Jeff Heath was one of the players who left Dallas after the 2019 season. After a disappointing year of safety, the team chose not to offer him a new contract. This prompted Heath to leave for Las Vegas, where he now defends the colors of the Raiders.
Well, the Cowboys may be regretting letting go.
A well-deserved honor.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) November 18, 2020
After week 10, Jeff Heath was named the Defensive Player of the Week in the American Conference. His performance against the Denver Broncos this past Sunday was to frame: two interceptions, two defensive passes and a tackle. This safety performance was key for the Raiders to achieve victory with a score of 37 – 12.
However, there is an interesting fact. Heath only participated in 34 snaps against Denver. That is, 48% of the plays. Without a doubt, the fact of achieving such an outstanding performance without being a starter in Las Vegas draws a lot of attention.
Former Cowboys safety Jeff Heath had two interceptions Sunday for the Raiders. He has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week pic.twitter.com/oQKjQItINc
– Jon Machota (jonmachota) November 18, 2020
But that is not all. On the Pro Football Focus (PFF) website, Jeff Heath is listed as the third best safety in the NFL and second best in coverage. Besides, he is the highest ranked defensive player for the Raiders in PFF. Notably, safety is not a starter for the Raiders. In fact, he has only played from the start in one of the nine games in which he has participated.
Without a doubt, Heath’s first season in Las Vegas has been better than expected. His three interceptions so far are equal to his career-best record, achieved in 2017 with the Cowboys. Besides, his first interception with the Raiders could not be better: it happened against the Chiefs, in the only loss of the current champions this season.
— NFL México (@nflmx) October 11, 2020
Why did the Cowboys let Jeff Heath go?
This performance of Heath with the Raiders has been surprising. There are even fans who wish he was still in Dallas. More now, with the problems that the cowgirl defense has had.
Recall that Jeff Heath came to the Cowboys as an undrafted rookie in the 2013 season. Although he had three interceptions in 2017, his best performance was in 2018: an interception, 5 passes defended, a forced fumble, 85 combined tackles and six tackles for Turnover.
However, Heath underperformed in 2019. After two good seasons, the safety had no interceptions last year. However, his other numbers remained consistent: 63 combined tackles, 3 tackles for turnovers and two hits to the quarterback.
Besides, 2019 was Heath’s final year of contract with the Cowboys. Due to his performance and the need to free up space under the salary cap, the team leadership decided not to offer him a new contract. This led to Heath signing a two-year contract with Las Vegas, where he would not have guaranteed ownership. It was even thought that Heath’s role with the Raiders would be primarily on special teams.
Heath has not been the only one to achieve a great performance after leaving Dallas. Something similar is happening with cornerback Byron Jones, who is having a good season playing for the Dolphins. In fact, Heath and Jones’ marches add to the list of bad decisions made by the Dallas leadership in recent years, which have notoriously influenced the cowboy team’s drought of successes.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) November 15, 2020
Of course, the big question remains: Would Jeff Heath be standing out with the Cowboys if he hadn’t left? There are those who think not, due to their performance in 2019. However, the change of coaching staff could perhaps have had a positive impact on their performance.
For now, it only remains to see how Heath gives his contribution to the Raiders’ fight to reach the playoffs. Meanwhile, Dallas will continue to try to improve its defensive performance after several disastrous performances this season.