Well, here we are less than 24 hours removed from the opener, and I have targeted my least favorite Raider.... His name? Tyvon Branch..
Tyvon sports the largest salary on the team for this current season, sans Kamerion Wimbley, who is now a Tennessee Titan.
Branch, franchised in the offseason is being paid 6.25 million dollars, or the average of the top 5 NFL safeties per franchise tag rules.
There is no way this guy deserves to be paid as if he's an elite safety.... I happen to be of the opinion that he's not even the best SS on the team, Mike Mitchell is.... I mean best pure SS.....
Branch, known for his speed couldn't stay anywhere near Gates, which is sad... Taking NOTHING away from Gates, as he, when healthy, is one of the league's best TE's, the "speedy" Branch was frequently outmatched.
During the last couple season's Mike Mitchell, the guy who experts say couldn't cover, absolutely locked Gates down..
I have watched every, and when I say every, I MEAN EVERY Raiders game since I got Directv in 1995, and I have seen Branch play every game he has played in the league.... The guy is backup material at best.
His only claim to fame is his tackle totals... That being said, we must be realistic.. When your defense is as bad as ours has been, the other team is running 60+ plays per game, they're not going to score on every down, somebody will record a tackle.
Branch isn't stuffing running plays... He NEVER does.... A good strong safety will be there for you, helping against the run.. You never see Branch come in and drill a RB, NEVER.
I'm not saying Branch is a horrible player, he'd be a good-great backup. Part of the problem, he isn't a natural SS.... His game is more suited to playing FS, the trouble there, if he can't stay with TE's who outweigh him by 30-40lbs, or 45lbs in Gates' case, how will he be able to lend any support against WR's playing the FS.
I am actually miffed as to why Mike Mitchell received 0 defensive snaps last night.. He allegedly is in the best shape of his brief NFL career, allegedly had the best camp of his NFL career, and doesn't see the field but on special teams... In Mitchell's 3 seasons in Oakland, in very limited time, has shown me he can cover better than the faster Branch, and we all know Mitchell is reputed for being a HITTER, something Branch and his shoulder grab tackles will never be confused for.
Last season, in the first 3 or 4 games, Branch was single handedly responsible for giving up at least 7 TD's... The guy can't cover, and his tackling technique leaves much to be desired, high tackle totals or not.... His tackles are of no substance... Big deal, you tackled a guy after he ripped off a 40 yard run, or a 16 yard run.... Try making a play in the backfield....
EARN YOUR $$ TYVON...