Getting To Know The Buccaneers’ Enemy: Oakland Raiders
By James Yarcho
In preparation for tomorrow’s game, we took the time to speak with Tyler Randolph of Just Blog Baby to find out what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can expect from the Oakland Raiders.
The Oakland Raiders are the best road team in the NFL, sporting a 4-0 record away from Oakland and this week they bring their undefeated streak to Raymond James Stadium to take on the Buccaneers in what many consider a must win for the Bucs. We spoke with Just Blog Baby writer Tyler Randolph to find out a few things about that Raiders team and what he believes are some things to look out for on both sidelines.
Jack Del Rio has this team clicking right now. What have been the biggest changes you’ve noticed since last season that had led to such early success?
I think first you have to look at the continuity of the of the roster and the coaching staff. Having gone through the close games last year, losing heartbreakers, winning close ones, obviously the upset in Denver stands out, but when going through all of that with a group of guys and learning what it takes to win, then coming back the following year with the same group, that only builds confidence and rapport that is easy to build on. Also an influx of talent and like-minded guys who are veterans and can provide certain necessary leadership roles, especially on the defensive side of the ball. That all helps in producing on the field. The defense is bending, but not necessarily breaking. They are lucky to have a top 5 offense, but that unit can only go up from here, and I think the noticeable room for improvement, albeit a 5-2 record, helps keep the team focused.
We are preparing for what many think has the makings of a shootout Sunday. Do you think the combinations of Carr and Cooper as well as Winston and Evans are two of the future elite duos in this league?
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As are most of the people aware of the game on Sunday. A shootout could very well be in play here. But these two duos will easily headline top offensive threats for years to come. At this point it seems Derek Carr and Amari Cooper are more polished of the two, but that’s not denying that Evans is a match-up problem for all cornerbacks. His size allows him to do that. At this point, and unbiased, I still take Cooper and Carr. The mechanics and flexibility that both Carr and Cooper utilize is rare for this young of duo. Carr is making every throw seem simple. Cooper makes routes look about as crisp as possible. What’s most exciting about these combos is that it makes you very happy for the future of the QB position. Having two guys like this makes for a better product overall. I will say, though, that I would be far from upset to have a Jameis Winston/Mike Evans duo to be rooting for…
What weakness in the Raiders do you think could cost them a victory in Tampa?
I have to say defense. More specifically, run defense. I say this because both David Amerson and Sean Smith match-up better with bigger receivers, and Winston can get a little shaky with his passes, setting up Nelson with the possibility of some opportunistic plays. Rogers has been nothing short of impressive in his stint at RB this season, and that dude can pack a punch. Backs have gotten loose on this defense, and once those flood gates open, it has been hard for them to correct it on the fly. They played better last week, but Jacksonville doesn’t have a back as talented as Rogers. Oakland needs to be ready for this, as time of possession could play a huge role for either team’s victory.
On the flip side, what weakness have you seen in Tampa that the Raiders could expose to lead them to a win?
Well, the aerial attack of Oakland provides Vernon Hargreaves and Brent Grimes their toughest task to date. That could be a problem, but TB’s pass defense overall has been very solid this year (top ten if I’m not mistaken). But as the Raiders struggle against the run, so do the Bucs. Latavius Murray sidelined for a couple weeks may have been the best thing that happened to him, as it provided the coaching staff with some clarity and confirmation that Murray is still the most talented back on their roster. Look for Musgrave to feed Murray early and often to exploit the second and third levels of that defense. Oakland’s O-line is dominant, and with McCoy not at a hundred percent, this could be a problem for them.
How difficult do you think it will be on the players having stayed in Florida since last week, being out of their elements and away from their homes and facilities?
Given the circumstances, it is best-case scenario. Rather than going back and forth, staying together out there provides them with some internal stability. That being said, I think mentally is where this may come in to play. Irregular settings and game day preparations or rituals may hinker some of the players. Being away from family and their homes may play into is somehow for others. However, there are quite a bit of guys from the state of Florida and throughout the Southern region all together, so for them it could feel completely normal. I think I’m more worried about how they travel back home and prepare for Denver the following week.
As I said to Tyler, I believe at this point, Oakland is the better team. However, the better team does not always win. With the emergence of Jacquizz Rodgers, the steady progression we’ve seen out of the defense, and the strong emphasis of getting Buccaneers fans back to Ray Jay, I see the Buccaneers winning this game.
Next: Pewter Plank Roundtable: How To Stop The Raiders' Offense
Final Score prediction:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 33
Oakland Raiders – 28