TAMPA — Stopping 247-pound running back LeGarrette Blount is not easy. But in Sunday's 27-20 loss to the Lions, one man contained the Bucs' 1,000-yard rusher.
Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris.
Blount was limited to 15 yards on five carries — including one attempt in the second half — because of Morris' decision to begin the third quarter in the no-huddle, two-minute offense trailing by a touchdown.
Morris second-guessed that strategy Monday, while Blount said he deserves to play more.
"I feel like … I'm a playmaker on this team also, so I feel like I should be on the football field more," Blount said.
"We got away from our game plan. We got away from getting me the football; we got away from giving Mike (Williams) opportunity balls. It was just things like that … I don't know if we panicked, but we kind of got away from that really early."
Morris took responsibility. Blount is replaced at tailback in the two-minute package by Earnest Graham. The Bucs compiled 185 of their 313 total yards and their only offensive touchdown using the hurryup offense in the fourth quarter.
"That's not how we want to win games," Morris said. "We want to win games with Blount bludgeoning you for 130 yards and us having a couple of play-action bombs and being efficient with (quarterback Josh Freeman).
"When we go to that two-minute offense like that, we kind of take Blount out of the game. That's something we don't want to do. We have a weapon in Blount. We want to run the ball with him."
In fact, Morris said he deserves blame for the team straying from the game plan when it did.
"Maybe we went to it too early," Morris said. "That's something for me to second-guess, that's something for me to improve, that's something for me to get better at. You can blame me for that. … But I was giving our offense a chance to get going, and we got it going in that two-minute at the end (of the first half) and got the three.
"I should've given us another chance back to our game plan."
Blount rushed for 1,007 yards last season despite starting seven games. But he said coaches don't trust him enough to play in the two-minute offensive sets and prefer to go with Graham.
"I have to respect the coach's call," Blount said. "You've got to do what they tell you. If they feel the need to run the two-minute offense the entire second half, we didn't run the ball much the first half, so it's up to them."
But Morris did not spare any criticism of his players Monday.
He said the Bucs need to get better play at nose tackle, specifically Roy Miller and Frank Okam, and also players such as linebackers Quincy Black and Geno Hayes.
"We need better plays out of our studs," Morris said. "We needed Quincy Black to play bigger, Geno Hayes and some of those guys to play better and bigger for us. Talking to my coaches, I thought we kind of blinked a little bit. Some of our young players did blink a little bit."
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson went even further. He suggested Freeman and others on offense lost their "swagger."
"There was just a different feeling on the sideline a little bit," Olson said Monday. "That's why I come back to that swagger. There's no reason for this team to blink; you guys are a good football team and believe that. … You're playing against a good football team, certainly, the Lions, but you're a good football team yourself, so there's no reason for anybody on this team to blink and be in an 'Oh, no' mode. … Just settle down, take a deep breath and play football."
Olson said he was concerned that Freeman had to leave because of dehydration in the third quarter. Freeman returned after receiving intravenous fluids, but Olson suggested it might have been related to anxiety.
"That was definitely a concern coming out, so we've got to look at what he's doing to hydrate his body early in the week," Olson said. "For me, seeing that, I thought that was very early for him. Part of that, I think, is lessening the anxiety of our players and developing that swagger that, 'Hey, there's no need for any of us to be nervous out here.' "