While everyone bashed the Raiders secondary as being pathetic, few took the time to observe the massive difference in quality between the two secondary units. The Raiders cornerbacks was probably the worst group in the league. The Raiders safeties, on the other hand, were a strong suit for the Raiders defense this year.
Lead by strong safety Tyvon Branch, the Raiders produced pretty strong play by their safeties. Michael Huff did not replicate his 2010 season that earned him a large contract, but he also did not slide back towards the player that most believed was not living up to his potential.
When Hiram Eugene went down for the season with an injury during the preseason, many were concerned about the depth at safety. Then the Raiders went out and signed free agent safety Matt Giordano (Cal fans will remember him from the days he patrolled the secondary at Memorial Stadium for the Cal Bears). While Giordano obviously has some flaws in his game and should not be a starter, he proved to be incredibly valuable as a back up. Huff was forced to miss some time with injuries and Giordano stepped in and made plays. By the end of the season, he led the Raiders with 5 interceptions.
Both Huff and Branch are still coming into their own, and both have potential to be in the discussion for the pro bowl in the next few years. While the rest of the defensive units have a lot of issues, the safeties look to be a group that should only improve from here.