What indications do we have that this Raiders secondary as currently constructed can outplay last season? After all, it’s the same starters as last season. The easy answer would be another season like last year in which they gave up a league most 61 plays of 20 yards or more. But these guys are looking to make the answer a bit more complicated than that.
The only real change comes at defensive backs coach by letting Marcus Robertson leave and handing part of his duties over to newly hired former Chargers Defensive Coordinator John Pagano.
Mainly Pagano’s duties are with regard to communication among the secondary and his focus is on the safeties. The corners must take the explosive plays against them personally. This team didn’t reach 12-4 because of them, it reached 12-4 despite them.
“With our offense,” said cornerback David Amerson, “I think they’re gonna be one of the best offenses in this league and I think us as a defense, we know that we’ve got to step up to the plate and especially us as a secondary because, like I said, we’re playing against some top notch receivers and top notch quarterbacks in this league and it’s gonna be up to us.”
How we got here was a bit of a surprise considering how well both Amerson and Sean Smith had played the season before. Amerson was second in the league in passes defended in his first season with the Raiders and his play earned him a long term extension. Smith also earned a big free agent deal with the Raiders after several seasons as a shutdown corner in Kansas City.
It’s those seasons that lead you to believe that perhaps the fluke was last season. Amerson doesn’t see that season and being indicative of the kind of player he or Smith are or can be.
“Just giving up big plays, Sean knows he’s one of the better corners in this league and I feel like I am also,” said Amerson. “It’s just a matter of going out there and proving it. It’s not all talk, you gotta go out there and do numbers.”
“I feel like with it being our second year, talking about the secondary, everybody playing together I feel like we’re kind of on the same page. More familiar with each other, we know how we move, we know how to work with each other. I’m just talking as a secondary, I feel like it should be better for us.”
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr heard Jack Del Rio call out the secondary for giving up explosive plays just like the players surely did. To that he says “Of course they have a little chip on the shoulder.”
With pads now on, we will begin to see the chips on their shoulders play out on the field during training camp.