Charles Woodson didn’t stay unemployed for long. The Raiders safety retired after the 2015 season, and quickly become a prominent ESPN analyst.
Just because the future Hall of Famer now focuses on the NFL as a whole doesn’t mean he’s lost track of his former team. He has great friends on that roster, and was proud of their return to prominence last year.
While he acknowledged the Raiders’ success, he also identified some flaws. He was particularly critical of cornerback Sean Smith, who signed a four-year, $38.5 million contract last offseason to be the team’s top cornerback.
"That didn’t go as well as anybody would have hoped," Woodson told Alex Marvez and Kirk Morrison on SiriusXM NFL Radio, via the Sporting News. “When it comes to situational football, when you bring in a guy like that, you’ve got to be able to get off the field (defensively).
"If you’re brought in to be a lock-down corner, you’ve got to be a lock-down corner. You’ve got to hold guys to short gains, tackle them when they catch the ball, don’t let guys get through the teeth of the defense."
Smith struggled at times, especially early on, but played well as the season progressed. He dealt with a shoulder issue that required offseason surgery as well, but Woodson doesn’t believe he was the true shutdown corner his paycheck demanded.
It wasn’t all Smith’s fault. The Raiders played well to start and end games, had several key takeaways and were decent on third down, but made too many costly mistakes.
"There were way too many big plays defensively,” Woodson said. “That goes hand-in-hand with the rush and the back end as well. Those guys have to eliminate big plays for them to be a dominant team."