This past Sunday, the Las Vegas Raiders faced their toughest task so far in the 2023 NFL season, going up against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Playing the Chiefs has been a nightmare for the Raiders franchise for over a decade, as with the loss, they have now lost 18 of their last 21 meetings against their divisional foes.
While the Raiders did fall to the Chiefs once again, it was not the quarterback play that did them in. O'Connell was steady under center for the Silver and Black, displaying outstanding pocket presence and timely throws, the kind of leadership we could come to expect from the rookie signal-caller going forward.
In fact, O'Connell was No. 1 in the NFL in QBR according to ESPN in the game against the Chiefs, so putting the blame on him is not a wise decision. Since stepping in at quarterback, O'Connell has proven his worth as an NFL quarterback, and the Raiders would be wise to stick with him the rest of the way.
Raiders need to lean on their rookie QB the rest of the way
Sitting at 5-7 at the bye week, the Raiders season is still technically still alive, as they have five games left to go to clinch a spot in the AFC Playoffs. They are going to need to almost win out, and get a lot of help, but the chance is there for O'Connell and interim head coach Antonio Pierce to stake their claim at being a building block for the future.
O'Connell was a Day 3 pick, so getting what the team is out of him is a gift in itself right now. The Raiders had Derek Carr at quarterback for years, and tried to replace him with Jimmy Garoppolo, but it has been the rookie who looks like he could be a long-term starter in the NFL.
Las Vegas has some tough competition out of the bye week, including games against all three division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, and Indianapolis Colts. They went on a run under Rich Bisaccia during the 2021 season, and you could make the argument that this team is better than that one in terms of talent.
O'Connell should have the keys to the car the rest of the way, and if he falters, and the Raiders struggle down the stretch, there is plenty of quarterback talent in this upcoming NFL Draft to make a move going forward.