Nnamdi Asomugha to Eagles: Oakland Raiders Prepare for Life After Nnamdi
I chose not to believe it until it was a fact.
When he first signed with the Eagles, I thought that it was a debilitating blow for the 2011 Raiders. After a long, hard look at it, though, the Raiders can be productive and win without the All-Pro corner. If the Raiders don't win in 2011, it won't be because Asomugha left Raider Nation.
Turn the page to see why.
Raiders Didn't Win with Him
If you think the Raiders will be nothing without Asomugha, they were nothing with him. Since he was drafted in 2003, the Raiders have compiled a record of 37-91 with no division titles or playoff appearances.
He wasn't that great until 2006, but even then the Raiders did nothing during his stint in Raider Nation. They finished .500 (8-8) just one time in his Raider career, and that was a year in which he missed two games.
To measure his impact more, the Raiders were 8-8 in 2010 and 1-1 in games he missed.
Nature of His Position
Soon to be inducted Hall of Fame corner Deion Sanders was the best corner in NFL history. But when he was with the Atlanta Falcons, they went 31-50 with one playoff appearance and one playoff win in five years.
Superstar corners only had a great impact on a great team, as Sanders had on the 49ers and Cowboys later. This is Sanders too, who was not only better than Asomugha but had an impact in the return game as well.
Building a team around a corner will take a mighty long time.
Raiders' Biggest Impact Defensive Player
There's a reason why defensive tackles are among the first players to be picked in the draft. The winner of the battle at the line of scrimmage usually determines the winner of a football game.
A defensive lineman profoundly affects what happens in the running game and passing game. You can throw away from a great corner, but great defensive linemen have to be double- and sometimes triple-teamed.
This allows another player on the line to make a play against the run or pass. Cover corners don't usually do a whole lot against the run, and quarterbacks don't do well when they get hit too much.
This makes Richard Seymour the Raiders' biggest impact player on defense.
Not a Leader
It was interesting to hear Asomugha say that the 2011 Eagles organization has a "championship feel to it."
What does he know about championships?
He didn't win one in Oakland, college or high school.
Seymour is the Raiders' real defensive impact player, and he spreads it to his teammates. Last year he went to training camp early to show young defensive linemen Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston how it's done.
When did Asomugha ever do that?
I always heard of him reaching out to Charles Woodson and Ronnie Lott to get better, but never his teammates. Maybe Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt would have learned their craft a little faster if he did. Asomugha did his job, no doubt, but Seymour made his teammates do their job while doing his.
Who are you going to listen to anyway?
Will it be the great player or the great player who has won championships?
I guess Asomugha can't teach anyone how to win until he does himself.
That's why he's leaving.
No thanks to Asomugha's help, Routt has ascended to the top of the NFL cornerback world. He ranked No. 2 in the NFL in burn percentage (39.4) and would have tied with Asomugha had he been targeted enough.
And guess what?
Routt was lined up opposite the other team's best receiver, as opposing teams looked to send their man away from Asomugha. Despite being targeted almost twice as much, he only gave up one more touchdown than Darrelle Revis.
Routt figures to build on that with Hall of Fame corner Rod Woodson as his position coach. Willie Brown is still a Raider employee too, so the Raiders will always have a top-five corner.
I don't remember a year that they didn't.
This makes Nnamdi Asomugha the most replaceable All-Pro player in the NFL.
There are still plenty of players on the free-agent market for the Raiders to fill their needs. Asomugha's near $20 million salary while with the Raiders won't be a reason why they can't go get some of these players.
So if you think the Raiders are dead in the water because of the loss of Asomugha, I just showed you why they aren't. He is a great player, as I still have him as the best corner in the NFL and an impeccable human being.
Seymour, not Asomugha, brought the swagger back to this Raider team, so it doesn't die with the loss of Asomugha. As great as he is, he doesn't even have swagger, which is usually a trait of a Raider corner.
This article isn't to hate on Asomugha, but it is simply to say the Raiders are not dead without him. I hope he stays healthy for years to come but neither wish him well nor bad.
Like Richard Seymour said to Jerry McDonald of The Oakland Tribune, "I'm concerned about the Raiders."