Rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell averaged 181 passing yards in wins over the New York Jets and New York Giants while starting for the Las Vegas Raiders. Wide receiver Davante Adams has been his go-to target, drawing an average of 10 pass attempts from the fourth-round draft pick.
Sunday marks O’Connell’s first game outside of Las Vegas, a trip to Hard Rock Stadium where he’ll have to battle a Miami Dolphins defense allowing an average of 190 passing yards over the last three games.
Miami’s defense averages 3.2 sacks per game, and limiting Adams may disrupt a rookie quarterback finding his rhythm in a road bout. With cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard healthy and in the lineup, who lines up across from the three-time first-team All-Pro?
Adams predominantly lines up at the left boundary, roughly 55 percent of plays this season. His presence in the slot has decreased significantly since leaving the Green Bay Packers. The six-time Pro Bowler played 30 percent of his snaps in the slot in 2021 — that’s dropped to 15 percent in Las Vegas.
The Dolphins haven’t shadowed top receivers this season, and Ramsey played 102 of his 109 snaps as the right wide corner through two games. Adams played more than 20 snaps on the right side three times this year — where he’d see Howard roughly 93 percent of the time.
Adams lined up at left wide receiver for 75 of 115 snaps throughout Vegas’ two-game winning streak. The Raiders found their rhythm with O’Connell behind center, and it is hard to imagine interim coach Antonio Pierce changing the script in the rookie quarterback’s first road NFL game, suggesting it’ll be Ramsey’s assignment for most of Sunday’s game at Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami’s blueprint is clear — forcing O’Connell into mistakes begins with disrupting Adams. It’s a challenge, but Fangio and the Dolphins’ look up to the task after holding Patrick Mahomes to 185 yards in Germany.