|The coaching hot seat begins to claim victims: Tampa Bay parts ways with Raheem Morris|
By Ryan Wilson
Raheem Morris' tenure in Tampa Bay lasted less than three years. He was introduced on January 18, 2009 as Jon Gruden's replacement and now, after a 4-12 record in 2011 (including a 45-24 Week 17 drubbing at the hands of the Falcons), he becomes another up-and-coming young head coach who showed promise only to flame out shortly thereafter.
On Monday, the Buccaneers announced that Morris, along with his entire coaching staff, had been fired.
“We want to thank Coach Morris for all his hard work and dedication as head coach of the Buccaneers," Bucs co-chair Joel Glazer said in a statement released by the team.
In three seasons, Tampa Bay was 17-31, sandwiching three and four-win seasons around a 10-6 effort in 2010, and never qualifying for the playoffs. Expectations were high heading into the season, and only higher after the Bucs started 4-2.
"I have a lot of respect for the passion Coach Morris gave to our team, but this change is one we felt was necessary," General Manager Mark Dominik said.
And then the wheels came off. Tampa Bay lost 10 in a row, most in convincing fashion. They allowed at least 24 points in each game over the final two and a half months of the season, seven times allowed more than 30 and gave up more than 40 on three occasions.
Thus, Morris' firing wasn't a surprise, even to him.
"It was the way we finished the season,'' Morris said, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. "The game-losing streak. You don't have that and survive in this league and we all know that. It is what it is, you have to be ready to deal.
"They blew it up. I have nothing bad to say about the Glazers, Mark (Dominik). The Glazers gave me a great opportunity and we almost pulled it off.''
Morris has been on the proverbial hot seat since Thanksgiving or so. Last week, he made it clear that he wanted to finish what he started.
“I believe in my guys. I believe in the system. I believe in the program. I believe in what we do and everybody in this building, so it’s a buying-in factor," Morris said. "Either you buy in or you don’t. And we want to building this thing young and we want to develop a team that goes out and wins — and wins consistently.”
When Morris was hired, team co-chairman Joel Glazer called him "a leader, [who] commands the respect of the team ... and his peers … Raheem can relate to today's NFL player … The game has changed a lot. It's always changing. ... If you don't adapt to those changes, you can't compete."
Gruden, who led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title following the 2002 season, had been unimpressive in his last three seasons. He was 4-12 in 2006, and 9-7 in 2007 and 2008. Morris was supposed to be the younger, newer version of Gruden. Turns out, he wasn't. And now the Glazers begin the process again.
Morris shouldn't be out of work long. He was a 32-year-old defensive coordinator before he got the Bucs job and he'll likely return to that role. And if things go well, there's every reason to believe he'll get another shot at a head-coaching gig in the future.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.