Bucs coach Morris preferred tandem coaching approach on the defensive line
Raheem Morris had no hesitation about hiring co-defensive line coaches because he’s seen the tandem approach work well for the Bucs before.
Morris was once an assistant to then Tampa Bay defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin and later had Jimmy Lake help him with the secondary.
Tampa Bay hired former Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackle Keith Millard and Arizona State’s Grady Stretz to coach the Bucs’ defensive line Tuesday. Millard will focus on the pass rush while Stretz will be in charge of run defense. They will replace Todd Wash, who took the defensive line coaching position with Seattle.
“If you walked into a defensive backs room when if was me and Tomlin, you wouldn’t know who the assistant was based on who might be running the meeting,’’ Morris said Thursday. “I did the same thing with Jimmy Lake. It’s worked so well in the past I thought I’d get two defensive line coaches and give them pet projects.’’
The other reason for the renewed emphasis is that the Bucs have a heavy investment in their defensive line with Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, and defensive tackle Brian Price, a second rounder from UCLA who went on injured reserve after six games last season. Defensive tackle Roy Miller was a third round pick from Texas and defensive end Kyle Moore was a fourth-rounder from USC in 2009.
“We’ve got so much invested in that defensive line room in terms of money and draft picks, we needed to make that investment in coaches for those guys,’’ Morris said. “I was looking for young, energetic coaches to crank that room up.’’
Former Bucs All Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who had 10 sacks at age 32 playing under Millard in Oakland, strongly endorsed the hiring. He talked to both Morris and general manager Mark Dominik about his experience with Millard.
In Denver, Millard had three players produce at least 8.5 sacks on the defensive line in 2004 -- Bertrand Berry, Trevor Pryce and Reggie Hayward. With the Raiders in 2007, Millard helped Derrick Burgess and Chris Clemons each record 10 sacks.
“When he interviewed (Millard), he was phenomenal with his energy and his passion,’’ Morris said. “I think he can be the super energetic guy that we needed in that room.’’
Stretz worked with Bucs receivers coach Eric Yarber while at Arizona State.
"We did it the right way and waited until after the recruiting process,'' Morris said of Stretz. "We got him on the board, he had a bunch of energy and was able to get him to talk specifically about the running game, the influences he has had, his willingness to work with Keith Millard. He did a great job with the interview.''