New Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo faced his former team in Las Vegas’ first joint practice against the 49ers on Thursday, and if his heart rate increased when he played against his old teammates, it was hard to tell.
Garoppolo started slow but played well as practice turned to the two-minute drill, connecting on 4-of-6 passes before throwing a touchdown to tight end Austin Hooper, according to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur and David Lombardi.
But more importantly, Garoppolo’s temperature didn’t rise. Raiders center Andre James said Garoppolo was “calm, cool and collected,” even in an emotional situation against the 49ers, a team he took to the Super Bowl.
Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said before practice that he wasn’t going to “overdramatize” Garoppolo’s practices against his former teammates. And Garoppolo was largely unaffected — center Andre James said after practice that the quarterback was the same “cool, calm and collected” character he always is.
James added that Garoppolo was the “same old Jimmy” against his former squad, per ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.
— Paul Gutierrez (@PGutierrezESPN) August 10, 2023
Garoppolo’s injury history is well known, and it’s clear he must stay healthy for the Raiders to succeed in 2023. If he does stay healthy, Garoppolo’s even-keel attitude will help Las Vegas tremendously.
Few expect much from the Raiders this season. If they exceed expectations, it’s fair to assume the road to playoff contention will be bumpy, due to suspect pass blocking, an unproven defense, or Garoppolo’s own shortcomings.
A stoic quarterback should help the Raiders stay the course during a long 17-game season. There’s always an opportunity to succeed until a team is mathematically eliminated. It’s best to not get too emotional, whether the times are good or bad. Las Vegas apparently has a signal caller who sets a prime example.
A competing example is the Raiders’ previous quarterback, Derek Carr. He was largely effective but arguably too dramatic, even saying he’d rather retire than play for another team before joining the Saints. He also fought back tears after Las Vegas’ loss to the Colts dropped the team’s record to 2-7 last season.
There’s nothing wrong with being affected by the intensity of NFL football. Overall, it’s good. But during an unpredictable, long season, it’s better to keep high emotion under the vest and stay focussed on team goals.
That’s exactly what Garoppolo did during the Raiders’ first joint practice against the 49ers. It’s a small sample, but it also matched Garoppolo’s reputation as a cool customer. His attitude will serve the Raiders well as they try to overcome long odds and inevitable challenges on the way to contention.