Aidan O’Connell had one offensive system his entire collegiate career at Purdue.
The Raiders quarterback, who spent much of Monday morning on radio row at Mandalay Bay Convention Center, is excited about the challenge of learning a second scheme in as many years in the NFL.
O’Connell was drafted in April and needed to learn coach Josh McDaniel’s complicated system. McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi were dismissed midseason and interim offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree used a modified version of the scheme the rest of the year.
New coach Antonio Pierce has now selected former Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy as his full-time offensive coordinator. O’Connell is ready to hit the books.
“I’m new to the NFL and I’m learning every day,” O’Connell said. “I had one coach in college the whole time, so it will be fun to learn a new offense. (Getsy) had a lot of success with the Bears. They were able to run the ball very well, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The key question for O’Connell is how much playing time he’ll get in the system.
The Raiders could choose to pursue a quarterback upgrade this offseason. O’Connell is ready to accept any challenge that comes his way.
“It’s nothing new for me,” O’Connell said. “It’s what I went through in college. A lot of what you learn early in life on a smaller scale, you can apply on a bigger scale. I’ve been through this in high school and college. That competition makes everyone better.”
O’Connell stopped by the Review-Journal’s radio row set with wide receiver Jakobi Meyers as part of Bounty’s “Wingman” promotion.
Meyers was a good choice for O’Connell’s partner. He eschews the diva stereotype that can follow NFL receivers. He’s quick to praise his teammates while deflecting attention away from himself.
“I think that’s just his story,” O’Connell said. “It’s the way he is. He went from undrafted to starting as a rookie. When you see the consistency he brings every day, it’s not surprising.”
Meyers sent the compliment right back. He said O’Connell brought surprising maturity to the Raiders’ offense as a rookie fourth-round pick.
“Just how cool he was in all moments was impressive,” Meyers said. “I can’t say I was reading his mind, but his outside expression is always the same. This is a tough line of work to do that in, so I respect that whenever I see it.”
To the rescue
Las Vegas resident and “Bar Rescue” star Jon Taffer marveled at the growth of Las Vegas as a sports city from radio row Monday.
“I was one of the first ticket holders for the Golden Knights and I love them and to see the Raiders and now the A’s coming, look at where we are,” Taffer said. “For people who can’t envision it, there are close to 300 media organizations in this room. It’s unbelievable what’s going on in this town. We are a global city this week just like we were for F1. It’s such a great time to live in Las Vegas.”
Taffer said small restaurant and bar owners should be able to take advantage of all the people in town this week, but there is a great deal of competition.
“A great food offering can help,” Taffer said. “If people come in for the game, they are going to sit there for at least four hours and drink. Why can’t I see you a great steak at a lower price to get you in the door knowing they’re going to have five or six drinks while they are there? Being creative in food offerings and those kinds of things are the key.”
Raiders fullback Jakob Johnson spent his first day as a media member Monday.
He’s already mastered the art of complaining about his working conditions.
“I don’t know about the catering,” Johnson said, laughing. “Can we up the budget for our lovely media folks when it comes to the snacks and food?”
The German-born Johnson is working this week with several other NFL veterans from Germany. The goal is to produce content to spread the game back home.