You don't hear much about the job Tyvon Branch does in coverage for the Raiders. In fact, in my experience I hear talk of the coverage skills (or lack thereof) with regard to just about every other member of the Raiders secondary and linebacker corps. Even Branch's backup Mike Mitchell gets loads of credit for his coverage skills on tight ends though we rarely actually see him on the field.
Well, Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson saw something different. And to illustrate this, he went back to the Raiders and Branch's performance against Patriots' All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski when the two teams matched up last season. Here is some of what he had to say.
Rob Gronkowski's 2011 performance set all-time NFL records for a tight end for yardage (1,327) and touchdowns (17). He was one of the league's most dominant forces and had such an impressive season that he ranked sixth in the PFF Top 101 players list.
When he played the Oakland Raiders in Week 4 he was held to a single catch for 15 yards largely by the work of Tyvon Branch, who shut Gronkowski down like nobody else was able to manage all season. We took a look at Branch in a recent Secret Superstar article and noted how well he had played Gronkowski as well as other receiving tight ends, and decided to investigate further. So, just how did he do it?
Click here to find out.
Currently the Raiders and Branch are trying to come to terms on a long term deal. He is the Raiders franchise player this season and a long term deal would not only keep their leading tackler and one of their best defenders (as evidenced here) a Raider for a long time, it would lower their salary cap burden this season.
Both sides would like to get a deal done. And in light of this study, there are probably quite a few other teams who would love to get their hands on this strong safety. The Raiders can't let that happen.