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Plenty of blame to go around for disappointing Tampa Bay Buccaneers


They stink. There is no other way to say it.

They are awful. At this point, there is no way to pretty it up.

This is not a good team in a bad stretch. This is not a team cursed by luck and bad bounces. This is a team that is regressing so badly it might be 1985 by the time it wakes up.

They are Leeman Bennett bad, and they are Ray Perkins bad, and they are Richard Williamson bad. They are Keith McCants bad, and they are Booker Reese bad, and they are Charles McRae bad. They are winking-pirate, bags-on-the-head, execute-the-offense bad. They are bad on offense, and they are bad on defense, and they are bad on special teams.

Last year's improvement, it turns out, was fool's gold. It was a tease, a mirage, an illusion.

And now for the question:

Whose fault is this?

The Bucs were embarrassed Sunday afternoon so badly, losing to Houston 37-9, that it seemed they had turned back time to those wretched days of the '80s. Any minute, you expected Chris Chandler and Lars Tate to break the huddle, just like in the old days. It would have been a bigger margin, but evidently, Texans coach Gary Kubiak was being nice.

This is what a once-promising team has become. It has become a plodding, undisciplined mess. The question is not why fans booed on Sunday; it is why they didn't boo on every play. The question is not why the Bucs didn't win this game; it's how they managed to win four.

So who is to blame? Everyone. Line up the suspects, and you will not find an alibi in the bunch.

Raheem Morris? Yeah, it's his fault.

Ask yourself this: Does this look like a well-coached team? Does it have the precision, the discipline, that well-coached teams seem to have? Does it look like young players are getting better? Does it look like mistakes are being corrected?

No. Also, no, no and no.

As for Morris, he pled guilty on Sunday. He accepted full blame, and he kept answering questions by offering himself up as a target. "I can't believe these guys are that bad," he said, "so it must be my fault."

Just a hunch, but a lot of people are bound to agree with him.

If you are honest, the bad is bigger than the head coach. Still, this is the first real crisis point for Morris. His first year finished 3-13, but that was the beginning of a youth movement. And last year, when the team seemed to buy into everything he said, it won 10 games.

This year, however, the team seems to have tuned out. It has now lost four of its past five games, and it looks as if 2010 never happened. Check the calendar, because it seems like 2009 again.

If nothing else, it is time for a different approach. Voices need to be raised, and furniture needs to be thrown. Careers are at risk here.

Does that mean Morris' seat is about to get hot? Maybe. My gut feeling is that he has at least through next season, but that could change if the results do not.

Mark Dominik? Yeah, it's his fault, too.

At this point, don't you kind of question the Bucs' decision to sit out free agency? With more potential answers than ever on the market, the Bucs and their general manager kept a pat hand. And right now, they could use some help.

The team is slow, but it makes up for it by not playing smart. The only thing worse than the offense might be the defense. Who knows when it will win again?

You wonder: Did last year fool the front office, too? Did the team think it was better than it has turned out to be?

Josh Freeman? Yeah, his finger­prints are on this, too.

Put it bluntly. Right now, Freeman is not a very good quarterback. Last year, he was among the top 10 in football. This year? I'm not sure he's among the top two dozen. He has become a checkdown quarterback, where every third and 10 is answered with a 6-yard attempt.

The curious thing? Freeman insists he's a better quarterback. If you judge by production, he is not.

The defense? Yeah, it's at fault, too.

Just wondering, but what's the record for missed tackles? Where are the linebackers? Where are the safeties? For crying out loud, where is anybody? (Barrett Ruud is in Tennessee, but everyone else remains a mystery.)

For Morris, a defensive coach, this has to be the biggest disappointment. The Bucs can't cover, and they can't tackle, and they can't rush. It seems as if they are playing with about seven players on every play, and the sad part is, you don't know which seven.

The offense? Yes, there is blame enough to go around.

With Mike Williams, with LeGarrette Blount, this was supposed to be among the Bucs' best offenses. But when is the last time anyone took your breath away? When is the last time a play call impressed you? (Hint: It wasn't on fourth and 2, when the Bucs thought a jump ball in the end zone was its best option.)

Look, if Morris wants to take the blame for this one, fine. Give it to him. Give the 49ers loss to Dominik, and the Bears loss to Freeman, and the Lions loss to the offense and the Saints loss to the defense.

Who is at fault? Blame everyone. There has been enough ugly to go around.

The better question: Can anyone here make it better?

Plenty of blame to go around for disappointing Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11/13/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 14, 2011 8:24am]
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