Less than 24 hours after suffering their fifth defeat of the season, the game film looked no better according to head coach Raheem Morris and some Buccaneers players.
“Evaluated the tape and it was exactly what you thought,” Morris said. “It was a bad day for Buccaneer football. Didn’t look good and again I've got to put that on myself like I did last night. No different. This week and for the rest of the season [we] can’t be concerned about preservation so much. [We need to] get physically better — it’s what we need to do.”
Defensive end Michael Bennett agreed with his head coach. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
“No, it doesn’t look any better [24 hours later],” Bennett said. “That kind of performance as a defense … everybody has got their heads down for a couple days. But we have to get on to the next game. We have to start getting ready for Green Bay.”
And while Morris continues to take the blame for the team’s poor performance, players PewterReport.com spoke to said Morris can’t get on the field and play for them.
“He's the head coach and that's what he's supposed to say,” veteran cornerback Aqib Talib said. “It ain’t all on Rah. It’s not him. We're the players out there. It’s on everybody. It’s on the Bucs.”
“It can’t be on him,” Bennett said. “He can’t be in the game. At some point and time it has to be about the players. No matter what play the coach calls we still have to execute it. Clearly we aren’t executing the plays the coaches are calling. We have to do better at that.
“We've got to take the heat off of him. In the public eye he is the one getting blamed for a lot of stuff, but really, like I said, it's the players. It's the defense. As an offense we have to play better. On special teams we have to play better. We have to do better at everything."
The major problem on the defensive side of the football was again poor tackling according to Talib and Bennett.
“They had four really big plays in the game that really killed us,” Bennett said. “We just need to tackle better. One of the biggest things is that. The last four weeks we have played against some of the best backs in the NFL [and] as a defense you have to hold up. They are going to run through arm tackles and you have to get your body on them."
“I want go to the effort [excuse] but as a defense we have to get off blocks and make more plays,” Talib said. “From watching the plays it didn’t look like we didn’t want to get off the blocks. We just weren’t shedding those blocks. But I wouldn’t say it was our [lack of] effort though.
“Got to get back to it [gang tackling] if we want to do something. We've got to get back to it. There isn’t any other way to play defense. We are supposed to have pride in it and we aren’t doing it right now.”
While the new CBA limits the number of padded practices (14 padded practices for the entirety of the season, 11 of those sessions must be held in the first 11 weeks) Morris said it was time to get more physical during the week.
“The answer is putting on some pads,” Morris said. “I got my mulligan this week so I can put it on twice this week and get as many as I can based on the rules to get these guys going. We got to make plays in pads [and] both on offense and defense and special teams.”
Bennett said he has no problems suiting up during the week. In fact, the Buccaneers starting left defensive end said the team needs to improve even in practice.
“We need to go out and execute better at practice,” Bennett said. “Because at practice that translates to the game. Some people don’t realize some of the best players to ever play any sport practiced well. You hear about Michael Jordan and his practice habits. That’s why he was the best.
“This game was made to be played in pads,” Bennett said. “On Sunday you play in pads. You don’t play in shirts. People are really trying to score. It’s not like you can get better with the least amount of pads. You've got to have padded practices, especially as a defense. Maybe not so much on offense, but on defense you have to be able to hit and get used to hitting in the game.”
The road to improvement won’t get any easier next week as the team is traveling to play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Besides facing the reigning Super Bowl champions, who could also be undefeated come Sunday with a Monday night win over Minnesota, the weather won’t be in the Buccaneers' favor. Early forecasts are calling for temperatures in the low 40’s and rain.
Players and coaches know time is running out to turn this season around, but don’t seem fazed by their next opponent. Not outwardly, anyway.
“This week is the best challenge in the league,” Talib said. “We're going to start something. It’s got to be this week. We have the best team in the league so we have to prepare like we are playing the best and get it right, right now.”
"That’s awesome. This is the best time for us to play those guys, “Morris said. “We’ve got the best team in the National Football League lined up on deck ready to deal. I’ve got a chance to go upstairs and get a rebound and make all you guys [the media] love me again next week."