On at least three occasions this season, Bucs coach Raheem Morris accused his team of not trying hard enough. On Monday, he accused some players of trying too hard.
During the 48-16 loss at Carolina on Saturday, several players tried so hard to make plays they took themselves out position to be successful, Morris said. Those mistakes and the inability of several players to transfer what they are taught in practice to game were the reasons Tampa Bay lost its ninth straight game, he said.
"We are just not transitioning what we do in practice well enough,'' Morris said. "Guys get in a game and, whatever happens, they want to make a play and then instinct happens and you start to make up stuff.
"Those things can't happen to you as a football team. You have to trust in what you practice all week and in what is going to happen. Every once in a while, you can guess and make a play. But right now, we have guys trying to make plays outside the box and missing the (plays they are) supposed to make."
Tight end Kellen Winslow's fumble after a long reception in the third quarter was a perfect example, Morris said, of a player trying to do too much and the problems that come as a result.
Winslow fumbled after he tried to leap over a standing defender during a 22-yard reception. The Panthers recovered and scored six plays later to take a 34-10 lead in the third quarter.
Safety Tanard Jackson's decision to jump a short pass route during a play that resulted in a 91-yard touchdown pass for the Panthers, Morris said, was an example of playing outside the box.'
"When you're an older player and you jump the man that's not in your zone and you kind of get outside of your box in order to make a play … that can't happen,'' said Morris. "Those things won't be accepted or tolerated.''
Follow the leader
Morris is convinced his players are still playing hard for him, as evidenced by Winslow's attempt to leap a defender.
"Kellen Winslow is a prime example of, 'I'm going to win this game despite everything around me for Raheem,' '' Morris said. " No doubt in my mind that he was thinking that when he jumped over that guy. It was not a selfish act. He was trying to score.
"And they've been like that. The idea that I lost them and all that garbage talk, there's no doubt in my mind that stuff is not even close because of (the) 61 men in that we have in that (locker) room.''
Tampa Bay's game against Atlanta, which was moved from a 1 p.m. kickoff to 4:15 p.m., is not the only game featuring NFC South opponents that was flexed by the league. The New Orleans game against Carolina also was moved to 4:15 p.m. so the Falcons won't know the outcome of the Saints' game when they kickoff against the Bucs.
The loss at Carolina marked the second time this season the Bucs gave up 48 points. If they do so against Atlanta, they'll become the first team since 1990 to give up 48 points three times in one season, according to ESPN stats.