A day after suffering a 31-14 defeat to the New England Patriots, Raheem Morris addressed the media at One Buccaneer Place discussing what went right, wrong and who stood out.
If you listened to sports radio or viewed social media sites Friday, you would have thought the Buccaneers had just lost the Super Bowl. Disappointment, criticism and even outright panic was the norm across the board today following Tampa Bay’s 31-14 loss to the New England Patriots Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium. Raheem Morris took to the podium at One Buccaneer Place this afternoon to discuss his staff’s philosophy for New England, what went wrong, and even a few bright spots in the Buccaneers’ second preseason game of 2011.
“Last night we got outplayed physically,” Morris said. “It was good to play a team like that and to play when they are in that type of rhythm so you can evaluate some guys. And they won some of their one-on-one matchups that you want us to win. We lost those battles. But it was good to evaluate to see without a scheme and things of that nature. It’s always good to see who could win, who could not win and I got a pretty good idea of that from last night.”
Morris told the media the two teams came into the game with a different set of ideas on how they wanted the game plan to unfold.
“Everybody handles things a little bit differently,” Morris said. “In that second game [we] got a little more situational football, how they wanted to play against that team. That’s the reason they brought back in Tom [Brady] to execute their two-minute offense. Where as last night, we were rules ball. Just let guys go out there and play. We wanted to get about 20 snaps with our first group. Got a little more to try and get something going. It’s a different approach to how you attack the preseason.
“A lot of people would ask the question, ‘Why didn’t you game plan for guys like the Patriots?’ It’s because I want to see what you can do without me giving it to you. And then what I want to see this week [is] what you can do with me giving it to you and you adjusting. There is a level of stage on how we prepare and we have kept that same level for a long time."
“We have our way of doing things, and they have their way of doing things,” Morris continued. “And I don’t want to knock anything that anyone else does. I just know they prepared a little differently just based on some evaluation. For us it's more about our guys picking it up in the heat of the moment and letting that player come out in order to find the ones that are going to make our football team."
"If I give them all the answers to the test you can get a bad player that can show up and play just enough to make our football team. But if I don’t give those guys all the answers to the test, then they are on equal ground, and have a chance to compete and find out who knows what we do, and how we want to do it the best. And that puts us in a position to go out there and play football.”
The Buccaneers’ head coach wasn’t pleased with his team’s overall play but knows it was just a preseason game and he didn’t appear to lose any sleep over the final score. The plan was to see how the young Buccaneers would react to certain looks.
“Not as much as had we prepared for every Patriot blitz,” Morris said. “Not all of it was on the offensive line. Some of it was on the quarterback not making the correct call you want to see at that point and that stage. So I’m not as disappointed as you might be had [we] come out in Week One and that happen. By then you would expect to have all the adjustments right. It’s a big difference on how you would [have] judged those guys. The physical play, the one-on-one battles, the technique stuff. The penalties last night were what I was most concerned with.
“So I would say I was obviously disappointed in not being able to pick up a certain look or scheme because we didn’t give it to them that way. We just wanted to go play baseball, follow our rules and see who could pick up the rules; see who could communicate and see who could play on their feet.”
With nearly complete domination by the Patriots first-team units, the Buccaneers’ third-year coach was still able to find some positives, even in defeat.
“McCoy was actually the bright spot for the defensive line,” Morris said. “He got off the ball great. He was very active with his hands. He missed one big play that he could have made to prevent the big breakout run. He wasn’t the reason. He actually missed the play but the play should have still been stopped. We had a breakdown in our shooter awareness. For the most part, the play of him up front was really the bright spot for the defensive line.
“Obviously Elbert Mack had a big-time game last night. He had about five tackles, he had the interception for a touchdown and he had a knocked-down pass. He played really tough. Corey Lynch played really well for us. Hustling, hitting, doing all the things you do as a safety. That second core of defensive backs came in and played really well. Larry Asante had a couple more busts than he did the week before. He played physical; aggressive. He did some of the things we want to see. As far as that standpoint, Dekoda Watson again was another factor, a factor in the Tim Crowder sack forcing the quarterback to step up. [Also] the two-minute defense, with that first-team offense coming back in. Those guys getting a stop right before the half, that was a real game-time simulated situation so that whole crew of two-minute defensive guys that were out there [was encouraging].”
Rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster had some ups and downs but overall Morris liked Foster’s effort for the most part.
“Mason playing as physical as he has. You know he is still getting better. He’s fun [to watch]. Right now you see him not quite sure on certain things. But you love the physical tools. The hand usage, the speed, the power, the pop. He got another big hit last night, with the penalty [unnecessary roughness]. But that's something we have got to coach. You don’t want to deter that away from Mason, either. So you aren’t going to let that be a deterrent for how physical you want him to play. You have to abide by the rules, obviously, but you have to keep that type of mindset in your Mike linebacker's mentality.”
Morris went on to discuss the individual efforts of several other players, particularly the offensive lineman.
“Trueblood play probably his most solid game I’ve seen him play in a while. He looked very productive. Davin [Joseph] looked okay. He made one mistake that is very correctable and [Donald] Penn didn’t play great. He didn’t play terrible, but he didn’t play awesome. Faine was very solid. Zuttah came in and did a nice job. James Lee didn’t play particularly well. As well as he did towards the end of last season when he was really competing. We want to get him better.”
The lessons learned from the New England game will benefit the Buccaneers down the road, Morris feels.
“I don’t know if it was all about the fight,” Morris said. “I just think they executed a lot better than we did last night. It’s all about execution when you play a team like that. Whenever you play a really good team like that - [like] the New Orleans Saints, the Patriots, a quick-moving, fast-huddle team - scheme-wise they are going to look a little faster. You can probably attribute some of the physical losses to that. Those are some of the things you want to individually win. But next week we will get some scheme differences to try and help some of our guys.”
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