Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer came out late Monday night and said coach Raheem Morris will get a second season. Good for the Glazer family for not hitting the panic button and doing something desperate.
I know the news might not sit well with Tampa Bay fans, who had visions of some fancy, high-priced coach coming in and instantly taking the Bucs to the Super Bowl. That was fantasy. The reality is the Bucs have a long way to go and Morris might be the right guy to get them there.
Yes, he made some very questionable moves in his first year and looked overwhelmed at times. But he did seem to learn from his mistakes and had the Bucs playing respectably for the last month. They finished 3-13, which if you’re really honest with yourself, isn’t all that different from what was realistically expected at the beginning of the season.
Remember, the Bucs, with the blessing or maybe even the orders of the Glazers, undertook a huge rebuilding effort. You could even call it a gutting. Things got very ugly, but Morris was able to show a little progress at the end.
This job is far from over. But, like it or not, the fact is, Morris is staying. With that in mind, here are five pieces of advice for Morris as he prepares for his second season.
1. Go out and hire a defensive coordinator. You did a fine job of taking over the defense after dumping Jim Bates. You went back to the Tampa Two and it worked. There are plenty of guys out there who are well versed in the Tampa Two, including some big names and there could be even more on the market in the coming days. Go out and get one of them. You’ve got more than enough on your plate as the head coach.
2. Find a stud defensive tackle. You’re sitting at No. 3 in the draft and all the talk is that Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh could be the first player taken. Hang loose a bit on this. Pre-draft workouts sometimes change things and Suh still could be available at No. 3. If you get close to the draft and it looks like he’s going at No. 1, trade up and get him. He’s exactly what you need and you’ve got 10 draft picks as ammunition to move up.
3. Continue building around Josh Freeman. The rookie quarterback did some really good things once he got to play and he did them with a horrible team around him. Go out and get him some real wide receivers to go with tight end Kellen Winslow. Let Antonio Bryant walk and, if you’re still sold on Michael Clayton, keep him around as a backup. You’ve got a good slot receiver in Sammie Stroughter. Now, go out and get two real NFL starters for Freeman to throw to.
4. Keep Greg Olson as your offensive coordinator. Yeah, I know some fans aren’t high on Olson, who was thrown into the role when you fired Jeff Jagodzinski on the eve of the season. But ignore the criticism. Olson’s been a coordinator in the NFL before and he’s got a year in of working with Freeman. Let the two of them stay together and build on the good things that came out of the second half of the season.
5. Settle on a kicker and punter. You went through more kickers and punters in your first year than some coaches go through in a career. Kickers and punters actually are important and continuity means a lot. Get the guys you want in the offseason and stick with them.