LAS VEGAS — There’s a great line at the end of an alternative version of the Beatles’ classic song “Get Back” that goes — “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”
If Jarrett Stidham is hoping to do half as well as John, Paul, George and Ringo did, he’s going to have to do a lot better if he hopes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Stidham was essentially given a two-game audition by the Las Vegas Raiders to see if he is the heir apparent to Derek Carr. He showed signs of being the guy last week against the 49ers. But Saturday’s Act II which came against the Kansas City Chiefs, didn’t go as well.
Stidham was betrayed by the Raiders’ porous offensive line, his star receiver dropping two touchdown passes that could’ve been caught and found himself and his team chasing the game from the outset after the Chiefs struck quickly in their first possession for a 7-0 first-quarter lead.
Let’s put it this way — if Stidham was an understudy on Broadway, he would likely retain the status quo. No starring role on the big stage for him just yet.
That said, it wouldn’t be fair to lay the blame for the Raiders’ checking out early in their 2022 season finale at the feet of their backup quarterback. The 31-13 loss to Kansas City, which gave the Raiders a 6-11 campaign, is a collective failure.
It’s the defense giving up big plays. It’s penalties that killed drives or extended them in the case of the Chiefs, who used a roughing the passer penalty on Maxx Crosby in the second quarter to keep a drive alive which had begun at their own 2 and culminated with an end-around run by receiver Kadarius Toney for an 11-yard TD to give Kansas City a 21-3 lead late in the half.
There was the good and bad with Davante Adams, the team’s top receiver. He had five catches on nine targeted passes for 73 yards and he eclipsed the 1,500-yard mark for the second straight season.
However, there were the two drops in the end zone which could have made the day better for both Adams and Stidham. There was contact in each instance and perhaps a flag could’ve been thrown for defensive pass interference. But both times the ball sailed through Adams’ hands, passes he usually hauls in despite having defenders draped around him.
There were times Stidham looked like he could be this team’s QB come early September. He seemed comfortable with the playbook. He appeared to be on the same wavelength as head coach Josh McDaniels. He made more good decisions than bad ones. And when he took off, he ran like a quarterback from those old NFL Films highlights from the 1960s. You know, the guy who lowered his shoulder and took on defenders instead of hook sliding into second base in order to gain more yardage.
From a preservation standpoint, that may not be a good idea long-term. But when you’re trying to show your coach and your teammates that you’re a competitor and you’re trying to win, Stidham should be praised for doing what he did.
I liked the way he battled, the way he hung in there despite the six sacks and the interception he threw and the dropped passes by his receivers. His numbers from Saturday — 22-of-36 passing for 219 yards, one touchdown and the one INT. He also ran for 50 yards on seven carries.
“I thought he did some good things and there’s plenty to learn from,” McDaniels said of Stidham. “Any young player in the NFL is going to learn. He learned some things last week and he learned more this week.”
Stidham said he was good in some regards and not so good in others. But he was ready to play these last two weeks.
“I thought we moved the ball well most of the game,” he said. “But we shot ourselves in the foot. My interception. My fumble. Those were self-inflicted.
But is he the Raiders’ quarterback going forward? I’m not quite sure. He did a respectable job in the preseason as the Raiders gave him control of the offense while keeping Carr in bubble wrap until Opening Day. And when he stepped on the field for the games that mattered — last week vs. the 49ers and Saturday against the Chiefs — he showed ability and a certain amount of moxie.
“Am I that caliber player in this league? Absolutely,” Stidham said when someone asked if deserves a chance to start for the Raiders or another NFL team. “I just tried to be ready for my opportunity these last two weeks and take advantage of it. Was it good enough? I guess we’ll see going forward.”
A lot will depend on who general manager Dave Ziegler and McDaniels can get to play for the Silver and Black. There’s pros and cons about luring Tom Brady to Southern Nevada. There are other veteran free agents such as Jimmy Garoppolo and Lamar Jackson. Stidham himself will be a free agent. The Raiders could try to move up in the NFL Draft and take a QB. So let’s see what happens in the coming weeks or months.
But we now have a baseline for Stidham, limited as it may be. And it’s not all that bad. Did he pass the audition? Guess we’ll know down the road.