Oakland Raiders Opponent Preview: Get to Know the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Aug 20, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) and wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrate after a touchdown in the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 20, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) and wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrate after a touchdown in the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

Here is everything you need to know about the Week 8 opponent of the Oakland Raiders, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As always, let’s go to Sun Tzu for some wise words.

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”"

Let’s take that advice and get to know this week’s enemy, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For many fans, especially the ones that are as petty as myself, anytime the Raiders play the Bucs I look at it as a revenge game for 2002. While that may be inherently ridiculous, I would love for the Raiders to win this game 48-21, and to come away with 5 interceptions in the process.

But I digress.

Let’s see what this Buccaneers team is about — what are their strengths, their weaknesses, etc. We’ll start with the coaching staff:

Head Coach: Dirk Koetter

Offensive Coordinator: Todd Monken

Defensive Coordinator: Mike Smith

Special Teams Coordinator: Nate Kaczor

Koetter was the offensive coordinator the Bucs in 2015, and he helped engineer an offense that finished 5th in total yards (17th in passing, 5th in rushing) and 20th in points per game.

That’s an interesting mix, to have such a proficient offense in terms of total yards, but being below league average in points. Nonetheless, Koetter is a quality coach who will have this team ready to play on Sunday.

Tampa is 3-3 on the season — victors of two straight, after going on a three-game skid just before that. They beat Atlanta in Week 1, who gave the Raiders one of their two losses.

Mike Smith should be a familiar name to Raiders fans, if only because he was a popular name connected to the defensive coordinator position after the 2014 season. But the Bucs hired Smith a few weeks before Ken Norton Jr. was hired by Oakland.

Here is a look at the Bucs offense:

  • QB Jameis Winston
  • RB Jacquizz Rodgers
  • RB Peyton Barber
  • WR Mike Evans
  • WR Adam Humphries
  • TE Cameron Brate
  • LT Donovan Smith
  • LG Kevin Pamphile
  • C Joe Hawley
  • RG Ali Marpet
  • RT Demar Dotson

The 2016 Tampa Bay offense hasn’t been as effective as the 2015 version, but they’ve also battled several injuries — most notably that of Doug Martin, who hasn’t played since Week 2.

As a team, the Bucs ranked 12th in total yards per game (365.3), 16th in passing yards per game (250.0), 11th in rushing yards per game (115.3) and 19th in points per game (21.3).

So by all accounts, this is currently a middle of the pack offense. But knowing the Raiders defense, the Bucs could come out on Sunday looking like The Best Show on Turf.

Jameis Winston isn’t on a sophomore slump, but he’s struggling to take that next step. He’s completing 59.9 percent of his passes with a 12 to 9 TD to INT ratio. He’s tied for 16th in completions and is 16th in passing yards, but just 27th in completion percentage.

Even though Tampa’s top two backs are injured, the run game has managed to keep rolling. Jacquizz Rodgers has 324 yards on 69 carries (4.7 YPC). Against Carolina, Rodgers went for 101 yards on 30 carries and last week against the Niners, ‘Quizz racked up 154 yards on 26 carries.

Peyton Barber also got in on the action against San Francisco, picking up 84 yards on 12 carries, including a touchdown. So the Bucs could go with a split-carry backfield, as both backs has proven their worth.

The main player to watch out for, of course, is Mike Evans. The third-year wide receiver is tied for 6th in the NFL in receptions (40), 10th in receiving yards (545) but 5th in receiving yards per game (90.8), tied for 1st in touchdowns (6), 1st in first downs (34) and 3rd in targets (75).

So in summary — he’s good. And the Bucs obviously will look Evans’ way early and often, as evident by the heavy dose of targets he receives on a weekly basis. It will be a tough task for Sean Smith and co. to keep him contained.

After the drama with TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins in the offseason, Cameron Brate has been a breathe of fresh air. He has 20 catches for 226 and 2 TD’s. Not flashy, but he’s plenty capable.

The offensive line has been about average by league standards, allowing Jameis to be sacked 14 times thus far in 2016 — tied for 13th most. But the Bucs also have had a bye week, so on a per game basis, that ranks them a little lower.

Khalil Mack is coming off 3 sacks in 4 games, so hopefully he can continue that trend against an offensive line that is on the weaker side.

Here is a look at Tampa’s 4-3 defense:

  • DE Robert Ayers
  • DT Gerald McCoy
  • DT Clinton McDonald
  • DE William Gholston
  • SLB Daryl Smith
  • MLB Kwon Alexander
  • WLB Lavonte David
  • CB Vernon Hargreaves III
  • CB Brent Grimes
  • S Chris Conte
  • S Bradley McDougald

As mentioned on the JBB podcast, this defense has several standouts, particularly at the linebacker spots. Smith, Alexander and David make a fantastic trio in the middle of the defense. Kwon is in the top 20 in the league in tackles (52), and this is an area where Lavonte has excelled in recent seasons.

As a team, Tampa is 13th in yards allowed per game (350.7), 13th in passing yards allowed per game (237.5), 20th in rushing yards allowed per game (113.2) and 25th in points allowed per game (25.6). With Oakland boasting a top 10 offense, there is potential here for the Raiders to once again reach the 30-point mark.

The Bucs are tied for 12th in takeaways (9) with 5 fumble recoveries and 4 interceptions. But thanks to offense yielding 9 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles, Tampa’s give/take differential of -3 is tied for 23rd in the league.

Lavonte David has forced 2 of the fumbles, and four different players have logged INT’s. Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves are one of the most athletic CB tandems in the NFL, so although their numbers don’t rank in the upper half of the league, they both can make a play at any time.

And of course, you can’t forget about Gerald McCoy. He’s been one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL since entering the league in 2010. He’s earned multiple All-Pro honors, and even though his 2015 and 2016 production isn’t on par with years past, he’s still a player whose game needs to be respected.

Special Teams:

Lastly, the Bucs don’t have much the Raiders need to worry about in the Special Teams department.

Adam Humphries is the most notable kick and punt returner, and his numbers are mediocre. And Robert Aguayo — hailed as the next great NFL kicker and a player the Bucs traded up in the 2nd round to draft — is 6 for 11 on the season. So, yeah.

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