Linebacker was the biggest position need for the Las Vegas Raiders this past offseason. Nevertheless, they also allocated resources to their safety room and added veteran Jeff Heath. Even though he didn’t have much of an impact in the first four games of the 2020 season, he had one big play against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jeff Heat made a play to help the Raiders seal the deal
Karl Joseph and Johnathan Abram were the starting safeties for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019’s season opener. While Abram kept his place in the lineup, the team parted ways with Joseph. Instead of looking for an in-house replacement or drafting a safety, the Raiders added Heath and Damarious Randall in free agency. However, they released Randall just before the season started.
Heath, on the other hand, was relegated to the Raiders special teams and hardly saw time on defense. In the season opener against the Panthers, the safety saw only three snaps on defense. The following week against the New Orleans Saints, things weren’t much different, and had eight snaps on defense. His playing time went a bit up against the New England Patriots and saw 19 snaps on defense.
Against the Buffalo Bills, Heath’s number of snaps on defense went down again, and finished with three. However, things took a turn and he played a season-high 30 against the Chiefs. He made the most out of them and recorded an interception, which he ran for 47 yards. Heath’s interception was key and ended up solidifying the Raiders’ lead over Kansas City.
The defense focused on execution
It’s not an easy task to take on a Super Bowl contender such as the Chiefs, let alone beat them. Nevertheless, the Raiders did precisely that, and that had to do with the mindset they had heading into the game. In a phone conversation with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Heath talked about the challenge that presented playing against the Silver and Black division foes in Week 5.
Heath said the team was aware they needed to play their best football and that it wasn’t going to be easy. The veteran added that they couldn’t pay too much on the score and needed to focus on execution.
“It’s just one of those games where you’re going to have to play all four quarters, they’re going to make plays but you just can’t blink you’ve got to keep believing, keep executing, and see what happens. Don’t look at the scoreboard.”
The Raiders’ approach worked and they now head into their bye week knowing they can beat anybody they want if they play the way they did at Arrowhead Stadium. Another big-time performance by Heath will be welcomed too.
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Top Photo: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press