COMMENTARY | The Oakland Raiders' secondary has really come alive the last couple of games under defensive coordinator Jason Tarver and the leadership of veteran Charles Woodson anchoring down a youthful group of defensive backs.
As of late, the secondary has been able to come up with big plays in creating points from turnovers and making strives to become a ball-hawk defensive, but there is still much improvement to be seen and potential moves to be made.
One of these moves the Raiders should consider is making a personnel move in benching left cornerback Mike Jenkins. Don't get me wrong; Jenkins has been a proven starter and solid defender throughout his career. He has put up decent production in collecting 24 tackles on the year, but another player is in the waits of becoming a breakout stud to give the defense an extra edge.
The Raiders should heavily consider starting backup left cornerback DJ Hayden in Jenkins' place. Hayden deserves an opportunity to show what he can do because his production as a backup has been astounding and he's a better fit for the defense compared to Jenkins.
Hayden has racked up 20 tackles and one interception on the season with less series played compared to Jenkins. His tackle numbers as a back up almost match Jenkins' production and Jenkins hasn't recorded an interception since the 2011 season when he was playing for the Dallas Cowboys.
Hayden's playing style is more aggressive compared to Jenkins and helps the defense when it matters most in the game. The most crucial time in games this season occurred in the second half where the Raiders are typically hanging around and trying to pull out a win. The second half is where Hayden comes on fire with his ability to seize the moment. Hayden has recorded 13 of his tackles on the season in the second half of games when the Raiders need stops on defense the most. If Hayden started, his ability to finish out games by producing these types of numbers would help uplift the Raiders to wins in games that come down to the wire.
It can be considered that Hayden is able to put up great production in the second half because he's more youthful and athletic compared to Jenkins. Hayden is five years younger than Jenkins who is starting to show signs of father time's effects as his body is banged up from playing six years in the league now. Hayden also seems to be more athletic than Jenkins with his ultra-fast speed and extreme athleticism to fly to the ball and make plays happen by assisting on tackles.
Hayden's youth and type of playing style fits the Raiders' current defensive scheme where most of the players on their roster are young and have great athleticism. As a result, Hayden could potentially be an option for cornerback of the future so the Raiders should pull the trigger and start him over Jenkins right now. If Hayden is allowed to embrace and grow into the role now, he can build chemistry with the other young defensive parts that are already in place and the Raiders could potentially build something special for the future in having an elite core on the defensive side of the ball.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football