Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris has a code he asks his players to live by. The first two words of it are "play hard.'' For the third time this year Sunday, Morris had to admit his players didn't comply.
"Generally we haven't had the play hard deal,'' Morris said in the wake of the Bucs eighth-straight loss, this one a 31-15 setback at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. "But last night, I've got to say, they've got to play harder than last night.''
Morris classified the Bucs effort in their losses at San Francisco and against Houston as subpar as well, but their lack of competitiveness against Dallas seemed particularly gnawing to him. The timing may be the reason.
At a time when Morris' future is clearly in jeopardy, he failed yet again to get a winning effort out of a team that never failed to play hard for him even during his difficult 3-13 maiden voyage.
Bucs management even cited the consistent competitive nature of the 2009 Bucs as one of their primary reasons for retaining Morris following his rookie year as coach. Now he may not even have that going for him.
"These guys work hard, they practice hard, and in general they play hard, so I wouldn't say that's been a continuing problem,'' Morris said. "But last night I'd have to say it was.
"Last night we just got outplayed, and we won't make any excuses on what or who, it doesn't really matter. They have to go out and play hard, play fast, play smart and play consistent every single week.''