Make us your home page
Instagram

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 defensive backs coach Raheem Morris is a rising NFL coaching star

TAMPA — Raheem Morris is aware of reports that Monte Kiffin may join his son, Lane, at the University of Tennessee next season.

But he hasn't volunteered to drive the Bucs' defensive coordinator to the airport. Nor has he stuffed newspaper in the toes of the size XXXL shoes Kiffin may leave behind.

"You listen to it," said Morris, the Bucs' 32-year-old defensive backs coach, of the talk of Monte Kiffin leaving. "The thing you can't do is get caught up in it.

"You're talking about arguably the best of all time at that position. You let it play it out."

At the same time, Morris isn't one to walk away from a challenge as big as replacing Kiffin.

"It's the same thing I've had to do my whole career. Why would you work after Mike Tomlin?" Morris said. "Why would you go to K-State after Bill Snyder has retired and they can't win anymore? You can't be afraid of challenges. Not with the mind-set you have to have to win in this league."

Morris is a rising star in the NFL coaching business, and he knows it. A protege of Tomlin, a former Bucs defensive backs coach now the Steelers' head coach, he joined the Bucs in 2002 as a defensive quality control coach. The next year he was a defensive assistant, then helped Tomlin until Morris joined Kansas State in 2006 as defensive coordinator.

Realizing their mistake, the Bucs lured Morris back by making him one of their highest-paid assistants. Last season, the secondary improved from 19th to first in the NFL. It currently stands third.

But he doesn't have a contract for next year. Didn't want one.

"Why am I a free agent? It's just my choice," Morris said. "It's nothing with the Buccaneers. They've been awesome. I just chose not to put myself in a position to lock myself up.

"If the opportunity presents itself, I just wanted to have the choice (to go somewhere else). It's no secret they'll make the choice for you. And that's fine. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, and they've done a great job with the coaches. All the guys they've held back have become head coaches or have become coordinators. So they've done something right."

It's not too farfetched to suggest, with as many as 12 head coaching jobs possibly available after the season, Morris could bypass coordinator and interview for a top job.

"I don't know. There's a lot of guys that have done it without (coordinator) experience," Morris said. "But it's about leadership and how you direct your team and becoming a great teacher. Hopefully, I have some of those characteristics. That's why people mention me in that category. It's a passion thing. If you have that, you can become a head coach. If you don't, you won't."

All that is known about Kiffin, 68, is that he will remain with the Bucs until their season ends. He has two years remaining on his contract, and team officials say they know the outcome.

Lane Kiffin, who was introduced as the Vols' coach Monday, won't comment on the staff he is assembling because many of its members are under contract to other teams.

Morris isn't wondering whether the Bucs will ask him to succeed Kiffin if he leaves.

"That's not up to me. I can only control the things I can control," Morris said. "My job is to be a defensive backs coach right now, and I've got at least four games to do it. That's all you're promised is 16. So I've got at least four games to be the best defensive backs coach I can be."

There have been no substantive talks on a new contract between the Bucs and Morris.

"I've got no ill will. I've got no negative feelings," he said. "I just don't even want to put myself in a position to be bitter. So I won't be. Shoot, I might choose to be the defensive backs coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers no matter what my opportunities are. It is what it is. I love my job. I've got the best job in the business."

FAST FACTS

Morris resume

Raheem Morris played safety at Hofstra from 1994-97 and received his bachelor of science degree in physical education. He is from Irvington, N.J.

1998: Hofstra, graduate assistant

1999: Cornell, defensive backs coach/special teams assistant

2000-01: Hofstra, defensive backs coach

2001: Jets, defensive minority internship

2002: Bucs, defensive quality control coach

2003: Bucs, defensive assistant

2004-05: Bucs, assistant defensive backs coach

2006: Kansas State, defensive coordinator

2007-08: Bucs, defensive backs coach

. FAST FACTS

morris info box

Type goes here

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backs coach Raheem Morris is a rising NFL coaching star 12/04/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 8, 2008 11:43am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …