When the Las Vegas Raiders signed free safety Jeff Heath to a two-year deal this offseason, it was unclear what his exact role was going to be.
The Raiders possessed a relatively deep group of safeties, likely relegating Heath to special-team duties. Through the first four weeks of the season, this rang true, as Heath played just ten percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
An opportunity arose in Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs, and Heath took advantage. He picked off Patrick Mahomes late in the fourth quarter, putting an exclamation point on a massive upset win. Since that game, Heath has been a bright spot on an improving Raiders’ defense, despite not being a full-time starter.
Regardless, he turned in a stellar Week 10 performance against the Denver Broncos that earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Heath had two interceptions, two pass deflections, and one tackle in the blowout win. Despite the career game, Heath only played 48 percent of the defensive snaps.
Heath chalked up his success to the simple things, mentioning how key it is to “focus on each play and do your job. When you know what to do . . . most of the time you’re going to have success.”
Heath now leads the Raiders with three interceptions on the year. He has also added nine solo tackles and three pass deflections through nine games. He is the third-highest graded safety in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.
Head coach John Gruden praised the 29-year-old following the game, saying, “Heath started it off. I think he got the fire started.” Even with the standout effort, things do not get easier for the Raiders, as the 8-1 Chiefs are coming to Las Vegas for a rematch in Week 11.
When asked about the upcoming tilt with the defending Super Bowl champions, Gruden said “boy, we’re going to need [Heath] next week, because we have a great team coming to town.”
Something tells me Heath is going to see the field a lot more for the rest of the season.