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Are Raiders At Risk of Being a Bottom-5 NFL Team?

  • Justin Melo
  • May 26, 2023
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Las Vegas Raiders starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo underwent offseason foot surgery, according to multiple reports. Garoppolo is expected to miss OTAs as a result, but Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels remains confident that Garoppolo will be ready before the start of the regular season. It’s a concerning situation for a Raiders franchise that may be heading toward a bottom-five finish in the NFL.

Garoppolo’s muddied timeline adds a layer of uncertainty to his first-year projection in Las Vegas. The injury-prone Garoppolo has missed 31 contests over the previous four campaigns. It’d be silly to write off another surgery as no big deal. 

The Raiders are ill-prepared to deal with Garoppolo’s potential absence. Veteran clipboard-holder Brian Hoyer and rookie fourth-rounder Aidan O’Connell are the other quarterbacks on Las Vegas’ roster. Neither player can help McDaniels win games in 2023.

The Raiders signed Garoppolo to replace Derek Carr, who they released after a lackluster 2022 season. Garoppolo is largely seen as a less talented quarterback than Carr, but a better fit for McDaniels’ offense. Carr struggled to acclimate to McDaniels’ scheme, and Garoppolo is expected to make an easier transition due to his history alongside McDaniels dating back to their days with the New England Patriots. 

But all bets are off if Garoppolo isn’t healthy.

The Raiders had other issues to concern themselves with prior to the news regarding Garoppolo’s surgery. Superstar wide receiver Davante Adams recently expressed concerns over the direction of Las Vegas’ offense. Adams admitted he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Las Vegas’ front office and the transactions that transpired over the course of the summer.

One of the offseason departures that displeased Adams was the trade that sent Darren Waller to the New York Giants. Like Carr, Waller wasn’t an ideal fit for McDaniels’ system. If McDaniels is going down, he’s going down having coached the Raiders in his vision.

McDaniels’ Raiders weren’t equipped to meet last season’s lofty expectations. The wheels quickly fell off with the Raiders jumping out to a lackluster 0-3 start. The Raiders finished 6-11 and missed the postseason.

The Raiders finished just outside the bottom five last season and clinched the No. 7 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. General manager Dave Ziegler selected former Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson with that pick.

The team-related issues listed above could lead to an even worse campaign in 2023. The Raiders play in arguably the league’s most competitive division in football. The AFC West failed to meet that projection, but the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, and Denver Broncos all got better this offseason.

The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are perennial contenders. The Chargers made a shrewd hire by appointing Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator. Moore should help Justin Herbert take the desired step forward. The Broncos are teetering the danger line as well, but head coach Sean Payton should help Russell Wilson put last year’s disaster behind him. The Raiders are comfortably the worst team in the division.

McDaniels is entering a do-or-die season. It’s a critical campaign to determine the future of the Raiders franchise. Garoppolo’s surgery offers more adversity in an offseason that’s been littered with unwanted storylines. The Raiders may be a bottom-five team in 2023.

Written By

Justin Melo