TAMPA — It may not be enough to shoo the wolves from his door, but Bucs coach Raheem Morris said he doesn't believe he deserves to be fired.
Despite a nine-game losing streak, he indicated Monday the organization's decision to become the youngest team in the league two straight seasons could pay off in 2012.
"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. We want to build this thing young, and we want to develop a team that goes out and wins and wins consistently."
Morris said he, general manager Mark Dominik and the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, bought into the building-with-youth plan. He referenced the decision not to re-sign free agent middle linebacker Barrett Ruud in the offseason in order to start rookie middle linebacker Mason Foster, a third-round draft pick from Washington.
"In order to upgrade in certain positions, sometimes you got to get worse before you get better," Morris said. "Going out and getting a young middle linebacker was something we decided to do. 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.
"It's not even about me. It's about us collectively. … Last year the same team won 10 games through a little bit of smoke and mirrors, so to speak, but that's not the point. … You don't win 10 games by accident. You win 10 games because you followed the formula — fast, hard, smart and consistent. You didn't turn the football over, you went out there and competed in every single game you had a chance to win. Even when we won 10 games, we barely won those 10 games. That's the point."
The Bucs (4-11) are last in the league in scoring defense, allowing an average 29.9 points per game, with Morris also serving as defensive coordinator. A bigger factor has been 28 giveaways during their nine-game losing streak. Morris said in many cases that's the result of players going "outside the box'' to make plays. He cited tight end Kellen Winslow trying to leap over defenders and losing a fumble in a 48-16 loss at Carolina on Saturday.
What bothers Morris is that the Bucs often have not been competitive. Tampa Bay has allowed at least 31 points in six of its past seven games and has been outscored by an average of 18.3 points per game.
"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 (for the Bucs)."
In Winslow's case, Morris said, he was trying to do too much to win the game for the coach.
"There's no question," Morris said. "Kellen Winslow is a prime example of, 'I'm going to win this game despite anything around me for Raheem.' That was not a selfish act."
Questions about whether Morris has lost the team is "garbage talk," he said.
"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," he said.