Bucs coach Raheem Morris, with his team mired in a nine-game losing streak, made it clear Monday he doesn't believe he deserves to be fired.
“I think I answered this question a couple weeks ago, I will never fire myself,'' Morris said. "You don’t go from being a Coach of the Year candidate to being the worst coach in the league to get fired within a year. It’s about us. It’s a little bit of everything.
“I believe in my guys. I believe in the system. I believe in the program. I believe in what we do and everybody in this building. It’s a buying in factor. Either you buy in or you don’t and we want to build this thing young and we want to develop a team that goes out and wins and wins consistently.''
Morris said that general manager Mark Dominik, himself and the Glazer family which owns the Bucs all bought in to the plan of building with the youngest team in the NFL the past two seasons. He referenced the decision not to re-sign free agent middle linebacker Barrett Ruud in order to start rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster, a third-round pick from Washington.
"We made a collective agreement to go young when we took over this program,'' Morris said. "That's something we wanted to do. In order to upgrade in certain positions, sometimes you got to get worse before you get better. Going out and getting a young middle linebacker was something we decided to do and we did it. Whether or not at the beginning we both were on the same page or all four of us were on the same page, including the Glazers, it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, we decided to do it and we went out and did it.''
The Bucs (4-11) are last in the league in scoring defense, allowing 29.9 points per game under Morris, who also serves as defensive coordinator. But a bigger factor in their losing spiral have been turnovers. The Bucs have had 28 giveaways during their nine-game losing streak.
Morris says in many cases it's the result of players going 'outside the box,' to make plays. He cited an example of tight end Kellen Winslow trying to leap over defenders and losing a fumble in the Bucs' 48-16 loss at Carolina Saturday.
What bothers Morris is that fact that the Bucs have not even been competitive in many games this season. Tampa Bay has has allowed 31 or more points in six of its past seven games and have been outscored by an average of 18.3 points per game.
"No question. Bingo. You got me. I can't even talk my way around this one,'' Morris said. "That is the most frustrating thing for me at this point, but it happens because people go outside the box and try to make plays that are just not there in order to get their football team or basketball team or hockey team to win. You've got to go play within the system and make the plays that technique and opportunity allow you to make. Once you do those things, it's just like the year before.
"But until you realize that, until you settle down and stop pushing the panic button, so to speak, and jumping outside of your zone, or jumping outside of your gap, or trying to do something bigger than it really is -- leap a man in open grass -- and all those things are part of it. Kellen didn't jump over that guy trying to fumble. He tried to make a play outside of his realm, outside of the box in order to get his football team to win. I'm not going to bash him for that. But that's a teach-able moment even for a guy like Kellen Winslow.''
Morris said in Winslow's case, he was trying to do too much to win the game for the head coach.
"There's no question. I mean there's no doubt,'' Morris said. "Kellen Winslow is a prime example of, "I'm going to win this game despite anything around me for Raheem.' There's no doubt in my mind that he was thinking that when he jumped over that guy. That was not a selfish act...he was trying to score.'
"They've been like that. I know, "Have you lost them?' All that garbage talk, there's no doubt in my mind none of that stuff is even close because of the 61 men in that room during our team meeting when I actually can call guys out and tell them what to do and what not to do...I understand and they've got to understand that, too.''