Season review -- Raiders DBs


Season review -- Raiders DBs

Sure, the loss of All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha was going to hurt. How could it not? But the Raiders believed enough in Stanford Routt and another pair of drafted cornerbacks that they thought they could get by. Instead, opposing offensive coordinators and their quarterbacks had field days against Oakland's secondary. Consider: the Raiders had the 27th-ranked pass defense, giving up 251.4 yards per game through the air. They also gave up a mind-numbing 31 touchdown passes. Only Minnesota surrendered more (34). The Raiders gave up 58 passes of 20-yards-or more, 11 of 40-yards-or-more and opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 81.3, which was only 22nd worst in the NFL. Still, the secondary was banged up all season, contributing to the free fall. A lack of depth also hurt.
Grade: F

SECONDARYStanford Routt -- Many fans scratched their heads when Routt was given a three-year, 31.5-million contract, with 20 million guaranteed. Would that not have been a good offer to at least throw at Asomugha? Then, after re-working the deal to clear some cap space, Routt had a five-year, 54.5-million contract, with the same 20 million guaranteed. Yes, that's No. 1 cornerback money. But did Routt perform like a No. 1 cornerback in his first season without Asomugha on the other side of the field? In 2009, Routt allowed opponents to complete 65.9 percent of their passes thrown at him. In 2010, it dropped to 39.4 percent. This past season -- 47.4 percent while giving up eight touchdowns. Plus, he was the most penalized player in the NFL, getting flagged 17 times, including nine in the last three games. So while he started strong, things came unraveled at the end. Not only for him and the secondary, but the entire defense as a unit. Routt did, however, have a career-high four interceptions.Lito Sheppard -- The two-time Pro Bowler and former All-Pro had seen better days. One of the last players cut by the Raiders in the exhibition season, Sheppard was re-signed on Oct. 31 -- it marked his fourth team in four years -- and started seven of the nine games in which he appeared. He would have a highlight moment here and there but the 5-foot-9 cornerback was victimized by San Diego's tall wideouts in the season finale. For the season, Sheppard had a 58.8 percent burn rate and gave up a touchdown.DeMarcus Van Dyke -- Oakland had high hopes for the lithe Van Dyke, the fastest player at the Combine, in drafting him out of Miami in the third round. Listed generously at 180 pounds, the rookie had trouble with the bigger, more physical receivers in the league. Which is to say, most of them. His lone interception came against Matt Cassel in the Raiders' 28-0 loss to Kansas City on Oct. 23. Van Dyke surrendered one TD and had a burn rate of 43.8.Michael Huff -- Coming off a season in which Huff was named second-team All-Pro, Huff cashed in at the bank quite nicely, thank you very much. The free safety inked a four-year, 32-million contract in camp, with 16 million paid up front. His body, though, betrayed him. Having never missed a game in his five-year career, Huff missed four in 2011 with an assortment of ankle and hamstring injuries. He did not have a sack for the first time since 2008, his two interceptions were his fewest in three years, as were his 38 tackles. Huff was charged with giving up two TDs and a 55.3 percent burn rate. There have been rumblings of moving him to cornerback opposite Routt.Tyvon Branch -- A seeming bright spot in the secondary, Branch was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl after a breakthrough season. He again led the Raiders in tackles, with 109, and his end-zone interception of the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez in Oakland's home opener was a thing of beauty. The strong safety's coverage skills also seemed to improve, even as he had a burn rate of 55.7 percent, while being charged with five TDs. He is a free agent and, along with running back Michael Bush, is the Raiders' top priority in re-signing for the 2012 season and a new coach.Mike Mitchell -- After a breakthrough sophomore season in which he was seemingly on the chopping block at the beginning of the year, Mitchell hurt a knee in camp and did not play until Week 4. And while he maintained a certain level of being an emotional leader, the safety-who-sometimes-doubles-as-a-linebacker struggled through an injury-marred season. He had 31 tackles in 13 games with an interception of Aaron Rodgers. His burn rate was 34.6 percent, and he gave up a pair of touchdowns.Matt Giordano -- One of the last players cut in camp, Giordano was back two days later and immediately made his presence felt in the season opener at Denver with a sideline interception. What the safety might have lacked in tackling skills he made up for as a ballhawk. His career-high five interceptions led the Raiders. And his 70 tackles were also a career high and were third-most on the team. The seven-year vet will also be a free agent. He had a 42.5 percent burn rate and gave up three TDs.Jerome Boyd -- Practice squad veteran who went back and forth this past season. Perhaps the safety's most memorable "contribution" was mistakenly running off the field in the final seconds at Houston on Oct. 9, leaving the Raiders with only 10 men on defense. No matter, Huff picked off Texans QB Matt Schaub in the end zone to seal the win the day after owner Al Davis died. Boyd had a 54.5 percent burn rate while giving up three TDs.Chris Johnson -- Endured injury -- he underwent a procedure in training camp and an ensuing infection kept him out of action for seven weeks in the middle of the season -- and personal tragedy -- his sister was shot to death and his mother wounded in Texas. Johnson was active for only five games before being placed on the season-ending ReserveNon-Football Illness list on Dec. 17. He had a 71.4 percent burn rate and gave up a TD in Buffalo that went right through his hands that, had it been intercepted, would have essentially sealed the win for the Raiders. The cornerback is still owed 3.5 million in 2012.Chimdi Chekwa -- Promising fourth-round draft pick dislocated his shoulder on the first day of padded practice in camp and was then shuffled between cornerback and safety before a hamstring injury ended his season. He was put on IR on Nov. 17 after appearing in four games and starting one. He was targeted 14 times and gave up nine completions, including a touchdown. He later underwent shoulder surgery.Hiram Eugene -- Remember him? The unsung safety signed a four-year, 10.25-million contract in the offseason only to suffer a season-ending hip injury in Oakland's first exhibition game. His injury occurred after the Raiders messed up the opening coin flip, saying they would "kick off" rather than defer. So they kicked off twice, and it was on the second kick off that Eugene's season came to an end. His absence on special teams was especially felt.

