Yeah, that group that gave up the most pass plays over 20 and 40 yards in the NFL in 2016. Some of it was communication but most of it was just bad play. Cornerback Sean Smith gave up bombs over Baghdad and fellow CB David Amerson regressed from 2015.
In 2017 training camp, Smith is still getting charbroiled and was demoted to second string. But Amerson supposedly straightened up and has leadership role. Strong safety Karl Joseph was supposed to be back to full strength and doing well
Quarterback Derek Carr talked this week about the improvement communication in camp, saying, “They’re communicating. They’re on top of stuff, they’re there on every play with their hand right there on the receiver. I think that they’re poised to have a really good season.”
But I have to do my Allen Iverson impression and say, “We talkin’ about practice, man!”
One preseason game into the 2017 campaign, everything looks the same. Smith can’t cover the Arizona Cardinals’ first, second, or third-string receivers. Amerson gave up a touchdown and someone forgot to cover Cardinals WR Jaron Brown.
It would have been another TD if Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer didn’t miss him. WRs running alone down the middle of the secondary says they still miscommunicate. Without 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, there’s no pass rush.
But it shouldn’t be that easy for an offense to go down the field and score on an NFL defense. Joseph is the only one from that secondary that was as advertised. He made several key plays, looked healthy, and played with physicality in his time on the field.
Karl Joseph, coming down from the 2-high alignment with a head of steam is a thing of beauty. pic.twitter.com/raVv3f91IM— Ted Nguyen (@RaidersAnalysis) August 13, 2017
Watch KJ quickly reads run key and comes screaming down the alley to beat WR block and make tackle. Bob Sanders-esque pic.twitter.com/7NrDWGeNpK— Ted Nguyen (@RaidersAnalysis) August 13, 2017
Joseph is set to make a big jump to year 2 and getting back to full strength after a torn ACL in college is the key. Joseph talked about his journey back to full strength this offseason.
“Just being able to go through this offseason working in the weight room and going through OTAs, I feel like a new person,” Joseph said back in June. “I feel a lot stronger and faster. I’m not really timid like I was last year. I was kind of timid certain times to plant off that knee and stuff like that. Now, it’s just a thing in the back of my mind. I don’t really feel it, so now I’m just focused on football more than the injuries and stuff like that.”
The Raiders could really use their top two draft picks CB Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu out there. But if they’re not, at least the Raiders secondary will have Joseph.