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New Tampa Bay Buccaneers brass isn't afraid to make changes

You can say a lot of things about the Bucs' new leadership tandem of general manager Mark Dominik and coach Raheem Morris.

You can argue they're too young or maybe too inexperienced. Some might even prefer their predecessors. With a little determination, you can make a case for all of those arguments.

But one thing you can't justify is calling this pair timid.

Dominik went from pro personnel director to calling many of the shots for a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Meanwhile, Morris' head is still spinning after his meteoric and unexpected rise from defensive backs coach to head coach in a span of a month.

And peering over their shoulders are legions of fans looking for a reason to be hopeful despite a backdrop of recent disappointments.

Now that's pressure.

But Dominik and Morris have responded gracefully, making one difficult decision after another with confidence and conviction.

You aren't required to agree with their choices. But you have to respect the fact they had the guts to make them.

Since taking over for Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen, Morris and Dominik:

• Fired six assistant coaches, including key Gruden assistant Bill Muir.

• In one fell swoop cut LB Derrick Brooks, RB Warrick Dunn, WR Joey Galloway, LB Cato June and WR Ike Hilliard in an effort to get younger and reshape the roster.

• Traded a second- and fifth-round pick to the Browns for TE Kellen Winslow.

• Decided to, in large part, move away from the team's traditional Tampa 2 defense.

And you thought President Obama had an ambitious agenda for his first 100 days.

Anyone who wondered how Morris would be received by a locker room of players not much younger than he can rest assured he has their undivided attention. He and Dominik didn't ease their way into these jobs. They came in swinging sledgehammers.

Of course, there is no guarantee any of the moves will have their intended result. Each could prove regrettable.

But we don't know that yet considering free agency is still in full swing and the draft is seven weeks away.

For now, the fair thing to do is wait to see if their plan pans out. The offense, arguably, has more weapons than at any time in recent memory. No, the defense isn't exactly awe-inspiring right now.

But given the way this team's leadership has shown a penchant for bold decisions, the defense also could be remodeled after a few more tough calls.

Not Dunn yet?: Dunn, speaking at Friday's DeBartolo Family Foundation All Star Charity Gala, made no revelations about his future. But he did offer a hint.

"Let's just say I've started back working out," said Dunn, 34. "I know this is just the business side of football. People can say I haven't lost it all. I'm still making people miss. The future is bright whether there's football or no football."

Getting tighter: The tight end position has been revamped in the past week with Tampa Bay landing Winslow and re-signing Jerramy Stevens. Don't overlook what it means. Gruden was well-known for his extensive use of the tight end, but they did a lot more blocking than catching.

Under new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, the Bucs intend to get Winslow and Stevens down the field — sometimes in the same formation. It has the potential to give defenses fits.

Meanwhile, the Bucs might have to make a call between their remaining two tight ends, Alex Smith and John Gilmore.

Job hunting: Galloway and June have been looking for work in the past few days with Galloway visiting the Patriots and Bills and June also visiting the Bills. Hilliard hopes to play in 2009 but is still waiting for teams to bite.

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers brass isn't afraid to make changes 03/07/09 [Last modified: Sunday, March 8, 2009 7:16am]
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