The Disasters Of 2009April 1st, 2014
Looking back, the 2009 offseason was, well, strange for the Bucs, and that’s being polite.
It began some two weeks after the Bucs ended their regular season when Team Glazer decided to jettison the only coach in franchise history able to reach the Holy Grail and win the Super Bowl. And this happened after two consecutive winning seasons, and winning seasons in three of Chucky’s final four years — years that saw the Bucs win the NFC South twice.
Within hours, not even 24 hours, the Bucs had hired little-known secondary coach and apparent heir to Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator, Raheem Morris.
Joe remembers being at a south Tampa watering hole with his good friend Justin Pawlowski, “The Commish,” watching the news conference of Morris’ coronation, and both Joe and Pawlowski looking at each other thinking the same thing.
“What the hell is going on?”
The Bucs had not even conducted a coaching search, perhaps partly because of the late date of Chucky’s firing.
After a major tease in 2010, when the Bucs were denied a playoff berth on a rotten call, reversing a touchdown catch by DJ Toes on the Line, Morris’ charges completely and totally collapsed. The Bucs lost 10 straight games to finish the 2011.
In many ways, the franchise has never recovered, not so much from the Chucky firing but for who succeeded him.
And it wasn’t just the Bucs who are still living the nightmare of the 2009 offseason. It seems just about every move made by a team that offseason turned to disaster. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports documents all that blew up that offseason — the list is long and cringe-inducing — and offered the following take on the Bucs.
Morris became increasingly close with players — far too close in the estimation of many, and after a strong start, he quickly fizzled. He, like McDaniels and others on this list, was in his early 30s when first hired — perhaps too young — and after rebounding to go 10-6 in 2010 he was fired in 2011 with a 17-31 overall record in Tampa Bay.
It wasn’t just Morris being pals with players and going out drinking with them. It was his look-the-other-way mentality. Joe remembers a high-ranking Bucs source explaining to him that Bucs commander Greg Schiano was brought in, largely, to clean up the cesspool that was the Bucs locker room under Morris’ (lack of?) leadership.
Though Chucky was flat horrible with the draft, he and Bruce Allen were always able to use baling wire to string together a decent team from loose, often aging parts. Regardless, Team Glazer may have had valid reasons for jettisoning Chucky.
Joe suspects at some point soon, current coach Lovie Smith may be able to replicate what Chucky did in his final years with the Bucs.