Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris 'having a ball' calling defense

TAMPA — Assuming he returns as Bucs coach — and there's no solid indication otherwise — Raheem Morris will still double as defensive coordinator next season.

"It is my decision," he said. "When I say I like doing it, it means I'm going to go back and look at the stats and look at the production and how helpful it really was. You want to evaluate yourself and look at these last (six) games.

"But I've got to be honest. It's a lot of fun. I'm having a ball."

The defense's improvement since Morris took over play-calling from defensive coordinator Jim Bates is startling. In the first 10 games, Tampa Bay allowed 29.4 points and 378.3 yards per game. In the past five games under Morris, the defense has allowed 17.2 points and 333.8 yards per game.

Morris says one of the biggest adjustments was returning to a one-gap system on the defensive front. But he still has the ability to mix coverages.

"It was a learning experience for me," Morris said. "Do I like calling it? There's no doubt. Do I look back and say should I have called it from the beginning? There's no doubt. Would I have been able to do as much as I do now without that learning experience? I don't know.

"It's been a lot of the same stuff we've done in the past just morphed into it. There's been some things we've been able to add we didn't have before."

The double-duty does put a little more pressure on his decisionmaking as the coach, but Morris says it isn't anything he can't handle.

"I've got to make the adjustments, come back, get on the headsets and hope I get back there for third down to figure out if I want to go for it on fourth down. … It's funny, because before this, my all-time dream was to be a defensive coordinator like Monte Kiffin … and die in my office."

Make a play: One of the Bucs' biggest disappointments has been S Sabby Piscitelli.

The third-year pro has played in 15 games this season, starting 14, and has one interception and three passes defensed. That's one more than DE Gaines Adams, who was traded to Chicago in October.

"It's tough to do. You've got to be in better position to make plays," Morris said. "You've got to do a better job of making plays. That's what we've got to find out this offseason. We've got to go back to the board with him and fix him and deal with (him)."

Last week at New Orleans, Piscitelli was so ineffective in supporting the run that the Bucs switched him with S Tanard Jackson in the second half.

Piscitelli could have been the goat when he went over the back of WR Robert Meachem after a short completion on third and 3 from the Tampa Bay 38-yard line. The missed tackle resulted in a 19-yard gain. But Saints K Garrett Hartley missed a 37-yard field goal that would've won the game in regulation.

"That was a bad decision," Morris said. "You can't do that. He was trying to knock the ball out, and he got bailed out by a bad kick."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris 'having a ball' calling defense 01/02/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 2, 2010 3:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose


    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  2. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  3. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”