- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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A few more thoughts on Tampa Bay’s decision to demote defensive coordinator Jim Bates.
I’ve always thought of coordinators as insulation or convenient scapegoats for head coaches. When things don’t go well for a head coach, he’s usually not going to be fired right away. Pressure from ownership and, sometimes even fans, is going to force him to sacrifice someone to protect himself and a coordinator almost always going to be the first place to turn.
I’ve seen it with John Fox and Dan Henning, Tony Dungy and Mike Shula or, more recently and more successfully, Sean Payton dumping Gary Gibbs for Gregg Williams. Moves like this usually come a few years into a regime when it becomes clear there’s a particular problem area.
But the Bucs have made two moves like this less than three months into Raheem Morris’ first season as a head coach. He shed offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski just before the start of the season. The word was Jagodzinski’s playbook was too simple and he wasn’t very organized.
Fine, we all gave him a pass on that one. But, now, Morris has turned around and taken the defense out of Bates’ hands and that raises major questions. Bates is the most experienced coach on this staff and he’s been a successful coordinator at several other places.
All this reflects poorly on Morris because Jagodzinski and Bates were his two hand-picked coordinators and he was supposed to lean heavily on them because Bates has been a head coach in the NFL and Jagodzinski had been a head coach at Boston College. If they had such major flaws, he never should have hired them. If the Bucs didn’t have the personnel to run their systems, Morris should have made sure they had the personnel or encouraged them to alter their systems.
With six weeks left in his first season, Morris has shed all of his insulation and winter is coming fast. I’ve always thought Tampa Bay’s intent was to build slowly with Morris and that he’d get at least a few years to work through the process. Now, I'm not so sure that's going to happen.
This situation has become a mess. There’s no one left to take the blame except for Morris.