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Raiders Mailbag: Can the young defense stop old foe Tom Brady?

Mailbag Tampa Bay

After having the weekend off, I couldn't be happier to be back at work. I'm not going to lie — the sleep was great, just not as great as Silver and Black football.

The Las Vegas Raiders are coming off their bye week to play Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (still feels weird to say those two things together). The Buccaneers were busy at work during the Raiders bye week handing the Green Bay Packers their first loss of the year in a decisive manner, 38-10.

With the Raiders coming off a week of rest and getting players healthy, they should be a very even matchup for a Buccaneers team that is now truly coming into their own as a whole after some early-season struggles.

Many of you recognize that this will be a great matchup and asked some great questions this week. If any of you have anymore questions, feel free to hit your boy up @theleviedwards on Twitter and Instagram as always.

Max Spriggs asks…

"We have beasts in the backfield with our running backs. Are we going to increase their use to help keep the defenses honest for the rest of the season?"

With the immense amount of depth the Silver and Black have at the running back position, I would say it's fair that the offense will be looking to lean on it the rest of the season.

Josh Jacobs is going to eat regardless. He has the makings of an old-school back that can carry the ball on any down. However, the Raiders have been starting to make a concerted effort in making sure Jacobs stays fresh during the game and doesn't take too many hits.

Running backs Kirby Wilson has expressed his plans to further involve Devontae Booker in the offense to keep Jacobs as effective down the stretch as possible. The Raiders have also been able to use Jalen Richard and fullback Alec Ingold to run routes and catch out of the backfield, making them two of the most versatile assets the Raiders have on offense.

I fully expect Jacobs to continue seeing upwards of 20 carries a game, but Booker, Richard and Ingold will maintain their production moving forward, which could make for a lethal four-headed backfield.

Steven Little asks…

"With what we did against Kansas City, what do we plan to keep as part of our defensive strategy? Do you think we figured out something?"

The game against Kansas City reminded us one thing: If you successfully rush the quarterback and get turnovers, you'll probably win the game too.

The defense put forth the most complete effort of the season against the Chiefs. This included Jeff Heath's clutch interception that became the complete momentum-shifter the Raiders needed — plus, it led to a touchdown.

The defensive line showed that they could hold their own at the line of scrimmage, getting ample pressure on Patrick Mahomes. If they can do the same against Tom Brady and the exceptional offensive line around him, the Raiders will be looking pretty throughout the game, likely giving Derek Carr and the offense enough time to put points on the board.

Eddie Thomas asks…

"How can the Raiders get Ruggs more involved in the offense? Do you think they should utilize him more with WR screens or even sweeps and reverse plays?"

My man, Eddie, you answered your own question within your own question.

Coach Gruden has been very vocal about wanting to get Ruggs more involved within the offense. In Gruden's own words, they didn't draft Ruggs to just be running hitch routes. That man can ball.

The speedster from Montgomery, Ala., returned from a two game absence to go for 118 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs. We caught a glimpse of some of the packages designed for Ruggs in the first half against the Panthers Week 1 before he got hurt and essentially became a decoy for the rest of the game.

After having a week of getting healthier and more integrated into the offense, expect Ruggs to have some chances to do some wicked things against the Buccaneers.

Rocky Devivo asks…

"Will a win against Tampa change the conversation about the Raiders being legitimate playoff contenders?"

Honestly, win or lose, the Raiders should be considered legitimate playoff contenders.

The Silver and Black couldn't have asked for a more difficult first five games seasons, as four out of five of those teams are currently above .500. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are currently above .500 as well with a 4-2 record.

After playing Tampa Bay, the Raiders remaining schedule currently consists of three games against teams with winning records. As the Raiders continue to limit mental mistakes and get healthy, there is no reason to rule them out of the playoff conversation.

If they keep up this level of play, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Raiders back in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. So, Rocky, if you know anyone who's currently sleeping on the Raiders, I would tell them to wake the hell up.

Check out the Las Vegas Raiders' photo department's favorite images of the Silver and Black from September of the 2020 season.

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