Nothing gained from Raheem Morris' complaints about Bucs schedule
Bucs coach Raheem Morris has raised some eyebrows after saying this week the Bucs' intense schedule has a lot to do with their current three-game losing streak and overall 4-5 mark.
He told the Times on Thursday, "Without making excuses, we are playing a tougher schedule. We are playing tougher teams. There's no doubt about it. You can look at the guys we've lost to... Houston is a tough team. The Saints are tough. Nobody knew the San Francisco 49ers were that tough, and they are. They didn't just beat our butts, they beat some other teams, too. And Detroit has shown they're pretty good."
This was after he told Green Bay reporters the same thing a day earlier.
It was all very bizarre for a couple of reasons. For one, NFL coaches almost never publicly say anything about the difficulty of their schedules. Secondly, Morris often goes well out of his way to avoid even the appearance of excuse making. This, however, sounds a lot like, well, excuse making.
Before I go on, an important point: He's right. The Bucs, after playing the Packers on Sunday, will have played one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. At Grantland.com, writer Bill Barnwell uses a migraine-inducing formula to suggest that the current stretch the Bucs are on is among the toughest in the past 18 years.
But here's where this gets sticky. If the Bucs want to point out -- as they've quietly been doing all week -- that their schedule has been brutal, they must also concede that last season's schedule was tame by comparison. That's when the Bucs went 10-6 and nearly qualified for the playoffs despite beating just one team with a winning record (the Saints). Many in the organization took great offense to the suggestion that last season's success was a mirage.
But, now, Morris is practically discrediting his own achievements in 2010 by indicating that the Bucs have fallen short this season as a result of who they've played.
Another problem with these statements: They don't take into account the fact that the Bucs have been uncompetitive in some of these losses. A 48-3 loss to the 49ers and 37-9 loss to the Texans should never happen, no matter how disparate the teams. Against the Bears and Saints, though the scores were closer, the Bucs played terribly and never seemed to threaten.
Finally, with coaches this week demanding better effort against the Packers on Sunday, the last thing you'd think they would want is to confuse that message by giving players an excuse to have a poor performance. Could this be perceived as such? Maybe.
So, the question lingers: Why is talking about this a good idea?