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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs fire Morris, entire coaching staff

2

January

Raheem Morris had a pretty good idea when he walked into a meeting with the Bucs owners Monday he would not be leaving as their head coach.

One year after leading the Bucs to their biggest single-season turnaround in victories in club history, Morris and the Bucs entire coaching staff was fired Monday.

Morris said he was informed at 11:59 a.m. at meeting with Bucs co-chairmen Bryan, Joel and Ed Glazer.

"It was the way we finished the season,'' Morris said. "The 10-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 went 17-31, losing 10 straight games to finish the 2011 season. The Bucs went from 3-13 his rookie year to 10-6 last season, narrowly missing the playoffs.

But after a 4-2 start, including wins over NFC South rivals Atlanta and New Orleans, the Bucs fell into a tailspin that Morris and his staff could not pull them out of.

Morris, who has one-year remaining on a two-year option the Bucs picked up after last season, said he was in agreement with the Bucs decision to build through the draft with the youngest team in the NFL the past two seasons.

"I bought into the plan,'' Morris said. "We just weren't able to pull it off.''  

The Bucs are expected to immediately begin a search for a head coach and their wish list is believed to begin with former Titans coach Jeff Fisher.

Until they parted ways last Jan. 27, Fisher was the NFL's longest tenured coach, spending nearly 17 seasons with the Houston Oilers/Titans organization. Fisher went 142-120 (.542), winning four division titles and appearing in the playoffs only six times over that span. He's 5-6 in the playoffs, with a Super Bowl trip in the 1999 season which the Titans lost to the Rams 23-16.

Tampa Bay will have plenty of competition for Fisher. The St. Louis Rams fired head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney Monday. The Chiefs, Jaguars and Dolphins all finished the season with interim head coaches. The Jags already have asked for permission to interview Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.

The Bucs announced the decision to dismiss Morris after three seasons with a four paragraph release. The team has scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference at One Buc Place. General manager Mark Dominik, who is signed through 2014, apparently has been retained.

"We want to thank Coach Morris for all his hard work and dedication has head coach of the Buccaneers,'' Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said in the news release.

"I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the passion coach Morris gave to our football team,'' Dominik said in a statement released by the team.

Bucs players were saddened but not surprised at the news of Morris' firing. In addition to his head coaching duties, Morris also served as the play-caller for a defense which allowed 491 points, the most in the NFL this season and the most in team history. The Bucs surrendered more than 30 points in each of their last five games and were outscored 203-88 in that span.

Bucs center Jeff Faine said he hopes Morris, who was 32 when he was hired as head coach in 2009, gets another shot at being an NFL head coach.    

"I think coach Morris is an improving head coach,'' Faine said. "I think hopefully he gets another opportunity to become a head coach. One positive thing is he's always improving. The hand he was dealt was a difficult one.  I think he did the most the could with it.''

Receiver Mike Williams tweeted "A part of my family is gone. But just know this, you will always be my family.''

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick in 2009 who tore biceps in both arms and finished each season on injured reserve, tweeted, "Prayers and love go out to Raheem Morris, the coach who believed enough in me to draft me. Wish him all the best.''

 

    

 

[Last modified: Monday, January 2, 2012 1:37pm]

    

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