“He’s earned that right”: Antonio Pierce backs Aidan O’Connell to compete for Raiders QB1 position

The Las Vegas Raiders’ appointment of Antonio Pierce as head coach marked a turning point for the team. He stepped in for Josh McDaniels, and ignited a resurgence by steering the team to a 5-4 record from a shaky 3-5 start.

Now, with the departure of Jimmy Garoppolo, Pierce faces the task of solidifying the offensive line. Rookie Aidan O’Connell has emerged as a promising replacement for Garoppolo while an intense competition with newly signed Gardner Minshew is likely to arise.

Aidan O’Connell receives Antonio Pierce’s support to compete for QB1

Antonio Pierce has thrown his full support behind Aidan O’Connell as the team’s starting quarterback. The Raiders hold the No. 13 pick in the draft, which could potentially be used to select a quarterback from a pool of six high-level prospects. However, their coaching staff remains steadfast in their commitment to O’Connell.

Pierce’s admiration for O’Connell’s mental toughness and on-field prowess proves the confidence he has in the young quarterback’s ability to lead the team.

“At the end of the day, listen, Aidan O’Connell played his ass off. He did a helluva job for us. You’re talking about a kid that has the mental toughness to play in the National Football League. Whatever happens and whatever we do it has to go through Aidan O’Connell. Being honest with you because he’s earned that right,” Pierce said.

The addition of Gardner Minshew to the quarterback mix intensified the competition. But Pierce emphasized the importance of fostering a competitive environment within the quarterback room to elevate the team’s performance overall.

The Raiders HC also referred to the expertise of general manager Tom Telesco, trusting his track record in identifying and developing top-tier quarterbacks. Whether the Raiders opt to trade up for a coveted prospect or stay put to select from the available talent, Pierce remains confident in Telesco’s decision-making prowess when it comes to quarterback acquisitions.

Comparing Aidan O’Connell’s numbers with Gardner Minshew II

Aidan O’Connell, a fourth-round pick by the Raiders in the 2023 draft, found himself thrust into the starting role midway through his rookie season. He was tasked with rejuvenating a struggling squad and managed a commendable 5-5 record in his 10 starts.

The young star’s stat line was not greatly eye-popping, but showcased promise, with 2,218 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. His leadership guided the Raiders to a notable victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Aidan O'Connell
via Pro Football Network

Meanwhile, Minshew, known for his distinctive mustache, brought experience and stability to the quarterback position. He was signed to a lucrative two-year deal by the Raiders. The QB boasted 37 career starts, including a noteworthy stint with the Indianapolis Colts in the previous season.

Despite joining the Colts midway through the campaign, Minshew’s impact was palpable, as he recorded 3,305 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 13 starts. His leadership propelled the Colts to a commendable 9-8 record, narrowly missing out on playoff contention.


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Maliha is an insightful sports writer with over a year of experience focusing on the NFL. Initially venturing into both NFL and NBA coverage, her journey began without a particular affinity for American football. However, her passion for the sport blossomed as she started following football more. Now, a huge NFL fan, Maliha meticulously follows every development within the league. She always wants to ensure her analysis is comprehensive and up-to-date to fellow readers.


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