Jarrett Stidham earns the Raiders’ respect by almost angrily leading the 49ers

Jarrett Stidham earns the Raiders’ respect by almost angrily leading the 49ers

  • Sports
  • January 2, 2023
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LAS VEGAS — Jarrett Stidham, fresh off his first career start, which included 365 yards and three touchdowns, rallied his Las Vegas Raiders teammates and issued an apology.

He was sorry he couldn’t finish the San Francisco 49ers and their No. 1 defense in the Raiders’ 37-34 loss in overtime at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday.

“I think every single person on the team was like, ‘Man, get the hell out of there. You let off steam and did your thing,'” said Raiders receiver Davante Adams, who was on the receiving end of seven Stidham passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

“We have to find a way to help him – protect a little longer, catch a few more balls and get a few more first downs, get a few more points and it could have been a dream situation for him too. “

That was the bittersweet feeling in the Raiders’ locker room after they fell from at least 10 points to 6-10 with their fifth losing lead – leading 24-14 in the third quarter – to be officially eliminated from the playoff race .

Because while Stidham was also picked up twice — the first on a batted ball at the line of scrimmage, the second at OT when he was bumped by left tackle Kolton Miller while being pushed into quarterback by Niners defensive end Nick Bosa and Stidhams deep shot at Adams on the left touchline fluttered harmlessly into the waiting arms of security Tashaun Gipson – earning the respect of a squad that had only known Derek Carr as a starter.

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Carr, the team’s starter since his rookie season in 2014, was benched Wednesday and is by mutual consent staying away from the team for the final two weeks of the season.

But while Carr never really looked comfortable in coach Josh McDaniel’s freshman-year system, it’s the only NFL program Stidham, who opened on March 13, has.

Raiders tight end Darren Waller said Stidham taught players the scheme during OTAs and minicamps.

“When all were only learning things—what does that word mean? What does that word mean? – Jarrett …pointed the guys in different directions and acted with confidence back then,” said Waller, who caught three passes for 72 yards, including a 24-yard TD.

“So he knows everything – [the playbook] did not need to be watered down or simplified [Sunday]. He could jump right in and do whatever we’ve done.”

Stidham became the second QB since early 1950 with at least 350 passing yards and three passing touchdowns in his first career start, alongside Mike White of the New York Jets in Week 8 of the 2021 season against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Stidham finished his first career start with 122 more passing yards than any other Raiders QB, surpassing the 243 yards rushed by Todd Marinovich in the 1991 regular-season finals against the Kansas City Chiefs.

These raiders also lost that day.

“I just wanted to go out and play for free today,” Stidham said. “Try to facilitate the offense and [find] a way to win. We just fell a little short.

“Hard to end like this, but we have one more week here where we all agree on how we need to end the year.”

McDaniels, meanwhile, said he didn’t change his game plan significantly when he joined Stidham from Carr.

“Whoever plays quarterback for us is going to have an equal opportunity,” McDaniels said of the change in line calls. “When they learn the system and understand how to use it, they had the same opportunities. We didn’t really call the game radically different today than we would have otherwise. And I thought Jarrett took advantage of the opportunities that came his way.”

With Carr all but gone for next season, rumors have started that McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler, also from New England, will be pursuing another veteran QB already familiar with the system.

But while Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo’s storylines are heating up, Stidham might have given the front office something else to chew on.

“He balled,” said Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, the league’s leading rusher with 1,539 yards. “He’s balled up, man. He was calm and collected in the group…you couldn’t tell he was really a backup.

“It’s one of the best, if not the best, defenses in the league. So when he goes out and does what he did, I think that speaks volumes for his campaign as ‘The Guy’.”

The Raiders’ defense was also impressed.

“Jarrett played his ass off,” Maxx Crosby said at the save. “Dude is a competitor…I look forward to him kicking his ass off next week too.

“You see a guy like him super turned on and getting hype and talking his s— it’s cool. Yes, I have a lot of respect for him.”

It’s just one game of a losing season – the Raiders should return to the playoffs after finishing 10-7 last year and improving the roster and changing regime. But Stidham’s performance won over his teammates, along with his ability and willingness to extend his legs and roll out and take punches.

Like the big shot he took from Talanoa Hufanga and Samson Ebukam on his 60-yard TD pass to Adams, one of Carr’s closest friends since their college days at Fresno State and a major reason the receiver moved to Las Vegas came.

“I saw Jarrett just hold on to me, hold on to me, hold on to me, and I found a gap in defense and a way to get behind it,” Adams said. “He stuck in there and threw it.

“He came and greeted me on the sidelines with blood between his teeth. That’s what you want from your quarterback. I’m really proud of him. He’s a tough guy, man. He’s not the biggest guy and he stays there. He’s going to look for his people and find a way to do it.”

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

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