Hey Coach Morris, I Take Your Dare on Michael Clayton

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIOctober 12, 2009

It was supposed to be Jon Gruden's fault. After mentally abusing poor Michael Clayton, he lost his confidence and, seemingly, his ability to hold on to a football.

Then it was supposed to be Raheem Morris and Greg Olsen's fault. Clayton wasn't getting enough opportunities to catch the ball, thus when the ball was thrown to him, he dropped it.

Now, it's the fans fault.

After being asked by the St. Petersburg Times whether he expects criticism from the fans, Clayton said, ""I ain't worried about that. People who say stuff, they're not out there on the field. Nobody who writes (stuff) or says (stuff) can say anything about a player because they're not on the field. It's real serious out there.

"That's why I don't pay any attention to that stuff because the mentality is that you make up for it and you come back and catch the next one. I mean, regardless of what they say, the check is in the bank. That's not changing."

The check is in the bank. Perhaps it was said in frustration after yet another disappointing loss and a horrible performance by a guy general manager Mark Dominik gave $10.5 million guaranteed to.

Perhaps it was a telling sign of the mentality of one Michael Clayton, who's been stealing money from the organization for five years.

Coach Raheem Morris declared Clayton back after the embattled wide receiver hauled in five catches for 93 yards in week one against Dallas.

"I dare anyone to question our re-signing of Michael Clayton," the coached exclaimed.

Since that proclamation to the heavens, Clayton has caught five catches in four games for 52 yards and leads the NFL in dropped passes.

On the first play of the game, Clayton gave up on the route and then scrambled to try to get into position when young Josh Johnson went deep to him. It would have been a huge play, possibly a touchdown on the first play of the game.

It feel incomplete, like so many passes intended for Clayton. The check is in the bank, though.

Donovan McNabb and Jerry Maclin showed the Bucs how it's done on their second play of the game and the rout was on.

Clayton is just the latest example in a long line of questionable talent evaluation by Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris. While the Bucs weren't the biggest spenders in the NFL, it's who they spent money on that has made things worse.

When the announcement of Michael Clayton's five year $26 million contract with $10 million guaranteed hit the airwaves—even the Raiders laughed.

Add another $9 million to Antonio Bryant, the Bucs paid $19 million to two receivers who collectively dropped six passes against the Eagles on Sunday.

How's that job security feeling there, Mr. Dominik? You, Coach Morris?

Just five games into the season, headlines are blaring "Right man for the job?" in regards to the 32 year old head coach.

You have to wonder with the erratic decision making, poor talent evaluation, and apparent inability for his staff to make halftime adjustments (Tampa Bay has been outscored 33-0 in third quarters this season) Morris is feeling the heat.

Having a player who lobbied for more opportunities, then say "The Check's in the bank," after catching three balls in 12 opportunities certainly doesn't help.

It's nothing new for Clayton, who's spent five years now living off his monster rookie season.

For Coach Morris, it may be time to admit the mistake on Clayton and bench him for Sammie Stroughter or Maurice Stovall. While they don't have the blocking prowess of Clayton down the field, they do accomplish their primary responsibility—catch the football.

Maybe it's our turn to admit that Coach Jon Gruden was right on Clayton.


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