Julius Thomas to Cause Matchup Nightmare for Raiders’ Secondary
Former Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas has fallen out of the national spotlight without future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning tossing him the ball, but the sixth-year veteran still has enough tricks up his sleeve to fool the Raiders’ defense.
Frankly, most tight ends would get the best of Oakland’s defense regardless of what they have in their sleeves.
Thomas, a former fourth-round pick out of Portland State, has brought in 13 of 22 targets for 176 yards and a touchdown in four games this season.
Opposing offenses have had their way with the Raiders’ outside corners at times; however, they often target open tight ends both in the middle of the field and the flats, especially when running play action.
Raiders rookie inside linebacker Cory James and fellow rookie Karl Joseph have performed well when defending the pass after earning their first career starts in Week 3, earning above average grades in coverage, per PFF.com.
The same can’t be said for their veteran teammates.
After following his former linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. to Oakland, former Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith has failed to meet expectations, often putting together underwhelming performances both in coverage and against the run.
Former Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson has followed Smith’s lead, as the 2015 Pro Bowler ranks 75th among 83 safeties in coverage.
With that being said, Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olsen, the Raiders’ offensive coordinator during the 2013 and 2014 seasons, should look to get Bortles comfortable in the pocket early with Thomas as his security blanket.