The Las Vegas Raiders signed Jeff Heath to be a part of the team’s secondary rotation. Although we don’t know yet how many snaps he will get this season, he will definitely play an important role in the Silver and Black’s secondary.
Jeff Heath is one of the new contributors in the Raiders safety group
The Raiders had bigger needs on defense than the safety position. Nevertheless, in an effort to add talent and depth at all levels, they added Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath. The latter brings an interesting skill set with him. In addition to being the Cowboys starting strong safety the last three years, he was a steady contributor on their special teams.
Last season alone, Heat saw 161 special teams snaps, and could have had more had he not missed three games with a shoulder injury. Regardless of how much time he sees on the defensive side of the ball with Randall and Erik Harris vying for snaps, he will still play an important role for the Raiders.
Besides his play on the football team, Heath brings an intangible value to Las Vegas. In his latest press conference, he talked about his role on the football field and as a mentor to a young Raiders secondary.
“My role is just going to be to help the team anyway I can, whether that’s as a safety. Obviously, I’ll be on special teams a lot. At this point of my career, I just want to contribute, be on a good team, contribute and be a leader, help. We have a really young team, a really young secondary. Hopefully, just give those guys some knowledge, and help any way I can.”
The key to putting together a steady defense
In the same meeting with the press, Heath talked about some of the blueprints to playing good defense. The first one is creating turnovers and giving the ball to the offense, so they have more chances to score. He points out all good teams are among the leaders in takeaways year in year out.
“The number one thing that we need to do as a defense is creating turnovers. The best defenses and the best teams, teams that make the playoffs every year, they always seem to be leading the league in takeaways. That’s going to be first and foremost.”
The second one is a tricky one. Heath says the defense doesn’t necessarily have to be full of talent (although it helps). They need to put in effort in every single play, it helps eliminate mistakes and everyone can feed from the energy.
“In Dallas, we had some great effort defenses where it was kind of a mismatch. It wasn’t all first-round picks, Pro Bowl players. We had a whole different number of guys who contributed. Everyone bought into the system, sprinting to the ball, getting their bad intentions. When you do that, not only do you intimidate the offense, but you eliminate big plays, you cover up mistakes that might be made just because guys are running to the ball, and you’re getting 11 hats to the ball.”
The Raiders made sure not to add talented players but ones that could contribute to the culture the team is trying to build. If they do everything Heath says they need to do, they should be able to turn the corner.
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