A Year's Difference: Second-Year Raiders QB Trying to Play Offense Against the Work-Life Balance

Las Vegas Raiders' Aidan O'Connell has had to sync with a new offense -- and his first full offseason as an NFL quarterback.
Dec 31, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O'Connell (4) drops back to pass the ball  in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O'Connell (4) drops back to pass the ball in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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A year's difference has taken Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Aidan O'Connell from backup to spotlight -- mostly unheralded to potentially underrated. The second-year quarterback is no longer getting limited to no reps.

Now, O'Connell is contending with NFL journeyman and proven starter Gardner Minshew for the QB1 role, while learning a new offense from first-year Silver and Black offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. All while trying to lead a life off the field as a married 25-year-old.

"I think it's a hard balance," O'Connell told reporters at OTAs on Tuesday. "This is my first full offseason in the NFL, so still figuring out that balance but I do love football, I love to work at football -- both physically and mentally, all the things that go into it. So, I think I'm trying to find a good balance of, you know, spending time with my wife, spending time just with friends and family.

"But also, knowing that this is my job and this is the job that requires bringing it home with you. I've definitely not found that perfect balance yet."

Whether or not O'Connell might be "bringing it home" -- one place he is certainly "bringing it" is the field. O'Connell has excited quarterbacks coach Rick Scangarello with his arm talent -- along with seeing "the game the right way."

Getsy recently praised O'Connell's handling of adversity, citing his "willingness to be taught." Likewise, O'Connell commended the offensive coordinator and his new system's flexibility. It has allowed the quarterback to learn not just the offense but also his place operating it.

"Coach Getsy does a good job of even saying to us he wants to make it comfortable for us and wants us to feel comfortable when the play is called," O'Connell said. "He wants to know what we like, what we don't like, and at the same time there's a system in place and, you know, they believe in what they do. That's what we're all buying into -- what's being taught and trying to execute at a high level. So I think it's a balance of ... being myself and finding how I'll fit in this offense, but also understanding the systems in place to obviously, make yards, get first-downs."

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Michael France

MICHAEL FRANCE