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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris calling out all, including self

Eagles defensive end Darren Howard drives Bucs quarterback Josh Johnson to the ground, forcing an incompletion, in the third quarter Sunday. Johnson was sacked three times and pressured numerous times.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Eagles defensive end Darren Howard drives Bucs quarterback Josh Johnson to the ground, forcing an incompletion, in the third quarter Sunday. Johnson was sacked three times and pressured numerous times.

TAMPA — Raheem Morris had always been a glass-half-full guy when it came to addressing his players during their winless start.

But the Bucs coach felt too much goodwill had already been spilled on an 0-5 team, so sweet talk was replaced with tough love Monday, a day after a 33-14 loss to the Eagles.

"This week, I might be a little bit more negative with those guys, because some of the better players we have in the building didn't make their plays," Morris said.

"Extremely disappointed in (Sunday's) result, how it played out. The bottom line is we had too many missed opportunities by too many of our good players, and we're just not getting it done right now."

Morris had some stinging criticisms for both sides of the football and addressed players by name.

He met individually with receiver Michael Clayton, who dropped three more passes Sunday to give him an NFC-leading seven this season. Last week, after failing to catch a pass in two straight games, Clayton publicly lobbied for more opportunities.

"I brought him to my office and let him know, and we'll talk one-on-one and we'll talk to the team about all those things," Morris said. "But he's got to stand up and do that every week. He's got to go out there and play like he did vs. Dallas. He's counted on. He's one of the guys we're depending on. He knows that, and he's got to play like that, and he hasn't been.

"You've got to be accountable, so careful what you ask for, careful what you wish for. And I'm sure he's feeling that remorse today."

Clayton was not the only offender on offense. Receiver Antonio Bryant, the team's franchise player with a $9.88 million salary, dropped two passes. And the offensive line did a poor job of handling the Eagles' blitz package; that stopped the run game in its tracks and left quarterback Josh Johnson to run for his life.

Johnson scrambled for 40 yards and running back Derrick Ward had a 28-yard breakout run. Aside from that, the Bucs rushed 16 times for 17 yards.

"I'm going to tell my team here for a minute, but Cadillac (Williams) made some plays by himself," Morris said. "It would've been the same result if nobody was out there on some of those plays. I'm going to tell them that, and they need to hear it."

The Bucs might get some help Sunday against Carolina. Center Jeff Faine, who has missed four games with a left triceps injury, said Monday that he believes he will play against the Panthers.

Morris saved some barbs for the defense, as well. Tampa Bay has given up eight pass plays of more than 40 yards, including two Sunday against the Eagles. This time, Philadelphia rookie Jeremy Maclin beat cornerback Elbert Mack for a 51-yard touchdown on the second offensive snap for the Eagles and beat Ronde Barber and Will Allen in double coverage for a 40-yard touchdown before halftime.

"On defense, we've got to stop giving up the big play, and it can't be about the same guy giving up the big play every time," Morris said, referring to Mack. "We've got to go back and figure out how not to give up the big play, and that one individual has to stand up.

"(Mack) has got to step up and play more consistent. He's got to get better, because right now, he's the best option."

Morris was even critical of his coaching staff and himself. After tight end Kellen Winslow scored his second touchdown, he said, he should've gone for a two-point conversion to make it a two-score game.

"We had our coaches meeting this morning. We got our faces ripped off as a coaching staff, me included," Morris said.

"I'm the same dude. I'm going to smile in the face of adversity because I know where we're going. I've got all the confidence in the world we know what we're doing. I've got confidence in my ownership, I've got confidence in my management, I've got confidence in my coaches, and I've got confidence in my players.

"And the ones I've got to get better, I will. And I'll tolerate them until I can replace them."

Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris calling out all, including self 10/12/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 12, 2009 10:44pm]
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