Three Critical Questions Morris Must Answer

January 2nd, 2012

Before or after Bucs embattled coach Raheem Morris joins Joe – in a manner of speaking – at the Outback Bowl today to enjoy some good football for a change, he will have a sit down with perhaps Team Glazer or Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik or both to discuss his employment status with the Bucs.

Now, Joe knows that Team Glazer and Dominik, unlike the rest of us, are not mental midgets. So Joe suspects there are at least three questions that Morris needs to answer fully if he is to be retained as Bucs head coach, much less defensive coordinator.

1) Why was your team rarely prepared?

Now Joe knows that playing high school football in southern Illinois is in no way to be compared to the NFL. It’s a preposterous thought. But Joe had the luxury of having a coach who had just retired from the NFL. This guy was coached by John Madden, Tom Landry, Gene Stallings and Lou Holtz, all in their prime. Indirectly, you could say Joe was also coached by Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes.

Whenever we, as a team, would ask our coach about how an opponent might react or respond, his stock answer was, with a devilish grin, “You never know.” In short, no matter what defensive formation we were in, we were prepared for the kitchen sink to be thrown at us.

After games and in later years, Joe would talk to players of teams we beat, teams in some cases we had no business beating, and these former opponents would almost say the same thing, “It was like you always knew what we were doing.”

It was preparation. That was drilled in our head: That the smarter team, the better prepared team can always get the upperhand of a more athletically gifted team.

So when week after week Joe would see the Bucs struggle early in games and after a loss, Joe would hear some sort of take from Morris saying the Bucs didn’t expect X, Y or Z or the opponent did something the Bucs weren’t expecting. Well, a few times is understandable. Not week after week.

The Bucs haven’t scored 10 points in the first quarter dating back to the Chucky administration. The fact that never has a Morris/Greg Olson squad been able to score 10 points in three years is difficult to fathom.

Throw in the fact Morris’ defenses often found themselves scurrying for cover in the early stages of most games, the root of the evil is simply lack of preparation.

That squarely falls on the coaching staff’s shoulders. How is it week after week opposing teams could be prepared and not the Bucs? Give Morris credit for, prior to this year’s London trip, for finding a way to plug defensive leaks in the second half. But he shouldn’t have had to consistently, or rely on the magic of Josh Freeman’s fourth quarter rallies last year, if he and his staff did their jobs in the days leading up to the game.

2) The misuse of LeGarrette Blount.

From the early weeks of this season, it was clear the Bucs passing game was off. You can use legitimate excuses (Freeman’s health) or illegitimate excuses (no offseason) to blame for this.

With the struggles of the offense, it was crystal clear the Bucs’ best weapon was Blount. Yet the Bucs, short of the Packers loss, rarely used him. It seemed Olson couldn’t wait for the Bucs to fall behind 10 points (and with the way the Bucs defense played this year, that didn’t take long) so he would have a reason to bench Blount the rest of the game.

If there was one main reason for no offense this year, it was how Blount was horribly used. He was the key to the Bucs offense. Once he would start running the ball, it naturally would loosen up the defense for the passing game. And Blount showed flashed ability in the passing game. But no, Olson was happier with Freeman forcing passes to Kellen Winslow in triple coverage than to give the ball to a guy who threatened to take the ball to the house every time he touched the ball.

Now Joe has heard many stories about how Blount is often late to meetings or doesn’t study his playbook effectively. For example, former Bucs quarterback Shaun King hints at these stories on his WQYK-AM 1010 radio show. But you know what? If Blount was truly this irresponsible, why didn’t Morris just deactivate him?

If, as has been suggested, Olson and the Bucs didn’t trust Blount (because he didn’t know the playbook/late to meetings) then why was he on the active roster? How about deactivating him and telling him, “Look, as soon as you start showing up to meetings on time and know the playbook, then we will activate you.”

Morris had him on the active roster, USE HIM! If you couldn’t use him, or didn’t want to use him, then why on earth did he eat up a roster spot and take away valuable practice and playing time from someone like Mossis Madu?

This gets to the next question that Morris needs to answer:

3) Why the lack of discipline and the wanton use of discipline?

So Blount fumbled and you benched him. Freeman made turnovers too. Did you bench him? Others fumbled too, did you bench them?

Winslow fumbled but that’s OK, he was trying. Ah, got it. So Blount wasn’t trying to gain yards when he fumbled?

Players made dumb penalties all year. So roughly three-quarters through the season, Morris decides to make an example of Brian Price, a guy Morris should laud since he’s playing on one leg, and shows him up in front of both teammates and a home crowd and told to go home, like some high school stunt.

How many first downs did Winslow cost the Bucs with offensive interference calls? Oh, but he was trying, Joe’s guessing, so that was OK.

(And yes, Joe understands Winslow was a target of zebras, a lot of calls against him were BS.)

