I'm getting Deja Vu, but that may not be a bad thing.
At the end of 2009, Ronde Barber said he'd retire if Raheem wasn't the head coach in 2010. All the players wanted to play for him. Like Rex Ryan year in and year out, he had a dream and a slogan (race to 10, in case you forgot), and every player was ready to compete for him. There may have been slow starts, but at one point early in the season Tampa was the least penalized team in the league, or close to it, and things were looking up.
At the end of the 2010 campaign, things looked very bright indeed. Something has changed though. I think everyone drank a little too much of the Kool-Aid. Egos were over-inflated and with the long summer lockout and a bizarre lack of interest in a free-for-all free agency period, the players got complacent. Unlike at the end of 2009, jobs weren't at stake. Offensive tackles were re-signed for big money. Rookies that were long shots in the 2010 draft were undisputed starters. Suddenly, selfish reasons for player's self-sacrificing performances are no longer needed. Remember Blount's helicopter touchdown that still sends chills down your spine? Or Mike William's tip-catch against the Browns, along with myriad other highlight reel eye candy? Each of these spectacular plays that ended in a 10-6 record was the result of a combined effort. The players were hungry and they were deserving of Morris's verbage--even if I don't agree with creating words like 'youngry' and 'physicaled'.
After yesterday's beat down, 2010 is a distant memory. But it's deja vu all over again because the players are once again standing up for Raheem. Michael Bennett and Aqib Talib are, if not shouldering the blame themselves, at least admitting that Morris wasn't on the field taking snaps and it wasn't all his fault. Honestly, I'm impressed. That's the kind of character I expected out of 2010's team.
Maybe the key to motivation for this team is knowing that their coach is on the hot seat. Maybe, each player needs to be thinking about their own jobs. Maybe players like Ronde Barber need to remind everyone of that the good ole days when the coach didn't just have bark, but bite, could be a reality again.
The season isn't over but a few careers will be if something doesn't change soon. Maybe, some people in One Buc Place should remind themselves that the captain isn't necessarily the only that goes down with the ship. And even if he is the only one that goes down with the ship, it doesn't mean they won't end up with a tyrant at the helm when a new season begins.
Maybe that's just the kind of motivation these players need.