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Later is better in choosing a starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA — The clock was not ticking. The pressure was not mounting. The season was not on the line.

More than anything else, that is why Raheem Morris did not make The Big Decision on Monday.

Because he didn't have to make it, silly.

For now, Morris is the coach without answers. There is less than three weeks to go before opening day, and two days have passed since the day Morris insisted he would announce his starting quarterback to the world. And still, the Bucs remain decisionless and starting quarterbackless.


Because there is still time on the clock.

For Morris, and for the Bucs, it is as simple as that.

I know, I know. As a rule, we like our coaches to be assured and assertive and stuffed with conviction. We like them to look at flawed resumes and find potential stars. We want them to analyze and process as quickly as a quarterback facing a heavy rush. Also we want our answers now.

And so it is that Morris has been battered around some over the past couple of days. This is his first major call as a head coach, and as such, his first taste of criticism. Already, there are those who accuse him of indecision.

Here's the thing, though.

Why on earth would Morris make a decision before it is time to make it?

Byron Leftwich? Tough guy. Experienced guy. Big arm. Still, wouldn't you want him to show a little bit more in his preseason games than he has shown?

Luke McCown? Mobile guy. Resilient guy. Still, wouldn't you want a little more proof that he's a starter?

Given that choice, wouldn't any coach want all the evidence he can get? Especially when he's dealing with two quarterbacks who, frankly, are not Joe Montana and Steve Young.

Tell me this: Except for satisfying the curiosity of the team and the fans, what would the Bucs gain by anointing either player three days early? Sure, the offensive linemen would know where to send the dinner check more quickly, but except for that, it's not a big deal.

Ah, but suppose Morris had named, say, Leftwich as his starter Sunday, and suppose Leftwich was lousy against the Dolphins while Luke McCown was terrific? Would Morris get a mulligan?

This is better. With two quarterbacks who still have proving to do, it's the way the decision should have been planned all along.

That said, any time the answer isn't apparent, the questions are going to come. There were those convinced this said things about the quarterbacks, about the coach, about the front office.

Was Morris indecisive? No, he wasn't. Morris was prepared to name his starter — the guess here is it was Leftwich — until meeting with general manager Mark Dominik, offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, quarterback coach Greg Olson and associate head coach Rich Bisaccia. Afterward, Morris decided he was better off waiting.

Remember this, too: Decisions are not based only on the preseason games. They're also based on practices and drills through minicamps and training camps.

If Morris made a mistake, it was in announcing that he would name his starter before he had to in the first place. Look, you don't punt on third down, and you don't pay your mortgage two weeks in advance, and if you're on the jury, you don't shout "guilty" halfway through a trial.

In other words, some conclusions are supposed to be arrived at slowly. The one about the Bucs quarterback, for instance.

Does it say something about the quarterbacks? Yes. It says that neither has been good enough to close out the argument. Leftwich was better in Game 1, and McCown was much better in Game 2. If they were boxers, wouldn't you expect another fight?

Does it mean that rookie Josh Freeman is a candidate to start after all? No, it doesn't. The Bucs continue to treat Freeman as a redshirt freshman. He'll probably play this year, but it won't be before Halloween (and maybe not Thanksgiving).

Is someone besides Morris deciding the starting quarterback? No. Whoever starts at quarterback — or anywhere else — is the head coach's decision. It has to be. This debate was about the timing of naming a starter, not about which starter should be named.

And so Tampa Bay waits for answers. Morris waits, too.

In the meantime, remember this: No one likes indecision, but it beats making a wrong decision.

Later is better in choosing a starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 08/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:34am]
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