The Buccaneers’ Most Recent
Since this is the shortest day of the year, I am going to reflect on the short time that Raheem Morris and the coaching staff have left with the Buccaneers organization. I have always been a Morris supporter from the very start as I felt he was the type of change that the Bucs needed at the time. I was also very excited when the team was exceeding expectations last year, but all of that has changed in the last couple of months. The staff has completely lost the team and the players do not seem to have respect for the coaches anymore. Josh Hill wrote an excellent piece on this site addressing the issue last week, but I feel it needs to be revisited after another abysmal start in the Dallas game.
Morris tried some last ditch efforts (like throwing Brian Price out of the game), but this was too little, too late. Unfortunately once a football team abandons their coach, there is no getting them back. The players know that he is holding onto the job by just his fingernails and they continue to roll over in the games and look unconcerned. Players who like their coach and want him to stay will play more inspired. The Raiders did this when it was known that Tom Cable was rumored likely be fired a couple of years ago.
The only thing I don’t want to happen is have Morris fired with games to play. Do it at the end of the season, and start with a clean slate. The next coach will not likely come from within, so there is no need for a trial interim coach. It is also just not fair for anyone, and often will make the whole situation worse.
Injury Updates and Commentary
Aqib Talib was placed on injured reserve when his hamstring essentially kept him out of his second straight game. I have been an Talib basher this year and now it has surfaced that Mark Dominik was talked out of cutting him earlier this year by Morris. His hamstring will heal and not cause him any long term problems as tears in the middle of a muscle can heal without any surgery and just take time, but his character issues will likely not change without a change of scenery. He really just didn’t seem to have his head in the game this year and he has likely played his last game in a Bucs uniform.
The NFL just issued a new policy in which an independent athletic trainer will be present on the sidelines of each game to assess for concussions. This is a great idea as it takes the decision on whether to have a player return to the game out of the hands of someone on the team’s payroll. There is an obvious conflict of interest with the players and the teams regarding return to play after mild to moderate concussions. If the player is put back in right away, he can benefit the team and they do not have to replace him. If he sustains another hit (second hit syndrome) then he can have lasting effects which will alter the rest of his life. Thus, the teams medical staff can be put in a difficult position regarding mild to moderate concussions.
With an independent examiner, he or she can make the determination and not be fearful for his job in the future and repercussions from the upper management or coaching staff. I admire that the NFL is taking steps to reduce head injuries by taking this measure. Some of the fines and penalties for hits have become ridiculous, but this one makes sense.
On a side note, I have not heard anything about a formal policy or warning to the players, but it seems to me that there are less instances of players’ helmets coming off during the game, and this is also a good thing as properly fitted helmets should rarely come off.
At The End of the Day
Due to me being busy this time of year with many people having surgery at the end of the year and with my dad recently having heart surgery, I will have to elect next week my bye week. For those select few of you who make it to the end of the column and have been dedicated readers of the column, I hope I don’t leave you too disappointed and I promise that I will get one more Midweek Gameplan in this year and will also have two more columns to come. The plan will be to have a full disclosure Endseason Gameplan column where I address just how awful my bold preseason predictions were, and a second annual off season injury rundown and expectations for recovery.
Until two weeks from now, “can’t see the line, can you Russ?’