Coach Raheem Morris met with the Tampa Bay media Monday, which is a pretty strong sign he at least will coach the final game of the season (Sunday at Atlanta). But Morris’ future is still open to plenty of speculation.
Morris made it sound like he plans on being back next season.
“I will never fire myself,’’ Morris said. “We go out and you don’t go from being a Coach of the Year candidate to being the worst coach in the league to getting fired within a year. It’s about us. It’s a little bit of everything. I believe in my guys. I believe in the system, I believe in the program, in what we do and in everybody in this building, so it’s a buying in factor. And either you’re buying in or you [aren’t]. We wanted to build this thing young and develop a team that goes out and wins and wins consistently."
Morris is accurate about the team being young. The Bucs are the NFL’s youngest team for the second straight year. But the part about being a candidate for Coach of the Year one season and not getting fired the next season, doesn’t exactly hold up to recent league history. The Kansas City Chiefs fired third-year coach Todd Haley after they started 5-8 this season. Haley and the Chiefs went 10-6 last season and made the playoffs.
The Bucs went 10-6 last season and didn’t make the playoffs. They started 4-2 this season, but have lost nine consecutive games. What’s more troubling is the Bucs seem to have regressed as the season has gone on. They recently have been blown out by teams with records below .500 (Carolina twice and Jacksonville).
Morris said what’s happening this season is part of the growing pains of a youth movement.
"We made a collective agreement to go young when we took over this program,’’ Morris said. “That’s something we wanted to do. In order to upgrade at certain positions, sometimes you have to get worse before you get better. And going out and getting a young middle linebacker [Mason Foster] was something that we decided to do and we did it. Whether or not at the beginning we were both on the same page or all three of us including the Glazers were on the same page doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, we decided to do it and we went out and did it.’’
Morris is talking like he still plans to be around, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be back. The ultimate decision will be up to ownership. One way or the other, I would expect some sort of decision shortly after the Bucs finish their season.