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

ALAMEDA – Eddie Vanderdoes knows his UCLA game tape is inconsistent. The powerful defensive tackle admits he wasn’t always at his best, especially after tearing his ACL in 2015. Before that, he was difficult to stop. Afterward, he wasn’t the same player. He doesn’t blame the knee.

He struggled with ankle injuries and weight issues in 2016, a lackluster campaign by his own standard. Since that season ended, Vanderdoes has returned to 100 percent. His ankles are fine. His knee is great. And he lost 40 pounds heading into the NFL scouting combine, preparing for a return to his old self.

The Raiders see great potential in the former Bruin and made him their third-round pick on Friday evening. The Auburn native was excited by the prospect, and believes the Raiders will get his absolute best. His voice was passionate, his determination clear even on a conference call with local press.

“I am going to be the player I was earlier in my career,” Vanderdoes said. “I had a bad season. That wasn’t me. That’s not the person that I am. That’s not the character that I hold. I’m definitely going to bring that to the Raiders’ defensive line. I’m going to bring that energy and I’m really happy to be an Oakland Raider.”

The Raiders will be thrilled if that’s true. They liked what he showed at the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting combine, where he showed traits that should translate to NFL production.

“I am definitely back 100 percent, very confident with the combine, the Senior Bowl,” Vanderdoes said. “I got my explosiveness back. I got my speed back, my athleticism back. I am definitely at the top of shape right now, so I’m ready to get back to work and show them the player that they saw on the film and the player that they wanted to draft and I’m also looking to turn even more heads and do things that some people might expect that I couldn’t do.”

That includes rushing the passer, being a consistent three-down tackle in the Raiders scheme. He might be a rotational player first, filling the void created when Stacy McGee left in free agency.

“He’s a good, active defensive lineman that we think his best football is in front of him,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He had an ACL (injury) a couple of years ago. His weight has been up and down. We expect him to come in here and be a real professional and work hard with (head strength and conditioning coach) Joe Gomes and the strength staff and get himself ready to roll. He needs to come in here and add depth to our defensive line and give us a little interior push.”

Vanderdoes believes he can do more than that if he does things right. If his weight stays down, strength stays up and he learns the system well, he wants to compete for a significant role as a rookie.

“I’m coming in expecting to contribute and play right away,” Vanderdoes said. “That’s the mindset that I’ve always had. I’ve came with that mindset that I need to be the guy to step in and do what I do and dominate. I definitely think people slept on me a little bit this past offseason.

“I love the fact that (the NFL) slept on me, I think that’s what motivated me every morning waking up, knowing that I get to prove people wrong. I think I’ve done a good job so far of that, and I’m going to keep doing as well being an Oakland Raider because I know I’m at the bottom again. I have to work my way back up.”

Del Rio: Marshawn showed 'authentic passion' joining hometown Raiders

Del Rio: Marshawn showed 'authentic passion' joining hometown Raiders

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have been focused on the NFL Draft the last few days, and rightfully so. Friday night, however, was the right time to ask about what happened just before.

The Raiders acquired power running back and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch. If he’s close to top form after a year away from the NFL, the Raiders offense will be tough to stop.

He’s a big physical rusher the Raiders were looking for. The Raiders were the team Lynch wants to finish his career representing. The Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum might be the town’s most popular citizen, someone who consistently gives back to the city he loves.

Lynch was downright giddy after formally signing with the Raiders, greeting everyone in the building with child-like enthusiasm. He got fitted in his Raiders helmet and refused to take it off, wearing it out of the building and the car ride home.

Del Rio loved the energy Lynch brought to the team’s complex, and believes that will carry on while he represents the Silver and Black.

“Authentic passion. That’s what I see,” Del Rio said Friday night. “He’s a homegrown guy. He’s extremely excited about joining this football team and being a part of the Raider Nation. We’re excited to have him.”

Lynch is a bruiser of the highest order, though some may wonder how effective he can be at 31, a year removed from professional football.

“There will be questions about how much is left in his tank, and we’re going to find out,” Del Rio said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone else be more excited, more pleased to be joining a team, my team, our team.”

Del Rio understands where Lynch is coming from. The Hayward native longed to be a Raider at some point in his career, but never got the chance.

I told him he was lucky, because I didn’t get a chance to do that as player. I wanted to finish here as a player too. He’s getting that chance and he’s fired up about it.

“He’s a big man, and he plays with the violence that we like and appreciate. I think he’ll look forward to running behind (the Raiders offensive line) and those guys up front.”