The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already have lost as many games as they did in all of 2010, and they still have six games to play.
Last week, the team began pushing to the media the notion that the franchise has been saddled with a very tough schedule, even though the Bucs basically play the same slate of games as the other teams in their division.
This week, coach Raheem Morris is blaming it on the labor agreement.
Per the folks at JoeBucsFan.com, Morris said during his weekly radio show that the limitation on in-season padded practices has taken some of the steam out of his “yungry” team. Morris explained that, by using two of his allotment of 11 padded practices last week, he got the desired response from a squad that, while losing to the Packers, didn’t get blew out . . . or blown, blowed out. Instead, the Bucs kept things interesting at Lambeau Field.
“We put our pads on, had those guys go out and really fight for the balls in practice and have the DB’s really compete with those guys,” Morris said. “And you see it show up in a game. Mike Williams was able to go up and make some of the dynamic catches that he made last year when the practice habits were a little bit different.
“You know, we got the collective bargaining agreement and we couldn’t put on pads as much and some of those things. But last week we pulled our mulligan, we had our two padded practices, got those guys to compete again. Mike Williams practiced hard all week and it transferred into the game, which was great for us.”
Morris may be right. But it’s his job to find a way to get the most out of his players, within the confines of rules that apply equally to every team. More importantly, he needs to be careful to avoid the perception that he’s making excuses for underachievement.
Though I’ve probably said enough about Morris in the past week to earn a permanent spot in his doghouse, I like the guy. He has done well with a work-in-progress roster, and he has a bright future. But he needs to be willing to take a step back and assess not only his team’s performance but every aspect of his own performance objectively, in order to be the best coach he possibly can be.
And when identifying publicly the reasons for his team’s inability to meet expectations, he needs to let folks other than himself supply the excuses.