Antonio Pierce: We didn’t lose that game because of Aidan O’Connell
The Raiders played a close game against the Dolphins on Sunday, but still ultimately came away with a 20-13 loss to put the team’s record at 5-6.
While rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell had some bright spots, he finished the game 24-of-41 for 271 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. All three picks came in the second half with two of them ending Las Vegas’ last two drives when the Raiders could have tied the game or taken the lead with a successful two-point conversion.
Interim head coach Antonio Pierce — who’s now 2-1 since taking over for Josh McDaniels — told reporters on Monday that O’Connell’s game was a tale of two halves.
“First half, executing, getting the ball where we wanted to — maybe a throw or two here we wish we could have and complete,” Pierce said in his press conference. “Then the second half, as we know, no need to press there. There were some situations where we were probably pressing. We’ve talked about it — it’s going to be, obviously, a great learning lesson not just for Aidan, but for myself in what positions we put him in, and how we allow the flow of the game to go, and not to have that kind of stress on the young quarterback.
“So, it’s a team effort. It’s a team disappointment as well. It’s not on Aidan — we didn’t lose the game because of Aidan, let’s get that straight. But Aidan does know he needs to take care of the ball. That’s the quarterback’s No. 1 job and we’ll get better at that.”
While the Raiders are still in the hunt for a postseason spot, there’s a balance between that and seeing what the club has in O’Connell throughout the rest of the year. Pierce said he’d like to see Las Vegas continue to rally around O’Connell.
“Look around the National Football League — a lot of young quarterbacks are playing. A lot of guys are struggling with young quarterbacks,” Pierce said. “Some guys are doing really well. And for two games we did well. And we had one half that didn’t go the Raiders’ way. And, again, as we talk about it, our leaders up front from Kolton Miller to ‘Dre [Andre James], Josh Jacobs, to ‘Tae [Davante Adams], they’ve got to put their arm around the young guy.
“Listen, we’ve all had rough days like that at the office, and not to point fingers at anybody, you can’t do that. It’s a team effort when we win and a team effort when we lose.”
As for the overall evaluation of O’Connell, Pierce referenced the fact that his future with the Raiders is unknown beyond the rest of this season, too.
“We have six more games left, so we’ll find out in six more,” Pierce said. “And then, you know, we’ll see what happens with AP in 2024.”