As always, there is a downside to every game, and here are three players whose stock is trending down following their performance in Sunday’s game.
Time and again, if there is one player who is criticized more than any other on this team, right or wrong, it has been fifth-year cornerback D.J. Hayden.
Now, I will admit that this posting comes with one caveat, in that when Hayden lined up in the box with only run responsibilities, he excelled, making two very key plays in that regard. But as we’ve seen so may times in the past, Hayden was absolutely clueless in coverage.
On the above play — one of a few key passing plays in this game — Tennessee lines up in Trips Bunch left, with Jace Amaro as the no. 2 receiver split out (middle receiver in the bunch).
In tight man coverage, Hayden sticks in the beginning of the route, but on the inside break, begins to lose trail.
Instead of reading his man (again, he’s in *MAN* coverage), he bails to the flat, where there are already two other DB’s covering a single WR, allowing Amaro run free down the field.
These are rookie mistakes from the longest tenured member of Oakland’s secondary. It’s a safe bet that Hayden won’t be returning next year.
Now, before the uproar begins, let me preface this by saying that Menelik played very well on Sunday.
But that’s not the issue.
The issue here is the same as it always has been for Menelik, since entered the league in the 2013 draft — he can’t stay healthy.
Even when he is putting in decent reps, one injury or another pops up, and the question has to be asked; can we afford to rely on him?
With Vadal proving to be serviceable at right tackle, as well as the luxury of Oakland also having Austin Howard and Matt McCants, Menelik could be seeing his opportunities slip away.
Similar to Menelik and Vadal, it’s not what Heeney did during Week 3 so much as it was the positive performance of Cory James that put Heeney on the ‘stock down’ list.
After playing in more than 90 percent of the snaps in Week 1 and Week 2, Heeney only saw one defensive snap against the Titans.
For anyone who loves Heeney because he is an athletic player that flies around, it’s clear he has been very much a liability in run support and may be better suited at SAM, where he can utilize his athleticism.
With Cory James stepping up to the plate and having a very promising performance, we could easily see Heeney relegated to special teams work, especially if he isn’t willing to work at another position.
But expect Heeney to step it up in practice and push James for his job back. This one is far from over. A little competition is a good thing.