Morris: "It's my job to fix it''
Embattled first-year coach Raheem Morris said he Tuesday he believes he's the best man to fix the Bucs' defense over the next six weeks.
Morris relieved Jim Bates as defensive coordinator Monday night and will take over his play-calling duties after the team's 1-9 start and last-place ranking against the run.
Morris plans to re-install the Bucs Tampa Two scheme of defense that was the NFL gold standard for more than a decade under Monte Kiffin.
Citing the fact that he originally was hired as defensive coordinator to replace Kiffin last Christmas Eve, Morris said he's anxious to implement some of his ideas.
"It's funny. You were hired to be defensive coordinator two weeks before you were hired to be the head coach and you have some ideas and you've got your plans out there,'' Morris said Tuesday. "Why throw (linebackers coach) Joe Barry out there and let him try to fix it the next six weeks when you think you can? I feel like it's my responsibility, I feel like I have to do it, I feel like it's what I'm supposed to do as a head coach and a man on this football team.
"It's what I owe this organization, it's what I owe this town, what I owe this ownership, what I owe Mark Dominik, everybody that's involved with me. It's my job to fix it and that's what I've got to go out there and do.''
Bates, 63, met with Morris Tuesday morning and is expected to remain with the team as a defensive consultant and help from the coaches' box on game day. But Morris said those details are still being worked out.
On Tuesday, while the Bucs were hitting the practice field, Bates was one block away eating lunch at Boston Market.
"We're going to make sure first of all that it's best for both of us,'' Morris said. "We were able to talk this morning, we were able to sit down and he's definitely helping me right now. Like I said about Jim Bates, you're talking about one of the most well-respected guys in this league and one of the most well-respected minds in this league and my friend. We've done a great job of sitting down and trying to hash it out. It's still in pending mode. He's helping me, I'm helping him and we're getting through it.
"It's still a wait-and-see deal, but we're working together.''
Morris said the decision to remove Bates as defensive coordinator was based on the team's poor performance. The Bucs are allowing an NFL worst 168.9 yards per game.
"It's my call, it's my job to make sure we progress and that's what I've got to go out there and try to get it done every day,'' Morris said. "It's within the results. We're judged every day in this business. We have to be judged every day in this business, we all will be. We all are. It's the results. We've got to go out and progress and we've got to try to get better in these next six weeks and that's my focus.''
Bates is the second coordinator to be asked to hand in his whistle since the start of the season. Morris fired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski 10 days before the start of the regular season and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Greg Olson.
Morris said he understands why people might question his decision-making but says each situation is different.
"But it's my job to do what I think is best for this organization while I'm running it,'' Morris said. "If that's my decision, then I have to go out there and do it. Being proactive in your decisions, in your job I believe is the best thing you can do. You can sit around and you can complain, you can sit in the corner and you can talk about it, but when you actually go out and do something about it, then it's being proactive in my opinion.
"I learned a lot of football from Jim Bates, there's no doubt about it. And I learned a lot of football from Monte Kiffin. I thought we could be that super, mega-morph that we could get together and get this thing going and really get it rolling. And we probably still can. And I'm just going to go do it because it's my responsibility to do it if I can. I'm going to give you my best input...Now, it's my job to do it and I'm going to go do it.''