The 2-6 New York Giants travel to Las Vegas for a Sunday afternoon game against the 3-5 Las Vegas Raiders. Turbulence currently permeates the Raiders organization as owner Mark Davis fired head coach Josh McDaniels after signing him to a six-year contract in January of 2022, general manager Dave Ziegler and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi this week.
Antonio Pierce - the former linebacker of the New York Giants and Super Bowl XLII champion - will be the interim coach for the Raiders, with quarterback coach Bo Hardegree assuming offensive coordinator duties.
Let’s look at what to expect from the Las Vegas offense on Sunday against the Giants.
The Raiders announced the benching of Jimmy Garoppolo on Wednesday morning. Aidan O’Connell, the rookie fourth-round pick out of Purdue, will start against the Giants.
O’Connell started Week 4 in Los Angeles vs. the Los Angeles Chargers. He threw 39 passes and completed 24 of them for 238 yards in a 24-17 loss. He threw a costly fourth-quarter interception that led to the loss but played adequately throughout the contest.
O’Connell also saw the field in Week 7 at Chicago replacing Brian Hoyer, who started for the injured Garoppolo. O’Connell completed 10 of 13 passes for 75 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Here are his two career interceptions, followed by his one touchdown:
The Raiders were down 7 points with just over two minutes to go in the game. This interception all but sealed the Raiders’ fate.
It’s a small sample size, but O’Connell’s primary targets in Week 4 were Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs. The former received 13 targets and the latter 10; both caught eight passes. Jakobi Meyers and Hunter Renfrow both had four targets.
This offense is inefficient, which is one of the many reasons why Mark Davis decided to turn the page. Las Vegas ranks 30th in points per game (11.9 PPG) and 31st in yards per game (268.3 YPG); unfortunately, the Giants are worse in both categories. The Raiders rank 22nd in passing yards per game (198.3 PYPG) and dead last in rushing yards per game (70 RYPG).
Jacobs had a career year in 2022. He led the league in rushing with 1,653 yards on the ground, and an average of 4.9 yards per carry. He’s only averaging 3.1 yards per carry with 408 yards on the ground through eight games.
The offense was stagnant, they could not push the ball vertically with Garoppolo at quarterback, and they lacked imagination, which are reasons why Jacobs is second in the league among running back targets.
The lack of innovation and creativity, coupled with a repugnant persona, led to McDaniels’ downfall. Although it’s not the easiest of circumstances, Pierce and Hardegree will receive an opportunity to mend the failed experiment that is the 2023 Las Vegas Raiders.
Hardegree assumed the position of offensive coordinator. Here is his background:
Hardegree primarily worked under former Jets’ head coach Adam Gase. He was with Gase in Denver, Chicago, Miami, and then with the Jets. Hardegree worked with McDaniels and Lombardi in New England during the 2021 season as an offensive assistant coach.
The Raiders offense is not bereft of talent. Jacobs proved his worth last season but is off to a slow start. Adams is a top-five player at his position, and Jakobi Meyers is an excellent underrated complement to Adams.
Adams has 539 yards on 47 catches with three touchdowns, and Meyers has 404 yards on 38 catches with five touchdowns on the season. Rookie receiver Tre Tucker has earned more snaps over recent weeks, but the Raiders have such a condensed target share that only includes Adams, Meyers, and Jacobs. That may change with McDaniels out of town.
Rookie tight end Michael Mayer has just 11 catches for 148 scoreless yards on the season. 27-year-old former Pro Bowl receiver Hunter Renfrow was phased out of the offense under McDaniels. His role could expand with the Raiders with Hardegree calling the shots.
Jacobs has 133 rushing attempts on the season. Zamir White has the second most carries with only 12, and veteran running back Ameer Abdullah is used in certain passing situations, but most running back snaps go to the former first-round pick out of Alabama.
For what it’s worth, the Las Vegas offensive line is graded top-10 in run and pass blocking, according to Pro Football Focus. Left tackle Kolton Miller developed into one of the better tackles in the NFL. The 28-year-old has allowed 11 pressures and three sacks on the season. Here are two dominant reps against the Lions from each phase of blocking: (Miller is No. 74).
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Dylan Parham, the second-year guard out of Memphis, plays next to Miller They are a formidable tandem, as Parham has comported himself well after a tough rookie season. Parham has only allowed 11 pressures and a sack this year.
Andre James starts at center for the Raiders, and he’s played admirably. He will certainly have his hands full on Sunday against Dexter Lawrence. He’s surrendered 10 pressures and two sacks this season. 33-year-old Greg Van Roten plays right guard. He’s allowed 11 pressures and three sacks.
Thayer Munford Jr. has started at right tackle for the Raiders. The 2022 seventh-round pick out of Ohio State has played well this season. He’s only allowed seven pressures and a sack. He did exit the Monday Night Football game with a stinger, which should be monitored throughout the week. Jermaine Eluemunor replaced him.
The Giants are traveling to Las Vegas and will play a team in disarray. However, one could argue their current state is a cure to the actual disorder that was the Josh McDaniels regime. Still, as much as I respect Pierce, a jump from linebackers’ coach to head coach is a massive leap, especially with a new quarterback and play-caller.
I have the utmost respect for Antonio Pierce...however, this is a TOUGH spot.— Nick Falato (@nickfalato) November 1, 2023
Teams in a normal operation cycle struggle with the truncated schedule of a short week. Pierce is making the jump from the Linebackers' coach to head coach on a short week. Massive change in…
Fresh perspectives could help the Raiders, who are still favored in this game on DraftKings by 1.5 points. The excavator used by the Giants uproot the earth in their loss against the Jets will grow tenfold if they lay another disappointing dud against the chaotic Raiders and their rookie quarterback.