Hey, no problem laying the law down with players for not using their heads. But why not start that in, you know, maybe August instead of November? And it might be a wise thing to dish out the discipline evenly instead of looking the other way with alleged favorites. No wonder people claim Morris lost the team.

It is Morris’ answer to those three critical questions from non-mental midgets like Team Glazer and Dominik that may very well determine if Morris will get a chance to see his fourth year as Bucs head coach.

20 Responses to “Three Critical Questions Morris Must Answer”

  1. raphael Says:

    Talib gets away with murder [ no pun attempted] and Price has 1 penalty and gets benched ! The nail on the head joe was the DISCIPLINE or lack there of …imo

  2. McBucs Says:

    IL Joe, that “mental midget” line really burned your rear huh, The two articles that you mentioned it were great reads.

  3. McBucs Says:

    Oh, and you are right on with this article…

  4. canadianbuc Says:

    Joe i really hope that you and him don’t have to meet at the bowl because as all bucs fans around the world hope and pray that this guy will be fired in the immediate hours. So instead of being at the bowl game he can clean out is office!

  5. holymoly Says:

    Gotta agree Joe , this team looked unprepared every week after the 4-2 start and that problem lies with the coaching staff . After Raheem and Olsen are gone , hope the Bucs get someone who can coach up Free and get started on next season . Mental midgets – too funny

  6. McBucs Says:

    Why did it take them so long to get Madu involved as well. He looks like he could be the “change of pace” back we need. That little dude from ATL kicked our d’s arse pretty good after Turner made us even softer than normal.

  7. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Besides the “mental midget” part, it’s hard to argue with anything in this article. In no way is it wrong to fire Morris. However, I learned without a Doubt yesterday that much of our problems still lie with not being talented/deep enough. We all know Freeman was doo doo this year, but did he really have any help? Look at the backup for the Packers
    yesterday-480 yards! Did Freeman even throw for 480 in December? Anybody think he’s better than Freeman? When the other team has no fear of any of our wideouts, they can load up and stop Blount. It’s a DC’s dream to play against a team with no explosion like the Bucs.

  8. Patrick Says:

    I’m in school right now and i keep coming back on here to see if he’s been fired lol.

  9. McBucs Says:

    Patrick, probably this afternoon, they should announce it at the presser.

  10. tj Says:

    Great post . He should have sent talib home during the bears game

  11. canadianbuc Says:

    @Hawaiian Matt Flynn has all star WR (example) jordy nelson james jones donald driver all deep rout perfectionists. Plus go on youtube and watch some free to nelson connections and K State it shows you josh can play with good WRs.

  12. lj Says:

    I think a lot of Freemans problems are tied to the defense. With the defense not having the ability to get off the field Freeman felt that the offense must score on every time they had the ball. Combine that with the fact that he had such a good season in 2010 he felt he could carry the team alone.. Also there were quite a few interceptions that were the receivers fault passes hitting their hands and bouncing to a defender. Almost all the second year players took a step back and the whole team looked lost after the London trip.I hope the Glazers will hire a coach that will instill disclipine and fix the debacle of a team that we were subjected to this season.

  13. Macabee Says:

    No more questions, no more answers. This trial is over! Morris has been tried in the court of public opinion and has been found guilty. We are now in the sentencing phase. Will he get probation and work release (retained with new DC and OC)? Or will he get the death penalty (fired)?

  14. Jake Says:

    From here on in, every second that passes without an announcement of termination of Morris as head coach is cause to question the commitment and intentions of the Glazers. There is nothing to belabor over. This decision should be a no brainier and done quickly to begin to bring together a team and fan base that has hit rock bottom. Or, so I think?

  15. AtlBucsFan Says:

    Good read Joe. Right on! The next question Raheem should ask is “Where’s the door?”

  16. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    That’s exactly my point (I thought I made that very clear). Freeman just doesn’t have the weapons to be successful right now. I don’t even know if Tom Brady would be successful with our personnel.

  17. Meh Says:

    Worst defense in Buc’s history. That’s reason #1 he shouldn’t even get a chance to answer these 3 questions.

  18. Bucbeliever Says:

    Free was good last year when the D would not “break” and his magic came at the end down by one possession. This year, the D has crumbled and, as evidenced in Lynch’s commentary, sickened every Buc fan to the core. Free can’t be expected to put up TD:INT ratio of 5 to 1 in a year when we’re down by 3+ possessions going into halftime.

    Get back to old Buc D and Free will be a pro bowler.

    2 years ago: focused on DTs – McCoy, Price
    1 year ago: focused on DEs – Clayborn, Bowers
    This year: focus on CBs

    We all got excited when this offense had the potential to to be the best Tampa has ever seen before. Unfortunately, we got the worst defense that Tampa has never seen.

    GO BUCS!

  19. holymoly Says:

    Rah is done !! Good riddance

  20. marks Says:

    Great post Joe.