Last Sunday’s disturbing loss to the Texans was made worse by what was perceived by some as a lack of effort and hustle. Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris, after reviewing the game film, also noticed some plays in which he considered to be loafs.
Both Morris and defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake commented this week on what constitutes a loaf and also about a code of core beliefs that the organization has held for a number of years.
“I didn’t start it,” Morris said Wednesday during his post practice press conference. “This started well before me, probably well before Coach [Tony] Dungy. I know we added on to it since I’ve been here with [former defensive coordinator] Coach [Monte] Kiffin and former [defensive line] coach Rod Marinelli.
Morris went on to describe the code in detail.
“A loaf is defined in seven different rules and it’s about getting passed up by another color on your team. It’s called not finishing the play aggressively and it’s different throughout the different position groups.
“So, if you get passed up by a DB and you’re a lineman, that wouldn’t be getting passed up by another color. Now, if you’re a DB and you get passed up by a D-lineman, that’s considered a loaf.”
While neither Morris nor Lake singled out a specific player, it was clear two that stood out were on the Texans' two longest plays of the game: an 80-yard first-play of the game TD by Jacoby Jones and a 78-yard catch and run by Arian Foster.
“We hold these guys to a high standard,” Lake said. “But for whatever reason, on a couple plays, we had a guy not going in his lane in the way he should have and that is what Raheem was referring to as a loaf. Obviously it shows up big time when a big play hits us. A check down in the flat goes for 78 yards. That shouldn’t happen.
“It has been a mentality around here forever. It’s a reason we have played great defense here for a long time. It's up in every single room. What is a loaf? Loafs are seven things. It's a code around here that we all live by. And a lot of people have pride about it."
Morris also added a few more examples or what breaking the code is.
“A loaf can be a really bad missed tackle because you didn’t finish a play aggressively. Those are things you have to make mention of to your football team in order to get those guys to feel such urgency and responsibility to one another. Nobody wants to have loafs on their role.”
When speaking with Lake after practice this week, it wasn't difficult to recognize the frustration in his eyes thinking back on those plays. But Lake reminded PewterReport.com, and maybe himself, that it happens even to veteran defenses.
“We've always had to have a wakeup call, whether it was my first year here or this year,” Lake said. “All 11 aren’t running to the football right now, whether it's one play or two plays. It’s not a problem that we have had every single football game. But it shows up a couple of plays here or there.
“We tell guys they can play fast and shoot on a person's leg because if you miss, the next guy's coming. All of a sudden, if you get to this mentality where this one guy misses playing fast and physical and that next guy isn’t there, now you see big plays.
“We need all guys to the football. All eleven surging to the ball. That’s Tampa 2, and every once in a while we need a wakeup call. And we got one last week.”
Rookie defensive end Adrian Clayborn is already familiar with the code.
“You never you want to be that guy not hustling to the ball,” Clayborn said. “You always want to be that guy making the extra effort. It's kind of like when something swarms on something. Not just one guy making the tackle but everyone swarming to the ball.”
Cornerback E.J. Biggers also knows how important it is to follow the code and how important it was for the Buccaneers teams that came before him.
“That code is the core beliefs of the defense.,” Biggers said. “That's going to make you play hard and smart and consistent. All the things Raheem talks about. Hustling to the ball, no loafs, no missed opportunities. All that stuff triggers into your play if you follow those core beliefs.
“That was the winning edge [during the playoff years] and not just on defense, but offense too. That was the winning edge to this Tampa Bay organization. We just need to get back to those things. Individually, if you get better, then the whole team will be better.”
While never used as an excuse Morris did say even some of the best to ever suit up in orange and white or red and pewter have been rung up by their position coaches for a violation of the code.
“Loafs are inevitable at times, due to fatigue and where we play,” Morris said. “But you never want to have them. I can hear right now Derrick Brooks arguing with Joe Barry about a loaf or arguing about a minus for that matter. He didn’t want to have them. It was a sense of pride built throughout the defense that made that defense great.
"You can walk through the building and in every single defensive room you can see the sign there. It’s embedded in everybody’s playbook. That’s what you've got to become to become a really good defense; a really good team period.”