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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Taking over the defense may have saved Morris' job



Raheem Morris' decision to take over the play-calling duties on defense may have saved his job.

The first-year coach led the Bucs to two of their three victories in the final month of the season after doubling as defensive coordinator.

With Morris calling the shots, the Bucs defense went from allowing 29.2 points per game to just over 17 points per game during the final six weeks.

The Bucs have released defensive coordinator Jim Bates from his contract and Morris will run the defense again next season.

"I feel like Raheem did a very, very good job of keeping this football team upbeat. I think that was very important. And I feel like Raheem did a fantastic job calling the defense,'' general manager Mark Dominik said when asked why Morris was retained for 2010 after a 3-13 record.

"I felt like he became even more alive in the practices. I think he became more alive and felt more of a part of what's going on, on both sides of the ball, but really on defense.

"I felt good about the direction the defense was heading. I thought Raheem was creative. I think we Buccaneers fans, we all saw different, creative ways to get to the quarterback with the double-A (gap) blitz, or whether it was a corner or a safety. It was different looks we hadn't seen and I'm excited about that. Because again, I think Raheem has been able to mentally put it together now, that hybrid defense. It's up to us now to continue to work with the guys we have and add to that talent pool to become the defense that Tampa knows and loves. And that's important to us.''

Bucs vice president Joel Glazer issued a statement one day after the regular season ended with a loss to the Atlanta Falcons indicating Morris would return in 2010. Although Morris was already under contract, Dominik said the Bucs' owners wanted to end speculation about the Bucs' coaching job.

"I think there were a lot of false reports out there that they felt were unfair,'' Dominik said. "So I think that's why the statement came out because it was to make sure people understood what direction we were headed, that were staying with the same plan we started 12 months ago.''


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:54pm]


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