The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have confirmed the firing of third-year head coach Raheem Morris, a move that was first reported on Monday morning by several sources. After a 4-2 start to the 2011 season, the Buccaneers completely collapsed down the stretch -- losing their last 10 games, giving up more than 30 points in seven of their last eight games, and looking absolutely non-competitive as the season ended.
According to Pewter Report, the Bucs have fired not just Morris, but every assistant coach and coordinator in their employ.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Glazer family for the opportunity they gave me to be the Head Coach of the Buccaneers," Morris said in a statement. "I was honored and blessed to have spent the majority of my coaching career with the same (class) organization. I grew up with the Bucs and I was fortunate enough to be part of a Super Bowl victory there. I wish the Glazers, the management, players, staff and most importantly, the fans nothing but the greatest success in the future."
[Related: Rams fire Steve Spagnuolo and team GM]
Morris was a defensive quality control staffer for the team in 2002 (the year the Bucs won the Super Bowl), a defensive assistant in 2003, the assistant defensive backs coach in 2004 and 2005, and the defensive backs coach in 2007 and 2008 after spending 2006 as Kansas State's defensive coordinator. He was one of the rising names in the coaching tree, and he was hired as Jon Gruden's replacement in January of 2009.
Eventually, for whatever reason, things just fell apart.
The question of overall effort in the field — perhaps the worst insult one can possible give a team — was obvious in the team's season-ending debacle against the Atlanta Falcons; the Bucs were down 42-0 at one point, and several players looked to be giving less than their best.
It was a shocking reversal of fortune after Morris' second year in charge of the team in 2010 — the Bucs went 10-6 and featured several young potential stars. But all of their main players — quarterback Josh Freeman, running back LeGarrette Blount, and receiver Mike Williams — regressed to a disturbing degree. And when Morris took over the defense only to see that side of the ball fall down more than ever, his fate was surely sealed.
"Last year, you could say we overachieved," Morris said after the 45-24 Falcons loss. "This year, you could say we underachieved. But I don't worry about what's going to happen. You've got to keep trucking. Don't worry about it. Don't blink."
According to veteran center Jeff Faine, the team's construction process — Tampa Bay featured the NFL's youngest team for the second straight year — had a hand in the unraveling.
"I think the lack of veteran leadership across the board could've hurt us," Faine said. "I admire the aggressiveness of the front office and wanting to build the right way. With that, I think there would've been some value in sprinkling in some veteran leadership and keeping around some guys who maybe don't fit in that philosophy of building organically."
Morris ended his Bucs career with a 17-31 record.
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