The Las Vegas Raiders are a week removed from the biggest win of the second Jon Gruden stint, and arguably of Derek Carr’s career so far, but there’s no time to pause and reflect. Next Sunday, the Silver and Black host Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in primetime. A win here would mean a 4-2 record, and a headstart as they rush into the league’s easiest remaining schedule.
How can the Las Vegas Raiders beat “Tompa” Bay?
How the Las Vegas Raiders Can Beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
By Scoring More Points
Because someone’s going to say this in the replies, and it’s so funny that we went ahead and made the joke for you so you don’t have to. We’ve already slapped our knees and laughed, I don’t care what they say about you, you’re alright.
Tampa’s Bread and Butter
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are known for their offense. The names alone belong on a marquee. Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, and Rob Gronkowski make them a popular head-to-head team on Madden. And make no mistake, Tampa is top in yardage this year, with Tom Brady putting up good numbers.
Bruce Arians is a bonafide offensive genius, and the same offense that got 5,000 yards out of Jameis Winston last season has number 12 on pace for his best season since 2011, nearly a decade ago. Surely, nobody in Tampa Bay is complaining about their offense.
But the reality of the situation is that they’re not 4-2 because of their offense. The Buccaneers have enjoyed as much success as they have so far this season because their defense is playing lights-out football right now.
Defense Wins Championships
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the NFL’s best defense so far in 2020. They are number seven in points allowed (122), and number one in yardage allowed (1,692). They’re fifth against the pass, and the absolute best in the league against the run. Tampa has racked up 22 sacks in six matches, establishing a crazy pace of 3.6 a game, on the way to 58 on the season.
Opposing rushers average three yards a carry, nobody has thrown for 300 yards against this defense yet, and the secondary has snagged eight interceptions so far in this young season. This is a unit that ended Aaron Rodgers’ campaign for league MVP and stomped him out.
In a way, Tampa Bay is a match-up nightmare for the Raiders. Every fantasy football expert on Earth will tell you that this isn’t gonna be a great week for Josh Jacobs, and the numbers would certainly back that up. So, in my mind, there are two schools of thought.
Firstly, Tampa’s aggressive defense might take away the run, but it creates opportunities downfield. This might secretly be a gift for the Raiders, as Carr thrives versus the blitz.
If my friend, Cody, is right here, that means 62% of Carr’s touchdowns have come versus the blitz. Aaron Rodgers looked hopeless versus Tampa’s pressure, but I’m not sure he’s used to it. I’m also not sure that Green Bay’s offensive line is good enough to be compared to the Raiders, especially considering the entire unit is finally getting healthy.
A week ago, Carr side-stepped pressures and blitzes from Kansas City, finding Hunter Renfrow, Nelson Agholor, and Henry Ruggs deep on multiple occasions. If he can bring that same energy back to Las Vegas against the Buccaneers, the Raiders could really put a dent in Tampa’s defense.
Al Davis Once Said…
To quote the Silver and Black’s legendary patriarch, “They said you had to take what the defense gave you. No, we are going to take what we want.” Part of me thinks the Raiders might come out in those strong formations and force-feed them a healthy dose of the Raider rushers anyway.
Richie Incognito is getting healthy, this team is well-rested, and it’s not like they shy away from running the ball. The Raiders are tenth in the NFL in rushing attempts, and Devontae Booker has proven to be a decent change of pace back for Josh Jacobs and Jalen Richard.
In what could be Tom Cable’s masterpiece, what if the Raiders just bullied the Tampa Bay front seven? They’ve got the pieces. Just dominate the point of attack and break off chunks of yardage, keeping Tom Brady off the field.
Why Not Both?
Honestly, the best approach is probably a bit of both. Establish the run, and then use it to set up play action bombs. Tire out Tampa’s defense, while keeping the Silver and Black well-rested. Beat Brady with situational football and exercise some decades old demons.
And defensively, it’s as simple as it’s always been. Hit Tom Brady. In more than 80% of his career losses, Brady has been hit more than 10 times. Throwing him off his rhythm disrupts his timing, and at his advanced age, he’s gonna feel every hit while he peels himself off the turf at Allegiant.