Bucs head coach Raheem Morris attempted to explain his team's poor showing on offense during a 26-3 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. Morris was critical of his team's Friday practice, but also questioned the offense's effort from Sunday's game.
One thing first-year head coach Raheem Morris had going for him during a disappointing season was his team's effort. That was until Sunday's game at Raymond James Stadium, where the Bucs were downed by the New York Jets, 26-3.
The Bucs were held to just 124 yards of offense vs. the Jets just one week after setting the mark for fifth-best offensive performance in franchise history in Carolina. The Bucs offense currently ranks 28th overall in the NFL.
Morris, who is the NFL's youngest head coach, was critical of his players after Sunday's game, blaming the team's preparation during the week leading up to the contest vs. the Jets while downplaying what some players told Pewter Report earlier in the season regarding some practices being poor earlier in the season.
"We had a terrible Friday practice," Morris said during his Monday press conference at One Buc Place. "I told them right after practice on Friday and I told them again on Saturday morning. Yesterday after the game I let them know. We just didn't practice that well. Throughout the season I'd say that Friday was more the exception than anything. Individually people have bad practices, but collectively as a team it's been rare that we've had a bad practice like we did on Friday. That wasn't the first bad Friday practice we've had in my time here, but I wanted to bring it to their attention so they know. We have to clean that up."
Tampa Bay's defense was also part of the poor showing during Friday's practice, but played well enough to defeat New York, holding the Jets offense to 310 yards. The Jets scored 19 points in the first half with an average starting field position of the 49-yard line. New York's final touchdown of the game came on a drive that started at Tampa Bay's 7-yard line.
The offense, on the other hand, didn't pick up a first down until the third quarter of Sunday's game while going 0-for-14 on third down conversions.
"We were not ready to play, and that's on us as coaches," Morris said of the offense. "We had no explosive plays, no third down conversions; we didn't get anything going, and that's not good."
Some players acknowledged Tampa Bay's poor practice Friday while others downplayed it.
"We basically had a bad practice, and what you do in practice is what you do in the game," said Bucs wide receiver Maurice Stovall. "That's' how we played on Sunday. We have to be more professional and apply ourselves better and finish the season strong. It's kind of hard to do that when things aren't going your way, but you have to have better character, apply yourself better and be more professional. Hopefully we'll play Sunday with better effort and a better mentality."
Added Bucs center Jeff Faine: "Not as much as the big deal that's been made of it. I thought [Friday's practice] was decent. It could have been better. It wasn't on par. You go to practice Friday, and even if it's the best Friday practice you've ever had you still have to execute on Sunday. I'm a believer in taking advantage of every opportunity you have to prepare. I'm not blaming the Friday practice, but I'm not giving it all the kudos it's getting, either. We definitely didn't take advantage of our Friday."
Regardless of how they felt about Friday's practice, Morris said he reminded his players of what transpired in practice and how it had a direct impact on Tampa Bay's poor offensive showing vs. New York on Sunday.
"You sat back at the time and watched the practice and couldn't believe what you were seeing," said Morris. "You huddle them up at the end of practice and let them know what happened and that there is going to be a direct response for [Friday's practice], and there was. We got our face beat off 26-3. I can't give a better example than that."
Bucs rookie quarterback Josh Freeman contributed to the offense's poor showing as well. He completed 14-of-33 passes for 93 yards and tossed three interceptions for a quarterback rating of 12.1.
While Freeman has played poorly over the last two weeks, throwing eight interceptions, the players around him say they need to play better to compensate for the first-round pick's inexperience.
"Part of it could be playing a rookie quarterback, but that's where veterans like myself have to pick up the slack," said Bucs running back Cadillac Williams. "To me, that's where we're lacking at."
Despite being off to the franchise's worst start since 1985, one thing Morris' team had been praised for was its effort.
However, even that has come into question after Tampa Bay's sluggish Friday practice and poor offensive showing vs. New York on Sunday.
"I feel like our team is showing effort, but there are times in our play where I don't if guys are just confused or the tempo is slow and guys are unsure of what's going on," said Williams. "I wouldn't say guys are uncertain of the game plan because I think [offensive coordinator Greg [Olson] and the offensive staff do a good job of preparing us. To me it comes down to the players focusing and everybody being on one page. To be honest with you sometimes I just don't see that as a whole."
There was a large contingency of people that wrote off the Bucs a while ago. With three games remaining in the 2009 regular season and his job security in question, Morris knows he must find a way to keep the 1-12 Bucs motivated after sensing some give-up from some offensive players on Sunday.
"I don't think it's a matter of effort," said Morris. "This game had some Giants-like implications where guys were physically outmatched in situations or a guy flat out beat a guy. Some of those things were there. Those are things you have to look at as a man and figure out how to correct.
"I don't know if it was effort. I don't want to put it on that yet because I see a lot of effort. I see guys flying around to the football on defense. Yesterday on offense you could question some of the effort. We have to go evaluate the tape and beat it into their head and figure out what's wrong there."
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