HENDERSON, Nev. — Jimmy Garoppolo‘s introductory media conference last week was delayed a day, and the Las Vegas Raiders‘ new quarterback said the hold-up was because of “language” in the contract.
You couldn’t blame him if he was spending those extra 24 hours combing through his new squad’s roster, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, to make sure it was, well, real.
Returning All-Pros at receiver and running back in Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs? Check.
A former Pro Bowler in slot receiver Hunter Renfrow? Indeed.
And two incoming pass-catchers who are already familiar with coach Josh McDaniels’ system in Jakobi Meyers and Phillip Dorsett? True and true.
Yeah, it was all appealing to Garoppolo.
“I mean, whenever you’ve got skill position guys like that, the run after catch, I’m a big believer,” Garoppolo said. “And I think if you give them an accurate ball, if you got the right guys that can make a play, we seem to have the right guys here. So, we’ve just got to get working together.”
Garoppolo taking snaps will be a decidedly different look for Las Vegas. He’s replacing Derek Carr, the Raiders’ starter since his rookie season of 2014, and Carr only missed two regular-season starts because of injury in his career.
But Garoppolo is also expected to give the Raiders’ offense, which was the NFL’s No. 12-ranked unit last season (No. 11 passing, No. 17 rushing, No. 12 scoring), not only a fresh start, but a kickstart, given his familiarity with McDaniels and the scheme and the discomfort Carr had in said system.
Consider: Garoppolo’s passer rating as a starter with McDaniels calling plays is 119.0 compared to Carr’s 86.3.
Plus, Garoppolo’s career regular-season record as a starter is 40-17, and he has thrown for 14,289 yards and 87 touchdown passes with 42 interceptions in completing 67.6% of his passes in 74 games played. He has also played in seven postseason games, going 4-2 as a starter, leading the San Francisco 49ers to two NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl LIV defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs.
But Garoppolo does have an injury history. He missed 30 games with the 49ers with various ankle, shoulder, thumb and knee problems and missed the Niners’ last five games last season with a Lisfranc injury to his left foot. Still, Garoppolo had to pass a physical to sign his three-year, $67.5 million free-agent deal with Las Vegas.
“There’s probably not too many players in the league who don’t know who Jimmy G is, right?” Meyers said. “And then he played as a Patriot, so I know who he is, I heard a lot about him. I heard about his personality, honestly, and I feel like that’s probably the easiest thing, just a guy who’s cool, calm, collected. Because I’ve seen him have good days, bad days, but I’ve always seen him with the same smile on his face. So, take away the X’s and O’s and the talent, I feel like that alone will be fun to play with.”
The Raiders’ offense is as enticing as it is fluid, even with with last week’s trade of former Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller to the New York Giants for a third-round draft pick, which now gives the Raiders 12 picks in next month’s draft.
How’s this for a current starting lineup — QB Garoppolo, WR1 Adams, WR2 Meyers, slot WR Renfrow, TE Austin Hooper (who signed with the Raiders on Wednesday), RB Jacobs, LT Kolton Miller, LG Dylan Parham, C Andre James, RG Jermaine Eluemunor, RT Brandon Parker?
Still, it’s been a minute — six seasons, actually — since Garoppolo and McDaniels were together in New England, as Garoppolo shipped to the 49ers in a trade-deadline deal in 2017.
So before Garoppolo can start teaching the offense to other newbies in the program, he has to brush up on it himself.
“I was actually just talking to Josh about it,” he said. “It’ll take me, you know, I got to get my stuff down first before I could start helping everybody and getting us all on the same page. But that comes with the territory of a quarterback, I guess. You just got to do a little bit of everything, but I’m looking forward to it.
“We had guys, Philip was with me in New England. Jakobi, obviously had played in that system. So, there’s some familiarity. We just got to get it all on the same page, I think, and as quickly as possible.”
Meaning, no delays, right?