Shutdown Corner - NFL

"We're the best team in the NFC. Yeah, I said it. We're excited." -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris, after his team's last-second victory over the St. Louis Rams.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may very well be the best team in the NFC. I don't think they are, or that the question even matters given that choosing the best team in that mediocre conference is sort of like picking the tallest of Snow White's seven dwarfs. But I suppose it could be true.

Or not. The four teams the Bucs have defeated have a combined record of 8-18. They needed a last-second touchdown pass to beat a Rams team that had recently lost 44-6 to the lowly Detroit Lions. The team's rushing attack still relies on Cadillac Williams, his rickety knees and his 2.5 yards per-carry average. And for all his future potential (and there's a ton of it), Josh Freeman(notes) is still a 22-year-old quarterback.

Last year, Raheem Morris took over a team that was bottoming out. He's righted the ship already and turned the Bucs into a respectable team on the rise. His squad could contend for a playoff spot this year and might be a piece or two away from truly contending in 2011 and beyond. But they're hardly the best team in their division or in the state of Florida, let alone in the entire NFC.

Coaching is about more than X's and O's, there's also some expectation management involved. The Bucs play four of their next five games on the road and then return home for games against two division leaders (Atlanta and Washington). That 4-2 record could turn into 6-7 real quick. There wouldn't be anything wrong with that; Morris and the Bucs have already exceeded their win total from the entire 2009 season and, in doing so, have outperformed expectations. No need to be setting new ones when things are going so well.

I love that Morris says stuff like this, it's so much better than the normal coach speak we hear from guys like Bill Belichick and Andy Reid. For his sake though, keep those thoughts in the locker room.

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