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Las Vegas Raiders’ Aidan O’Connell is Tuning Out the Noise

Few rookie quarterbacks faced the situation Aidan O’Connell faced last offseason. O’Connell will again be the focus of the Raiders’ offense this offseason as the Las Vegas Raiders head into next season with an expected battle for their starting quarterback position on their hands.

There has been plenty of talk this offseason about the Raiders adding another quarterback through the draft or free agency. Most quarterback talk surrounding the Raiders assumes O’Connell isn’t a capable starting quarterback for the Silver and Black. However, O’Connell says he has a method for tuning out the noise. 

“Just don’t read it,” O’Connell told reporters on Monday. “Don’t look at it, don’t read it. And yeah, It’s definitely good to be naïve. I think ignorance is definitely bliss, and that’s what I’m doing.” 

As a fourth-round rookie quarterback, O’Connell was named the starting quarterback midway through his rookie season after starting the season as the team’s third-string quarterback. After being named the team’s starting quarterback halfway through the season, his first start came with his second offensive coordinator in his first nine games in the league. He was given one of the oldest offensive rosters in the league with one of the worst rushing attacks. 

The situation surrounding the Raiders regularly put the young quarterback in a challenging position during his first season in the National Football League. Still, he went 5-4 during his time as the team’s full-time starter and was a few miscues against the Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts away from finishing 7-2 with a playoff berth. One additional touchdown in either of those games would have ended the regular season on a five-game win streak for the Raiders, who would have been playoff-bound.

Still, O’Connell has spent this offseason reflecting on what he could’ve done better and plans to fix those things heading into next season. The second-year quarterback looks forward to making the necessary changes to be a more improved quarterback in season two. 

“I think definitely it depends on your role,” O’Connell said. “And reflecting, I definitely could have done a better job of that last season. And it’s hard as a rookie; my head was spinning, and I was trying to figure it out on the fly. And so, there’s aspects to playing quarterback more than just throwing the football and running the plays that are called.

“So, yeah, that’s definitely something I’m trying to develop and trying to be better at, and also just being myself and putting my best foot forward every day. I think definitely leading by example is important, but as a quarterback I know I have to be vocal. So, there’s a combination of things I’m definitely working on, like I said, and this offseason was a good time to reflect and work on those things.”

The NFL Draft will be held in Detroit, Mich., on April 25-27, 2024. The Las Vegas Raiders currently have the No. 13 overall pick.

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