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Raiders bench QB Jimmy Garoppolo, will start rookie Aidan O'Connell moving forward

The Las Vegas Raiders continue to make sweeping changes in the aftermath of Tuesday night's firings of coach Josh McDaniels and general manager David Ziegler.

Jimmy Garoppolo, the offseason's big-time acquisition, has been benched six starts into his tenure in Vegas, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported on Wednesday, per sources informed of the plans. The Raiders are expected to start rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell this Sunday against the Giants and moving forward, Rapoport and Garafolo added.

Interim head coach Antonio Pierce and GM Champ Kelly confirmed that O'Connell would be the new QB1 during their Wednesday news conference.

"We just feel like he gives us the best chance," Pierce told reporters.

"The guys are rallying behind him," Kelly added. "They are excited to watch him get his opportunity."

The move to the rookie comes with little surprise, given the coaching change and ineffective play by Garoppolo. The 3-5 Raiders can now use the balance of the season to see what they have in O'Connell.

The fourth-round pick already has made one start this season, in Week 4 when Garoppolo was out with a concussion. O'Connell completed 24 of 29 passes for 238 yards with an INT and took seven sacks in the 24-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

When Garoppolo missed his second game of the season due to a back injury, McDaniels elected to start veteran Brian Hoyer against the Chicago Bears. The decision turned out disastrous, with the veteran QB throwing two INTs and mustering just 129 yards passing in the blowout loss on Oct. 22.

With the poor play from the two seasoned veterans on the roster, turning to O'Connell makes sense at this stage.

When asked by Rapoport why the Raiders will ride with O'Connell, a source responded: "He's our best QB."

That's a stinging indictment of Garoppolo.

Vegas inked Jimmy G to a three-year $72.75 million contract this offseason as McDaniels' hand-picked replacement for Derek Carr. The marriage got off to an ominous start with the QB's foot injury pausing the introductory press conference as the sides figured out the health-related issues. The deal eventually got sorted out but foreshadowed problems to come.

Garoppolo, who struggled to stay healthy for stints in San Francisco, once again dealt with injury issues, missing two tilts and getting knocked out at halftime of another this season due to a back injury. When he was on the field, it wasn't pretty. The QB generated just one game of more than 208 yards passing and currently leads the NFL with nine interceptions despite significantly fewer snaps than other starting signal-callers.

Outside the comfort of a Kyle Shanahan offense, Garoppolo struggled to move the ball, airmailed a host of passes, and was easily rattled by pressure. Monday night's disastrous outing in Detroit, which included missing badly deep to Davante Adams multiple times, appeared to be the straw that broke the camel's back. 

Benching Garoppolo is the short-term move. The question for the new GM this offseason will be whether the club swallows the dead money on the QB's contract and completely moves on.

In the meantime, O'Connell will start his second game of his career on Sunday against the Giants in Vegas.

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