Bucs ready to move on from lopsided loss
It didn't take Raheem Morris long to summarize what he learned from a second look at Tampa Bay's embarrassing loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
''The tape didn't look any better than it looked in person,'' the Buccaneers coach said Monday, reflecting on a 48-3 rout that stopped a three-game winning streak and dropped the Bucs (3-2) into second place in the NFC South. ''There's no need or excuses. ... I don't want to take any credit from what (the 49ers) did.''
With division-leading New Orleans headed to town this week, there's more concern about the status of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and running back LeGarette Blount than whether playing so poorly at San Francisco was an aberration or an indication that Tampa Bay is not nearly as good as it seemed before the debacle.
McCoy suffered a left ankle injury Sunday and was described by Morris as ''week to week.''
The coach's update on Blount's sore left knee was vague, too, with Morris declining to speculate about whether the team's leading rusher will be able to play against the Saints.
''I don't want to rule him out. But I'm not looking at him to do whatever,'' the coach said of Blount, who sat out most of the second half at San Francisco. ''It is what it is. It'll be next man up, or he'll be ready to go and he'll play and practice for us.''
The west coast trip began a challenging stretch of the schedule in which the Bucs traveled to San Francisco four days after hosting Indianapolis on Monday night. Now, they'll sandwich a pair of games against New Orleans around a ''home'' date against Chicago in London, plus the bye week.
Players had the Monday off, however they insisted Sunday that losing big to the 49ers will not undermine their confidence.
''I think these guys will have a short memory,'' center Jeff Faine said. ''These guys have a lot of energy, we are a loose team, we play with a lot of swagger, a lot of confidence and we have fun with it. It is supposed to be that way and it is not going to change.''
Blount was coming off his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season against the Colts. If he can't play against New Orleans, Earnest Graham, Kregg Lumpkin and Allen Bradford likely would share carries. McCoy's backup is Frank Okam, although Morris said rookie defensive end Da'Quan Bowers could wind up playing some inside, too.
McCoy, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, missed the last four weeks of his rookie season with a torn biceps muscle. Although he only has one sack this year, he's been a catalyst for an improved pass rush and part of the reason Morris was feeling better about the run defense before the 49ers rushed for 213 yards on Sunday.
With McCoy's status in doubt, the team made a couple of moves Monday, waiving tight end Collin Franklin and promoting defensive end George Johnson from the practice squad to the active roster. Devin Holland, a reserve safety who played mostly on special teams, was placed on injured reserve with a back injury.
''We'll have to see where he is this week. See how he can move around on that thing,'' Morris said of McCoy, who was injured in the first quarter against the 49ers when a teammate fell on the back on his leg.
''I've seen different things come about on Thursday and Friday,'' the coach added. ''But right now, I'm not real motivated to say he's definitely going to play this week. But I'm not ready to count him out, either.''
Morris stressed while the Bucs clearly could have played better on Sunday, there's no time to dwell on what went wrong against the 49ers, including two more interceptions than by Josh Freeman.
The third-year quarterback threw six picks all of last season. He's already matched that total through five games in 2011.
''He's got to make better decisions. ... But sometimes when you lack the big play (like) we've been lacking this season, you start to force some things. Sometimes he relies on his arm too much,'' Morris said. ''But he knows he has to protect the football.''
Freeman expects the team to rebound with a solid game against the Saints (4-1).
''We have to go back, look ourselves in the mirror and I wouldn't say re-evaluate, but we have to look at the film, get it out of our system and move on,'' Freeman said. ''We know we are a good football team. This happens every now and then. ... We are fine. Nobody's confidence is shaken.''