Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris wanted a physical, violent football team, but it’s clear that his young Buccaneers were out-hit by the veteran New York Giants in Sunday’s 24-0 loss at Raymond James Stadium.
“We were clearly out-manned today,” Morris said in his post-game press conference. “We were beat by a grown-man team today, a team we want to be like one day. They came in here and took it to us. They out-manned us, out-gunned us. They were the better team today, clearly. It wasn’t even close.”
On Monday, Morris revealed that there would be some changes aside from the quarterback switch from Byron Leftwich to Josh Johnson to try to shake things up in order to prevail in Washington on Sunday and claim its first victory of the year. Morris said that he would call for more physically demanding practices when practice resumes on Wednesday at One Buccaneer Place to prepare for Sunday's game at Washington.
“Last week we had the injuries, and I don’t complain about the injuries at all,” Morris said. “We practiced [in full pads] and had to kind of taper it down [as the week went on]. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m going to prepare a little differently this week. That’s me self-evaluating. I’m asking them to do it, so I’ve got to do it. There will be a change in how we prepare.
“At the start of week we practiced with our pads on like we’ve been doing. Then we tapered it down as we went. We went to OTA tempo then it went through a walk-through at the end. Maybe we have to shorten the periods to keep our physical tempo through to the game. I might be off the field a lot faster this week, but it’s going to be a lot more physical work done in pads with men going against men.”
It’s not uncommon for teams to taper down the full pads and the hitting as the week goes on and foregoing pads on Friday and certainly during the walk-through on Saturday. But Morris wants his team to become more physical on offense and defense and may resort to having his team wear pads through Friday’s practice, too. There is certainly an increased risk of injury with this approach, but Morris is hoping that tougher practices will result in tougher performances come game time on Sunday.
The Bucs allowed over 200 yards rushing for the second straight week, while generating only 86 yards on offense against the Giants, which ranks as the third worst performance in team history.
During Monday’s press conference, Morris indicated that among several players making mental mistakes, some made physical mistakes, such as tight end Kellen Winslow not squaring up his shoulder pads and fighting for a first down on third-and-5 in the first quarter and falling one yard short.
“Yes, you have to,” Morris said. “We all have to question ourselves. We all have to have that want to. I think Aqib Talib should have picked off that first pass on the first drive. I think Kellen Winslow should have gotten that first down on third-and-5. I think Jeremy Zuttah should not have jumped offsides on the opening drive. I don’t want to call out names, but that’s the reality of what we do. You guys can see that.”
Morris said that halftime was spent more on the Bucs’ shortcomings regarding the physical aspect of football rather than the mental or tactical aspects of the game.
“Adjustments weren’t really the issue,” Morris said. “The Giants were in the spots that we thought they would be in. It’s just that when they got to those spots they were bigger, better men yesterday. They were bigger, better men on tape this morning. It was not like a scheme issue where they had this great scheme that was completely fooling us. At the point of attack, they physically beat us, or we physically beat ourselves or we mentally beat ourselves by jumping offsides, with a dropped ball, or not getting a first down on third-and-4. It was a self-check at halftime. Let’s go out and man up. We have the ball first. If we go out and score on this first drive it’s 14-7 and we’re back in this game.”
Aside from Morris saying that the Bucs practices are going to become tougher this week, he revealed that one of his toughest players, center Jeff Faine, is closer to coming back from his torn triceps.
“Yes, he is actually getting better fast – a lot faster than we thought,” Morris said. “I don’t have a day [when he will return], but he is getting better. I’m getting positive reinforcement from my training staff as far as Jeff Faine is concerned.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org