(Our Chris Fischer worked the Bucs-Raiders game on the sideline for CBS-TV Sunday, as Derek Carr and Oakland improved to 5-0 on the road.)
Leading by seven and coming out at halftime, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter told me his defense was executing the game plan by limiting both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. Apparently Bucs fans were treated to an early Halloween trick. Derek Carr and the Raiders offense made big second half adjustments, which the Bucs didn’t have an answer for.
The potent Oakland wide receiver duo quickly turned their 4 combined catches for 29 yards in the first half, into a staggering 20 receptions for 281 yards and a touchdown.
The Bucs early lead forced the Raiders Derek Carr to go on a quick fire tirade. Carr was astounded when I told him on the field after the game that he set a new Raiders’ franchise record with 513 yards passing in the come from behind overtime victory.
For Bucs DB Vernon Hargreaves III it will be like watching a horror movie on Halloween, when he turns on the game tape today of his work against Cooper. In the only two times they’ve squared off (Once prior: Alabama vs. Florida), Cooper has now burned Hargreaves and his secondary unit for over 380 receiving yards. At this point Hargreaves has to be glad he’ll only face Cooper in the NFC-AFC schedule every four years.
The Bucs offense needs more weapons. Jameis Winston and Mike Evans can’t do it all. TE Cameron Brate may have caught a touchdown, but if Jacquizz Rodgers misses any significant length of time with the foot injury he suffered in overtime, the Bucs are in trouble. 270 yards of offense in five quarters is not going to get the job done.
Kicker Roberto Aguayo needs a mentor. Aguayo told me before the game that he uses a notebook to plot spots on the field for divots and creases. “Much like a golfer does on the course during a practice round,” as Aguayo said. Yet, he may want to make a list of potential job opportunities outside the NFL if he continues to miss kicks. It’s gotten that bad.
One thing Aguayo and Bucs fans can take solace in, is the fact Aguayo’s stats (converted 6 of 11 field goal attempts) going in to the Oakland game were the exact same as 17-year NFL veteran and fellow FSU standout Sebastian Janikowski. I don’t think Aguayo is a bad kicker, but I do notice his style gets the ball in to the air more with loft than a strike. Maybe it’s because he’s a 3-step drop kicker and Janikowski (who kicks a heavy ball) is a 2-step drop guy.
Plain and simple, Aguayo needs a kicker to compete with. The Bucs need to bring someone in to challenge him. As a well sourced NFL reporter told me, it could help to have Agauyo handle kick-offs for a while, and have a veteran aim for the uprights. It would allow Aguayo time to shake the nerves.