A day after abruptly firing Super Bowl winner Jon Gruden, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers introduced Raheem Morris as their new coach.
Morris takes over a team that won three division titles under his predecessor but hasn’t won a playoff game since capturing the franchise’s only NFL title in January 2003. The Gruden era ended with four consecutive losses that denied the Bucs a postseason spot following a 9-3 start.New B
“He’s a leader, commands the respect of the team … and his peers,” team co-chairman Joel Glazer said.
“Raheem can relate to today’s NFL player,” Glazer added. “The game has changed a lot. It’s always changing. … If you don’t adapt to those changes, you can’t compete.”
The 32-year-old Morris has no previous head coaching experience. The Bucs promoted him to defensive coordinator on Christmas Day, and he recently interviewed for the Denver Broncos coaching vacancy.
Even he’s stunned by his rapid ascension, considering he was the defensive back coach less than a month ago when it still looked as if the Bucs would get into the playoffs, thus likely saving Gruden’s job.
“It’s really hard to even imagine right now. It’s all happened so fast,” Morris said. “I’m so fired up. I’m happy to initiate our plan. I can’t wait to get going.”
Mark Dominik, who has been with the team since 1995, takes over as general manager, replacing Bruce Allen, who also was fired Friday.
“Both of these men have Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their DNA. … They’re youthful and energetic, and both rode a clear and steady path from the bottom to the top,” Glazer said during a news conference at the team’s headquarters.
“Mark understands everything it takes to be a champion. No one knows this organization’s roots and history better.”
Morris, a former Hofstra player and assistant coach, has been with the Bucs for six seasons over two stints.
He initially joined Gruden’s staff as defensive quality control coach for the 2002 Super Bowl run and was assistant defensive backs coach for two seasons before spending 2006 as defensive coordinator at Kansas State.
He and former Bucs assistant Mike Tomlin, now the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, helped develop one of the top secondaries in the NFL. Both accepted other jobs after Tampa Bay led the league in total defense in 2005, and Gruden lured Morris back when the Bucs dropped to 19th against the pass the following season.
The 37-year-old Dominik joined the Bucs in 1995 and served in a number of personnel and scouting positions under former general manager Rich McKay before becoming director of pro personnel eight years ago.
Credit: Associated Press
Tags: Tampa Bay Buccaneers