Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs' Morris says effort a problem in loss to Texans
TAMPA - The parade of veterans through coach Raheem Morris' cubbyhole of an office at Raymond James Stadium started almost immediately after Morris told his players the 37-9 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday was his fault. Tight end Kellen Winslow was the first to stop by. He was followed shortly by center Jeff Faine and, finally, more than an hour after the game was over, cornerback Ronde Barber. All went seeking solutions to the problems that have derailed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' playoff hopes. While Morris had to admit all the problems are not immediately correctible, he made it clear the one thing the players can correct is their effort. "On defense we had some issues with effort on some of the big plays - the two big plays,'' Morris said Monday in reference to 80- and 78-yard touchdowns passes by the Texans."That's something that is very uncommon. Some of that was because of injury or whatever the case may be, but you can't make excuses. You've got to go out there and play as hard as you possibly can at all times.'' It wasn't just the defense that was caught "loafing,'' as Morris put it. On offense, several dropped passes and wasted scoring opportunities added to the Bucs' woes. "At the receiver position we have to compete (for) those balls that are being throw to us, in particular (the ones) in the red zone and on third down,'' Morris said. "We've got to catch the ball in a competitive environment." Morris intends to give his team a "push'' toward playing harder this week by practicing in pads more. Instead of holding just one padded practice, he'll work them in pads twice. "This week and for the rest of the season, we can't be concerned about preservation so much,'' Morris said. "(We have to) get our physicality better – it's what we need to do. "So, the answer is putting on some pads. I got my mulligan this week so I can put (the pads) on twice this week and get as many as I can based on the rules to get these guys going.'' The rules Morris referred to are a result of the new collective bargaining agreement. Teams are allowed 14 padded practices during the regular season, and 11 must be held during the first 11 weeks. In addition, teams are limited to two padded practices during any one week. "We had a couple uncharacteristic loafs that we usually don't have,'' Morris said. "Some of those things popped up in those big plays and those are things that can't happen. "(Sunday) was not a particularly physical day as far as competing for the football and all those types of things. So, we've got to go out there and compete a little bit better and (the) only way you can do that is to practice it." Defensive end Michael Bennett agreed that practicing in pads more this week should help the Bucs improve come Sunday, when they play at defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay. "We need to execute better in practice, because the things you do in practice you do in the game,'' Bennett said. "Look at Michael Jordan and his practice habits. That's why he was the best – because of his practice habits. So, that's something we need to do better, too.'' Morris also suggested practicing game situations in pads will help because the team's lack of experience has contributed greatly to their inconsistent play. "We have a bunch of young guys out there running around and they're playing fast and they're playing hard, but they're not playing consistent enough,'' Morris said. "You've got a young (middle linebacker in Mason Foster) and again, I'm making excuses and I hate to do that, but you have young players and we're not playing consistent enough, and that falls on the head coach." Morris continued to take the brunt of the blame for the loss, but his players weren't having it. "It can't be on him, because he's not in the game,'' Bennett said. "At some point in time, it's not about the coaches. It's about the players in the game. No matter what play is called, we still have to execute it and clearly we're not executing the plays the coaches are calling.''