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Raiders QBs, offense have tough day to open minicamp

Updated June 11, 2024 - 3:43 pm

Maxx Crosby and Christian Wilkins blew up two straight plays in the offensive backfield at one point the first day of the Raiders’ mandatory minicamp Tuesday, delivering an emphatic statement about the defense’s potential.

It was also a reminder of the changes taking place with the team’s offense. And all the uncertainty that comes with them.

The Raiders are installing a new scheme under coordinator Luke Getsy and trying to decide whether second-year pro Aidan O’Connell or veteran Gardner Minshew will be their starting quarterback.

That can lead to days like Tuesday, when the defense felt three steps ahead of the offense and neither O’Connell nor Minshew found a consistent rhythm.

“Growing pains,” is how veteran wide receiver Jakobi Meyers put it.

He might as well have been talking about the Raiders’ entire offseason program. It’s featured plenty of tough days for the offense.

It’s understandable given the circumstances. The Raiders’ offense has plenty to figure out, plus it’s going against a defense that allowed the ninth-fewest points in the NFL last season.

But that doesn’t mean all concerns should be brushed aside.

Better QB play a must

The Raiders need the offense to improve to reach their ceiling this year.

They failed to score more than 17 points in 10 of their 17 games last season. They scored the 10th-fewest points in the NFL. Several factors will determine what direction they head in this year. But first and foremost, the Raiders need better play from their quarterbacks.

That starts with either O’Connell or Minshew taking control of the starting job and never letting go. The last thing the Raiders need is for neither to step forward, forcing the battle to continue into the regular season.

“At the end of the day, wherever the chips fall, we’ll be straight,” Meyers said, expressing support for each candidate.

Will one push ahead?

The Raiders didn’t expect to make a decision this week.

But if they hoped one quarterback would nudge ahead of the other, that did not happen Tuesday. Both struggled to deliver on-target throws in rhythm. That’s a problem given accuracy and timing are important elements of Getsy’s system. The quarterbacks held onto the ball for too long on too many dropbacks.

It didn’t help that Crosby and Wilkins, the headliners of the Raiders defense, were creating havoc Tuesday. Or that left tackle Kolton Miller was watching from the sidelines because he’s still managing the shoulder injury that cut his 2023 season short.

There were some good moments. Cornerback Nate Hobbs complimented both quarterbacks for some of the plays they made, including a couple of big-time throws by O’Connell.

“He was throwing some balls (that) even as a teammate I forgot he had in him,” Hobbs said. “I know he’s got it in him. He was just making it known again.”

The Raiders need more of that. From either O’Connell or Minshew. Or both.

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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