There was speculation throughout the season that the Buccaneers would fire head coach Raheem Morris after the 2009 campaign, but co-chairman Joel Glazer announced Morris would remain the head coach one day after the regular season ended. It no doubt strengthened Morris' case to return when Tampa Bay won two of its last three games and the defense improved after he took over the defensive coordinator duties prior to Week 12. Hired at age 32, with no experience at the pro level beyond coaching the secondary, Morris inherited the Bucs at a rebuilding stage.
GM Mark Dominik told PFW he was impressed with Morris' evolution as a head coach, in an exclusive interview during Senior Bowl practices.
"From going from a position coach right to a head coach, there's a lot of transition, and I think Raheem handled it extremely well," Dominik said. "I was really impressed with how Raheem continued to grow in that role, especially after he took on the role of defensive coordinator, and I was really excited about that. I felt like he really blossomed into an even better coach with even more responsibility, which says a lot about Raheem and, I think, what his future can be."
Some observers felt Morris was in over his head when the season began. He fired both of his coordinators months after they were hired, which created a perception of dysfunction within the franchise, and the team was 1-12 before its solid finish.
"I think (Morris) is a guy that can handle a lot of responsibility," Dominik said. "I think that's why at such a young age he's been given such an opportunity. I think everybody's identified that with him. I think people did, even outside of our organization, when he got to interview with another club (the Broncos) for their head-coaching job, so it wasn't something that we just saw internally. It was something people saw externally, as well."
Morris kept his job, but he'll be back on the hot seat when next season begins. Dominik said the team should benefit from the sustained stability at both coordinator positions in 2010.
"I do think with Greg Olson being the offensive coordinator, giving him an entire offseason is important, and I think it's given Raheem Morris the opportunity to implement a very similar Tampa-2 style of defense with some wrinkles that we're excited about having," he said.
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