a limited basis, he did not make the trip with the team to Los Angeles.
With Garoppolo out, head coach Josh McDaniels has two choices at the quarterback spot for Sunday afternoon. He can either roll with a veteran in Brian Hoyer, who has not started an NFL game since 2016, or he could go with rookie Aidan O'Connell, who took Raider Nation by storm during the preseason.
There are reasons to start either player, but the benefits from starting O'Connell far outweigh starting Hoyer. In addition, this is the perfect spot for him to make his NFL debut.
Raiders need to roll the dice on Aidan O'Connell
There is a lot to like about the Raiders starting O'Connell in Week 4, including the fact that SoFi Stadium is more of a home-field advantage than Allegiant Stadium has been. Raider Nation always invades SoFi as Los Angeles is still Raiders Country, so there should be a pro-Las Vegas crowd in the building.
Then there is the fact that the Chargers will likely be without two key defensive players in defensive end Joey Bosa and safety Derwin James. Those are significant losses for the Bolts, and would give O'Connell a softer look on the other side of the ball.
Hoyer is a 15-year veteran, but he has not started in nearly a decade, and was thinking about retiring prior to the Raiders signing him. He has been QB2 through the first two weeks of the season, but you gain nothing by starting him, as he will never be a long-term solution at the position.
If O'Connell is the future in Las Vegas, the Raiders must take every advantage they get to get him on the field in Year 1. Nobody wanted Garoppolo to miss time, but the truth is, that was part of the deal when they signed him, so the time has come for AOC4 to make his first NFL start sooner than expected.