Bruce Arians and the high-powered Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense have come to town to test the young Las Vegas Raiders defense as they still look for their first four-quarter effort.
Over the past week’s runup to the Raiders vs Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay defense has dominated headlines. Besides having arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game on their roster, the Bucs defense has played well enough to become a national story. Yet, the Buccaneers offense is also turning heads around the league thanks to a few familiar names.
Despite that stout defense, the guy named Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offense also has quite a bit to brag about. In addition to Brady, and his former Patriots teammate Rob Gronkowski, the Tampa Bay offense has a multitude of other dangers weapons the young Las Vegas Raiders defense will have to contend with.
Let’s take a look at the Buccaneers offense ahead of Sunday afternoon’s game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Leftwich Continues to Impress
Second-year offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich deserves high praise. Under the tutelage of Bruce Arians, and shoulder to shoulder with Brady, he has amassed quite the offense. He has put together the No, 2 scoring offense in the league (177 points), Tampa Bay is 8th in points per game (29.5), 14th in total yards (2,149), fields the 12th ranked passing offense (1,494), and the 16th ranked rushing attack (655). Leftwich will go head-to-head with Paul Guenther and his blossoming young defense.
“Tommy Tuck Rule,” Rules
When Derek Carr first got to Las Vegas, he was greeted by rumors of Tom Brady signing with the Raiders. Head coach Jon Gruden and owner Mark Davis had been photographed with Brady at a fight in Las Vegas the same week. But, the Raiders stuck with Carr and Brady would take his talents to Tampa Bay, and on the seventh week of the season, they would meet.
Old Man Brady’s still got it. Despite having a rough outing against the Chicago Bears, the Buccaneers offense put up 38 unanswered points against the Green Bay Packers. Brady has put up impressive numbers for his new team going 143-for-223 for 1541 yards, 14 TDS, and 4 INT. Brady is averaging 256.8 yards per game with a QB rating of 97.8. Needless to say, the Bucs passing game is a force to behold and the Raiders will have their hands full – especially without thumper Johnathan Abram.
Way Out Wideouts
Last season Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard, Scott Miller, Cameron Brate, and Justin Watson caught 5,000+ yards worth of passes from Jameis Winston. This season they are working hand in hand with the greatest quarterback in NFL history, and while their numbers may be down, this group gives Brady a multitude of ways to beat you in the air.
What they don’t get in receptions, they make up with efficiency and scoring. Nearly every wide receiver on the Buccaneers has a receiving touchdown in 2020. Not only that, but Tampa Bay picked up Rob Gronkowski and rookie Tyler Johnson. Evans is the leader of this group and Brady’s go to receiver in the red zone. Evans leads the team with six receiving touchdowns and 281 total receiving yards so far in 2020.
Gronk may have lost a step but he and Brady are still as in sync as ever. His routes are crisp and he stills get in and out of breaks cleanly. Gronkowski has the second-most targets (28), and the third most yards (218). Gronk is still a monster in the run game and downfield blocking which is why Tampa Bay is also gaining steam against opponents on the ground this season..
Miller has been a surprising revelation and is second on the team in yards (256), leading in average yard per reception (16.0), and fourth in targets (23). Miller has been a legit deep threat in the absence of Godwin who was injured earlier this year.
Godwin is the speedster out of the bunch, but in the last couple of weeks he’s been sidelined with a hamstring injury. He was active in last week’s victory against the Packers and looks to become more active in the passing game. His abilities along with Miller’s are a perfect complement to the size of the other pass-catchers.
Mr. B and Mr. Jones
The Bucs have some big names in their backfield, but an unlikely workhorse has emerged as the leadrs. Armed with the likes of LeSean ‘Shady’ McCoy, Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones has emerged as the Bucs go-to back.
Jones is the leading rusher for the Bucs with 472 yards on 97 carries. Jones has three rushing touchdowns on the season and 17 receptions for 84 yards. At 5-foot-11, and 208 pounds, he is a no-nonsense north/south runner. Jones is a one-cut back, who is very disciplined, always running through the designated hole. He doesn’t have a lot of wiggle to him nor does he possess breakaway speed. He’s just going to punish you straight ahead.
What Jones does have is good vision, better balance is able to finish his runs with a positive lean and always keeps his feet moving. He also likes to get lost behind the pile pushing forward until he can slide out and gain more yards. Moreover, the Bucs acquisition of Fournette has motivated him to be the best he can be.
Fournette, since his arrival has been a spell back for Jones. He has also battled lingering ankle injuries. However, he has gotten healthy just in time to play the Raiders and their 12th ranked rushing defense. When healthy Fournette is averaging 5.1 yards on 24 carries, has caught 7/8 passes for 34 yards and scored twice on the ground.
McCoy, in comparison, has been a virtual no-show. In five games he has amassed a paltry -1 yard on 6 carries, and 10 receptions for 61 yards. At 32 years old McCoy is definitely on the back nine of his career, but he is still dangerous.
This Tampa Bay Buccaneers team has the ability to put up points and do it quickly in the air and on the ground. It will take a strong effort by the Raiders young and banged-up defense to take the wind out of Brady’s sails and keep the Buccaneers ground game quiet.