TAMPA — Before taking the podium at his postgame news conference on Sunday and telling the media to point fingers at him, Bucs coach Raheem Morris accepted the blame for Sunday's loss in front of his team.
But players acknowledged Monday that they should bear much of the blame for the 39-7 loss to Houston, which extended their losing streak to three.
"It can't be on (Morris)," DE Michael Bennett said. "He's not in the game playing. At some point in time, it's not about the coaches. It's about the players. It doesn't matter what play the coach calls. We still have to execute. Clearly we're not executing the plays the coaches are calling and we need to find a way."
Said CB Aqib Talib: "He's the head coach. That's what he's supposed to say. But we're out there (playing). We're the players. It's on everybody."
The Bucs, a team of mostly young players, have responded to Morris in his first two seasons despite their inexperience. He is well-liked in the locker room and popular among his players, who aren't oblivious to the scrutiny Morris is under.
"We have to take the heat off of him," Bennett said. "He's getting blamed for a lot of stuff. But it's the players. As a defense, we have to play better. As an offense, we have to play better. As special teams, we have to play better."
MCCARGO BACK: The knee injury suffered by DE George Johnson on Sunday ended his season. He went on injured reserve, replaced by DL John McCargo — who the Bucs released less than a week ago.
McCargo signed after a tryout Tuesday, only to be released a day later when the Bucs landed Albert Haynesworth off waivers from the Patriots. McCargo spent a portion of the preseason with the Bucs and provides depth on the interior.
NOT WHAT IT SEEMED: Some might wonder why the Bucs called a low-percentage fade pass on fourth and 2 from the Houston 5-yard line. In reality, they didn't.
WR Dez Briscoe, the target of Josh Freeman's incomplete pass, said he wasn't a primary option, though he had an opportunity to make the catch.
"The play call wasn't designed for me," Briscoe said. "But I came off (the line of scrimmage) like I was getting the ball anyway. I turned around and the ball was there.
"The play was designed for either Kellen (Winslow) or (Preston) Parker. But I was alert and I looked back and the ball was in the air. We probably would've needed more time for them to get open so Josh tried to make a play. It just didn't go down the way it was supposed to. It wasn't a tough play. I just didn't make the play. It's a play I usually make."
GOOD START: Morris said Haynesworth played well in his first game with Tampa Bay, providing a building block for the rest of the season. Haynesworth played many more snaps than he did in New England, and did so with impact.
"He played a good game," Morris said. "He was excited to be a new place. He was excited to go out there and play 47 snaps. He was excited to go out there and make seven tackles for us. … To go out there and play as well as he did and be as effective as he was is promising."