This time last year Stanford Routt was almost universally hated by Raider fans. Some of us wanted him to be cut, and some of us just wanted him to play as little as possible. I am sure he had a couple of supporters out there, but I don't remember one person saying he is ready to make the leap into the starting lineup.
Now there is a very good chance that Routt will be the team's No. 1 corner. And while I'd obviously prefer that Nnamdi comes back, I have no problem with Routt. Routt sat down for a great interview with Steve Wyremski of ProFootballFocus.com, and he describes the reason why we already know what we'll get when it comes to him being the No. 1 in Oakland:
As far as what you’re saying about the whole No. 1 thing, this is the way I look at it … You guys take all the stats and chart everything. A lot of people would look at the No. 1 guy as the one who is the best. I agree with that completely. You also may want to look at it as the No. 1 guy is the guy with the most workload. There’s no one that had a larger workload in our secondary last year than myself.
In a lot of ways, I think I was playing with the workload of a No. 1 corner last year. "Not exactly", but I think you get the point I’m trying to make.
There were times Nnamdi was hurt last year and I had to go match up on a top receiver, or even times where he wasn’t hurt. Who do you think the offensive coordinators sent the top receivers? Not the right side [to Nnamdi] … the left side [to me]. I basically was assuming all of those duties last year.
The Raiders don't have a No. 1 corner. They have two starters. Both guys play the same role. We've seen Routt on plenty of snaps against teams best receivers. He proved last year he can hang with anyone, and I don't worry about any assignment he might be asked to carry out in 2011. Jump over for much more....
What should be of bigger concern is the fact that Routt is losing some of the chip off his shoulder motivation:
Furthermore, playing alongside Nnamdi [Asomugha]hen you know you’re going to be thrown at because team’s stay away from him, it’s something you take as a pride factor. It’s something you take as pride and take a little bit as a disrespect and [you play] with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. It’s motivation.
What’s so weird and what I think people misconstrue or overlook is … I just finished my sixth year in the league, but in a lot of ways I just finished my second year. The only years I started were my third and my sixth. A lot of people were surprised by my catch rate and I feel like this year I really didn’t do anything special. I didn’t meditate before the games or do anything out of the ordinary. I just went out and played football.
I think what everybody was surprised about was how strong I finished within the rankings of burn rate and lack of touchdowns I got beat on. People fail to realize that I never really started other than my 3rd year in 2007. When people are surprised at how [I] did this year … what were they comparing it to? I went a whole two years without starting. That’s how it goes, though.
Routt obviously has a little spite motivation fueling him. Now that he has a big contract and is almost guaranteed a starting spot is he going to lose focus or determination?
I think he he is competitive and ego driven enough that this won't be a problem.
I don’t think there is any corner in this league that’s better than me flat out. I think there’s corners more experienced and that get more recognition, but I don’t think there are any that are better than me. I don’t think I’m the best corner in the game just yet, but I don’t think there’s anyone that’s better than me. I would never bet against myself. That’s probably the best way I’d put it.
It's not just blind cockiness either. Routt takes getting beat for a catch personally. Wyremski asked Routt which games he thought were his best in 2010, and Routt took the reporter through every scenario of single catch he allowed for the entire 2010 season!
Wyremski asked him how he managed to remember all of that and here was his response:
Trust me. Playing corner for the Raiders, your job is to cover. You don’t have to worry much about run responsibility and Cover-2, so it forces you to live in your own world when we play on an island as much as we do. You have to grade yourself on catches and touchdowns.
It really is a great interview. There is a lot more I could highlight, but I recommend just reading the whole thing.
I am confident in Stanford Routt. I don't expect him to be as good as Nnamdi, but I expect him to be among the better corners in the league. The bigger question revolves around the rest of the secondary.