Whether you buy it or not, coach Raheem Morris wasn't that surprised or overly upset at the Bucs futility in their 31-14 loss to New England last week.
"The thing about that, we've got our way of doing things and they had their way of doing things and I don't want to knock anything anybody else does," Morris said. "I guess I'm not trying to knock someone that way. I just know they prepared a little differently just based on film evaluation and talking to people and things of that nature.
"For us, it's more about our guys picking things up in the heat of the moment and letting that player come out in order to find out who's going to make our football team. If I give them all the answers to the test, you can get a bad player and he can show up and play decent enough to make your football team. If I don't give all these guys answers to the test and they have an equal ground and a chance to compete and find out who knows what we do and how we want to do it the best. That puts us in a position to go out and play football to the best of our ability.
"It also helps my quarterback (Josh Freeman), because now he's got to know, 'Hey, look, these are my hots at the moment. When stuff comes up during the season that we didn't necessarily cover, I can handle this. I got to get the ball out of my hand here. That guy will walk right there, he's free hitter, this ball has to come out right now.' So Josh has got to learn his lesson, too the hard way."
|Patriots linebacker Niko Koutouvides (46) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson (Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)|
"The New England Patriots are probably the originators of that, doing it that fast and that high tempo," Morris said. "They're awesome at it as well. When you play those types of teams, not necessary late, but you get them right now. And you've got to react and play, right now, in your stance, ready to go. It was more of a compliment from our guys to Tom and their execution and their tempo."
The Bucs were on the other side of the equation following their 25-0 win at Kansas City in the preseason opener. The Chiefs rested many of their starters and treated the game like a scrimmage.
There's reason to think the Bucs will get better. Tight ends Kellen Winslow and Luke Stocker, who suffered a hip injury on the first day of training camp, have not played. Both are expected to play against Miami. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Myron Lewis each are recovering from hamstring strains, leaving the secondary short-handed.
Defensively, the Bucs have been without Brian Price (hamstring) and Roy Miller (knee) at defensive tackle and rookie linebacker Mason Foster still is getting his feet wet.
There's no question Freeman has to be better. And the Bucs' offensive line, a veteran group with the return of free agents Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood, has not played to its potential. Left tackle Donald Penn had his worst game in some time against the Pats and defensive end Andre Carter.
But sometimes, young teams need to learn the hard way. The Patriots showed you have to be ready to play every time you hit the field - for preseason or otherwise.
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