An ugly screaming match that erupted into a scuffle between teammates in the locker room following the Bucs 22-19 loss at Carolina Sunday involved the off-sides penalty by defensive tackle Chris Baker.
Apparently, several Bucs players took issue with Baker smiling and lack-of-remorse attitude following the game.
During the incident, captured on the post-game radio show, linebacker Lavonte David is heard yelling to stop quarterback Jameis Winston from confronting Baker.
"Yo, yo, Jameis! Jameis! Jameis!'' David shouts.
Then middle linebacker Kwon Alexander begins swearing at Baker. David left the interview to intervene.
Here was the flash point.
The Bucs were up 19-15 with 3:05 to play and the ball on the Panthers 31-yard line. It was fourth-and-7. Coach Dirk Koetter tried to make it a seven-point lead.
Patrick Murray missed a 51 yarder wide right. The Panthers took over at the Tampa Bay 41 and in four plays were deep into Bucs' territory. Facing fourth-and-3 at the 5-yard line, Baker was warned by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and others to watch the hard count of quarterback Cam Newton, who had drawn several encroachment penalties.
"Yeah, he had a good hard count,'' Baker said. "We were aware of that at the beginning of the game. We've got to be aware of his hard count. I just had a mental error, because right before the snap, Gerald and the other guys told me to be alert for the hard count and I just got anxious and made a bad play.''
McCoy confirmed he had warned Baker.
"Yes I did,'' McCoy said. "Whatever. Moving on. Next.''
The penalty made it a much easier fourth-and-1 situation for running back Jonathan Stewart to convert.
On the next play, Newton fumbled the snap but still ran for the winning touchdown.
Baker, who signed a three-year, $15.75-million contract as a free agent from the Redskins, hasn't lived up to expectations this season. He has 32 tackles and a half sack.
What's more, some players and coaches feel as if his attitude has been poor from the beginning in terms of effort, especially given what the Bucs are paying him. Unfortunately, the level of accountability demonstrated in the locker room Sunday didn't happen earlier in the season or training camp.