Former Bucs head coach Morris will coach secondary for Redskins
Raheem Morris' quick rise from from defensive quality control assistant to NFL head coach with the Bucs may be one of the league's best examples of someone working their way from the bottom to the top.
But after being fired Jan. 2 with one year remaining on his contract, he never considered using a leftover timeout.
"Man, I'm not into that,'' Morris said. "I'm a football coach. This is what I do, it's who I am. I'm entirely too young to sit out a season. I don't need any rest, I don't have any worn out feeling. I have a feeling of hunger to go out and and try to win another championship. Coaches don't get to coach for long and any opportunity to to go out and compete is a great one.''
On Wednesday, the 35-year-old Morris agreed to coach defensive backs for the Washington Redskins.
Morris said Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan will not prevent him from seeking an opportunity as a defensive coordinator in the NFL next season. Morris took over the Bucs defensive play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Jim Bates the final six games of 2009 and maintained that role through last season.
"Mike has my best interest at heart, there's no question,'' Morris said of Shanahan. "And that was part of the selling point, it makes me want to be part of an organization with a man like that who can look you in the face and tell you he's got your best interest at heart and you can believe in those things he's telling you. In this profession, that's rare and I'm just grateful for the opportunity to learn from him.''
Last week, Morris met with the Redskins and was offered a position on Shanahan's staff to coach defensive backs. He also interviewed with the Minnesota Vikings about becoming their defensive coordinator. Morris said he has had no further contact with the Vikings and didn't want to hold the Redskins hostage while waiting for a defensive coordinator's position.
Morris will be reunited with Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, who held the same position with Tampa Bay when he convinced Morris to return to the Bucs from Kansas State after the 2006 season. Morris worked for one year as the Wildcats' defensive coordinator.
"They were the first ones to approach me,'' Morris said of the Redskins. "They talked about giving me time to give them an answer but I didn't want to screw up a good thing with a great organization. They were patient, they waited and gave me time to go through the process. But I've been a head coach and I know how tough it is when you feel like you're getting the run around and I wanted to be fair to everybody in Washington.''
Morris went 17-31 in three seasons as the Bucs head coach before being fired nine days ago. He directed the biggest victory turnaround in franchise history, going from 3-13 in 2009 to 10-6 in 2010, narrowly missing the playoffs. The Bucs started 4-2 last season with wins over Atlanta and New Orleans but hit a tailspin Morris could not pull them out off, losing the final 10 games of the season. In fact, the Bucs lost their final five games by an average of 23 points. Meanwhile, the offense committed 40 turnovers.
It was an unfortunate ending to Morris career in Tampa Bay, which began when he was hired as a defensive quality control assistant in 2002. The next season he was promoted to defensive assistant and helped coach the Bucs' secondary under Mike Tomlin from 2004-05.
The Bucs showed immediate improvement after Morris returned from Kansas State to coach defensive backs in 2007, going from 19th in pass defense to first in the NFL. In fact, coach Jon Gruden and Allen thought so much of his work that they announced on Christmas Eve in 2008 that he would succeed Monte Kiffin as the Bucs defensive coordinator.
But a few weeks later, Gruden and Allen were fired and the Bucs made Morris the youngest head coach in the NFL at age 32.
Morris has spent his entire NFL career in Tampa Bay and Wednesday's decision to join the Redskins ends that chapter.
"Man, it's been pretty easy for me to have nothing but great feelings about the Bucs and Tampa Bay,'' Morris said. "Everybody wants you to be angry and have negative things to say about the Glazers or Mark Dominik and the organization. But this is where I gew up at and they gave me my first opportunity to win a Super Bowl here and now I want to win one elsewhere.
"It didn't end the way I'd want it to end, but for what the Bucs have done for my family and for me personally, I can't complain.''
Although Morris' three seasons directing the Bucs produced mixed results, he said he hopes to get another opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL one day.
"It feeds the beast,'' Morris said. "It gives me confidence going 10-6 in 2010 and let's you know you can do it. Starting 4-2 last season under the circumstances we were facing let's you know you can do it. If the opportunity presents itself again, I'll embrace it. But I always believed you have to do the job you have the best you can and be focused on what you're doing at this point and good things will happen.''