Jimmy Garoppolo is at ease just being himself while leading Las Vegas Raiders in 2023

Jimmy Garoppolo
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After the Las Vegas Raiders decided to move on from longtime starting quarterback Derek Carr, their search for his replacement took little time. Having guided his former team to a Super Bowl and a 5-2 playoff record, former San Francisco 49ers starter Jimmy Garoppolo emerged as the perfect fit.

Having started his career in New England with then-Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the fit made sense. Garoppolo was familiar with McDaniels, now the head coach in Las Vegas, and his system. The quarterback, when asked about why he wanted to work again with his coach when he signed with the Raiders in March, was clear on the reasoning.

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“For me, it starts with he’s very smart. He’s very smart,” Garoppolo said at his introductory press conference. “(He) Taught me the game of football basically in the NFL. But he cares, too, about the game. He cares about winning…Josh, he’ll push you, but you appreciate it in the end.”

This week, when asked about the maturation of Jimmy Garoppolo as a player and a leader, McDaniels had high praise.

“I’ve been around him when he was younger, and now he’s obviously he’s got some experience and wisdom about him,” McDaniels said from West Virginia where the Las Vegas Raiders are practicing in preparation for Sunday’s game in Buffalo. “He cares about practicing the right way, wants his teammates to do well, doesn’t care about his own individual statistics, takes accountability when he does something wrong…I think he’s a stand-up guy. I think he’s already earned the respect of our team, and he’ll continue to try to do that.”

Jimmy Garoppolo again popular in the locker room

Jimmy Garoppolo
Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Universal feedback from his time in San Francisco indicates a high level of respect and likability in the locker room. While subdued when speaking to the media, he’s known as highly personable with his teammates, leading through example and hard work. Garoppolo is no pushover, though, but handles his team business in private which is why he’s so respected.

Having won his first game as the team’s offensive field general, when Jimmy Garoppolo was asked about his leadership style, reiterated he just relies on being his authentic self as to how he wins over his teammates.

“Just being myself. I think trying to set the example by what you do, not exactly by what you say,” he said. “You’ve got to show the guys that you’re willing to do it, and I think that’s the best way to do it.”

His transition in leading the Raiders offense, and being a leader on the team overall, has been seamless helped immensely by going into battle with his teammates.

“Having a live game now (with the Raiders), being out there with the guys in the huddle, you get to see what guys are made of, see in those big moments, you look in a guy’s eyes and you see who wants it and thinks like that. It’s just the way we’re growing right now,” Garoppolo said.

Garoppolo was efficient in leading the Raiders to a 17-16 win over Denver on Sunday. He finished 20-of-26 for 200 yards and two touchdowns.

Jimmy G on learning to lead

jimmy garoppolo
Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

In the NFL, the quarterback, the most important and visible position in the game, is expected to be a natural leader. The quarterback is often thought to be a natural leader who inherently leads through words and action.

For Jimmy Garoppolo, who was selected by the Patriots 62nd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Eastern Illinois, leading has been something he’s grown at through experience. Is that experience — and some of the unique challenges he’s faced in his career — what has molded him into who he is today?

“I think – I didn’t grow up playing quarterback. I think it’s kind of something that you learn
throughout your experiences.” Garoppolo said. “Everyone’s a little different. Everyone kind of does it their own way. You don’t want to be fake with it though, that’s one thing I’ve learned. You have to be yourself. You have to be real, and let these guys know who you are. They’ll see through the fakeness.”

Teammate Davante Adams was asked to describe Garoppolo’s leadership style and echoed those sentiments. How would one of the game’s best wide receivers describe his new quarterback?

“How would I describe him? I would say he leads by example. I mean, he’s not going to tell you
to do anything that he wouldn’t do,” Adams said Wednesday. “And I mean, he’s the type of guy that you wouldn’t mind getting behind because you can kind of feel that passion and that fire, especially in the moment.”

For a team with explosive offensive weapons and a defense under construction, Garoppolo’s leadership style might just be exactly what the doctor ordered.

“Jimmy’s got great mental toughness,” McDaniels said after the Denver win. “You’ve got to have a short memory if you want to play quarterback in this league and win games in the fourth quarter…I love his grit and toughness.”

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