The Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs.

Topic: What’s The Most Intriguing Aspect Of Bucs vs. Raiders?

Scott Reynolds: The Gruden Factor

Jon Gruden is Tampa Bay’s all-time winningest head coach with 57 victories and a 57-55 record with the Buccaneers from 2002-08. Gruden helped the Bucs win a franchise-record three division titles in 2002, 2005 and 2007, and of course the team’s lone championship – Super Bowl XXXVII in his first season with the team in 2002. Gruden was recently inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor in 2017, and there was even some speculation that he might replace Dirk Koetter as head coach in 2018 but he opted to return to the Raiders organization instead.

Scott Reynolds and Jon Gruden
Scott Reynolds and Jon Gruden – Photo by: Trevor Sikkema/PR

I broke the news that Gruden wanted to return to head coaching in the NFL in a July edition of SR’s Fab 5 in 2017, and after two season in Oakland in which the Raiders went 4-12 and 7-9, Gruden’s team is now 3-2 after a huge, 40-32 upset of the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in Kansas City. Now Gruden gets his first crack at his former team, and it’s the first time Gruden has been on the sidelines for a Bucs vs. Raiders game since Oakland beat Tampa Bay, 31-24, in what was Gruden’s final game as the head coach in 2008.

It’s interesting how Gruden’s biggest win – a 48-21 win in Super Bowl XXXVII – came as a Buccaneer against his former Raiders team, and how one of his worst defeats – the loss that got him fired six years later – came against Oakland. Now things have come full circle with Gruden being back with the Raiders – this time in Las Vegas. Gruden will always have a spot spot for the Buccaneers, especially with his parents still living in Tampa, but not on Sunday Night Football when his former pirates clash with his new ones on NBC.

Mark Cook: Can The Bucs Do It Again?

Sunday’s win over the Packers was a thing of beauty – well the last three quarters anyway. Tampa Bay had zero penalties, zero turnovers and gave up zero sacks. Let me say that again, zero penalties, zero turnovers and not a single sack allowed. Their game against the Bears the week before couldn’t have looked any more different than the win over Green Bay. So can the Buccaneers do it again on Sunday night when they travel to Las Vegas to take on Jon Gruden and his solid Raiders football team?

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Buccaneers played a complete game against Green Bay with all three phases working together to show the country that they are for real. It was a statement win. But if Tampa Bay reverts back to their undisciplined ways that reared it’s head in Chicago, then Sunday’s win was all for naught. I mean it still counts as a win, but the Buccaneers need this win to have a carry-over effect for the remainder of the season. We have seen winning streaks and upset wins in the past few years, but they haven’t had a lasting impact that has turned into a playoff appearance. Sunday’s win should be one that shows this team just how good it is if it had any doubts.

To expect the Bucs to go two straight games without committing any penalties or even giving up a sack is asking too much. But that doesn’t mean they can’t – and shouldn’t – play a much cleaner game than they did two weeks ago on Thursday night. The formula has been revealed – don’t beat yourself and you’ll be hard to beat. Now can Tampa Bay avoid beating itself at Las Vegas? 

Jon Ledyard: Consistency Is Key

We can talk all we want about the Bucs’ dominant, 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, but unless the team can find a way to sustain that level of play, it won’t be the turning point in the season that many envisioned. We can talk about a zero-penalty, zero-turnover, zero-sacks allowed game all we want, but if Tampa Bay can’t establish a consistently mistake-free approach, we’ll be back to “Bucs beating Bucs” on Sunday night.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and QB Derek Carr
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and QB Derek Carr – Photo by: Getty Images

The Raiders don’t commit many penalties, don’t turn the ball over, have dropped just four passes all season and have allowed just eight sacks through five games. They’re a quality opponent that has proven this season that it won’t beat itself. This isn’t like playing Denver or Carolina, where a team can get sloppy at times and still find a way to win the game.

If the Bucs are serious about their victory over the Packers being a mile marker on what could be a special season, it needs to show up on Sunday night. A new culture isn’t established off of one performance, but rather the consistent ability to play at peak level. The Bucs took a big step there on Sunday against the Packers, and they’ll need to take another big step in that direction this Sunday night in Las Vegas.

Matt Matera: Bucs’ Young CBs vs. Raiders’ Young WRs

Everyone likes to watch players with potential, right? There’s an influx of youth coming into this game at two of the most impactful positions in the NFL that happen to oppose one another. The Raiders have rookie speedster Henry Ruggs III, the team’s first-round pick, and second-year receiver Hunter Renfrow lining up outside while they match-up against second-year corners Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting, and third-year corner Carlton Davis III.

Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III
Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III – Photo by: Getty Images

It’s almost funny to say that the 23-year old Davis is the elder statesman when it comes to having the most experience out of either group, but that’s a fact. We could potentially be watching future stars in this league under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football. Ruggs may have missed three weeks with a knee and hamstring injury, but he came back with a bang in Week 4 with 118 receiving yards and a touchdown. With 4.27 speed, he will be a downfield threat all night, as one of the fastest receivers in the league. It will be interesting to see if the Bucs match Ruggs up with Davis, who continues to be a shutdown corner, leading the team with 10 pass breakups and three interceptions.

Dean is coming off a hot streak of his own with four pass breakups in Week 5 followed by a game-changing pick-six in Sunday’s win over Green Bay. Murphy-Bunting has been an important part to Tampa Bay’s defense in the slot as well, so it will be interesting to see them line up against the likes of Renfrow, who has averaged as respectable 61 yards per game over his last three contests. There will be a lot of young players with big responsibilities, who haven’t played in many prime time games, showing their stuff on Sunday night. Let’s see how they perform.

Taylor Jenkins: Another Prime Time Game For The Bucs

When the Bucs head across the country to battle the Jon Gruden-led Raiders on Sunday it will be another prime time game for Tampa Bay – a second chance this season to put their new-look roster on display for the world to see after a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 5.

Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Expectations are at an all-time high for Tampa Bay entering its Week 7 match-up, with legitimate hopes for a playoff run, as the Bucs are coming off of a huge win against the Green Bay Packers. But prime time games haven’t been kind to the Bucs of late, winning just two prime time games since 2016, with both victories coming over the Carolina Panthers. Tampa Bay has lost four of its last five prime time match-ups, with the Bucs falling to the Bears in Week 5, the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 and the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, while narrowly edging out a 20-14 win over the Panthers in Week 2 last season.

Whether people like Tom Brady and the 2020 Bucs or not, they’re must-see football on a weekly basis and despite already playing multiple games in the 4:25 p.m. window so far this season, prime time games carry a whole different feeling. Sunday will be Tampa Bay’s second of five total prime time games this year with both the Bucs and the Raiders coming into Week 7 off of big wins against playoff-caliber opponents.