Oakland Raiders v. New York Jets: A Few Week Two X-Factors

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Taiwan Jones
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Taiwan Jones /
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Oakland Raiders
OAKLAND, CA – OCTOBER 16: Sean Smith /

Sean Smith

A lot has been said and been written about the trials and tribulations of Sean Smith. He followed up a rough 2016 campaign – the worst of his professional career – with a rough summer made all the rougher by an arrest on felony assault charges.

On the field, Smith suffered a demotion, running with the team’s second and even third teams at times. There was even some experimentation with him playing a linebacker hybrid to help cover the opposing tight ends.

But week one against Tennessee provided, perhaps, a spark of hope that Smith might be on the rebound from a terrible season – and subsequent summer.

Against Mariota and the Titans, Pro Football Focus gave Smith a grade of 86.3 – third highest on the team in week one.

He posted a pair of tackles and was part of a defensive backfield that held Mariota to 139 yards on 56 percent passing in the second half. He’s also part of the defensive backfield that held Mariota without a touchdown pass for the entirety of the game.

Oakland’s secondary came out after halftime and made life difficult on Mariota – after allowing him to go for 116 yards on 67 percent passing (10 of 15) in the first half.

They also did a much better job on third down conversions after halftime. While a 50 percent conversion rate (seven of 14) may not be anything worth celebrating, remember that Tennessee was almost perfecton third down conversions in the first half.

Like everything else, we must wait and see if Smith’s performance against the Titans was an anomaly, or if he is on an upward trend and playing himself back into the form that landed him a lucrative deal with Oakland to begin with.