After last year’s 10-6 record, the bar had moved up for the Buccaneers in 2011. At 4-5 through nine games, the Bucs are showing signs of stress and strain.
Recently, the Bucs have been pushing the fact that they have a difficult schedule, even though their schedule is virtually identical to the schedules assigned to the other teams in their division. The only glaring difference is that the Bucs played the 49ers in the NFC West, while the Saints faced the Rams (the Saints lost to the Rams) and the Falcons played the Seahawks (the Falcons nearly lost in Seattle).
Other than the fact that the Bucs play the Cowboys while the Saints play the Giants and the Falcons play the Eagles, the schedules are identical.
But this item isn’t about bashing the Bucs for making excuses. This is about whether coach Raheem Morris is too worried about what others say about his team, even as he tries to act like he doesn’t care.
In response to a recent column from Mike Lombardi of NFL.com that blames the Bucs’ uncanny inconsistency on coaching, Morris said the criticism didn’t bother him, even though it appears that Lombardi found a way to get under Raheem’s skin.
Without even being asked about the column, Morris had this to say at a Friday press conference, via Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times: “Here’s the deal. When we were young kids, right? I went to school, I was 6 years old, 7 years old. And this guy saw my grandmother and said my grandmother ran like a bulldog. And I beat the heck out of him. I beat the heck out of him. I went home and my mom was so disappointed that I beat the heck out of him. She said, ‘Don’t worry. It doesn’t matter what people say about you. It doesn’t matter what people say about your family.’ So I learned that lesson a long time ago not to get upset with clowns that don’t really know what they’re talking about that have something to say. So we’ve moved on. I learned that lesson. I don’t have to react to that kind of stuff.’'
But he did react to it, by making a point of the fact that it didn’t bother him. Which means that, at a certain level, it bothered him. Otherwise, he would have said nothing about it.
And it possibly bothered him because it was accurate.
Either way, Morris needs to find a way to get his team to play well on a consistent basis, regardless of whether they’re playing a tough slate of games, or an easy one. And he needs to realize that, when things aren’t going well, criticism goes with the territory.