“What Better Opportunity Than To Ruin Their Day”

December 16th, 2020

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BY IRA KAUFMAN

A decade has passed and Buc fans still haven’t gotten over the Raheem Morris era.

He replaced Jon Gruden on the sidelines in 2009 and by the next season, Tampa Bay won 10 games. That’s a mark this franchise has failed to match under four subsequent head coaches.

On Sunday, Morris will be strolling the opposite sideline in Atlanta when the 8-5 Bucs attempt to virtually wrap up a postseason berth.

Falcons head coach Raheem Morris during his days of leading the Bucs

“This week, we have a formidable opponent in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, trying to make a playoff run that we could put a screeching half to, which would be nice,” Morris said Wednesday in a conference call with Tampa Bay media.

I asked Morris about that magical 2010 season, a year that gave the Glazers their most joy as owners since the 2002 championship slate.

That was the season Josh Freeman emerged as a big-time quarterback with 25 TD passes and only six interceptions. And it was widely reporter that those Bucs were the first since the 1970 merger to win have a winning season with 10 rookies making starts.

In the words Gruden coined previously to describe the franchise’s potential, the future seemed so bright in Tampa, Buc players and coaches needed shades.

“We did it with a young team,” Morris said, “and I was really proud of it. We needed a chance to grow, we needed a chance to add some veterans.”

Fat chance.

Instead, the Bucs sat on their wallets and were passive in free agency. When Morris took the job, a veteran purge swept Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway, Warrick Dunn, Ike Hilliard and Cato June out the door at One Buc Place. After a 4-2 start in 2011, Tampa Bay lost its final 10 games.

During that prolonged tailspin, the lack of veteran leadership became apparent.

Morris was fired, only one year removed from a glorious season.

“When I got the job, I was 32 and thought I had all the answers,” Morris said. “Obviously, I didn’t. It didn’t work out and you’ve got to move on.”

The Falcons were 0-5 when Arthur Blank had finally seen enough. He fired Dan Quinn and Morris was named interim coach. When asked if Morris had a legitimate shot to keep the job in 2021, Blank quipped “of course he does, if he goes 11-0.”

That was a really bad joke, but it provided a glimpse into Blank’s plans.

Atlanta is 4-4 with Morris at the helm and it’s unlikely he’ll be with the Falcons next season. A new GM and a new head coach are coming to Flowery Branch, but Morris could have a shot elsewhere.

“I would hope so,” said Bruce Arians. “As you grow as a coach, you learn. I think for him, coaching offense and defense while he’s been in Atlanta makes him even a better candidate. He has a great rapport with players and players love playing for him. If you’re looking for a head coach, what else are you looking for?

Morris is putting his best self on tape for all to see. He might end up with the Lions or the Jets in 2021. The Chargers or Jaguars could decide Morris deserves a second chance.

He’s married now, with three kids. Instead of hitting night spots in south Tampa, Morris prides himself on being a family man. By his own admission, he’s a lot less fun to hang with.

That’s alright — trying to reach the top of your profession is serious business. At the age of 44, Raheem Morris is no longer youngry.

But he’s still driven.

“Here comes a division opponent we don’t like,” he said of Sunday’s matchup. “What better opportunity than to ruin their day?”

Ira!

17 Responses to ““What Better Opportunity Than To Ruin Their Day””

  1. Coburn Says:

    Always thought he was setup to fail and quite frankly just wasn’t quite ready at that time. He knows football though and must be well respected around the league

  2. unbelievable Says:

    ^ 100%

    Glazers never gave him a fair shake.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Keep talking RAHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEM……you will motivate us to kick your sorry a$$…..

  4. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Rah was far from our worst coach.
    It was an interesting time for this team.

  5. Hodad Says:

    I remember seeing Raheem at a Magic game with Talib. The two were acting like a couple of goof ball high school kids. It was a Friday during game week. Sitting close to where they were they left early. Like I said, it was game week Friday. I’d bet they hit Rachel’s on the way home. Raheem was way to immature for that job. I bet tho him, and Gruden would’ve made a good pair. They should of kept Gruden another year, with Rah as his D.C.. The Glazers could ruin a wet dream.

  6. PSL Bob Says:

    I’ll take partial responsibility for his and the team’s demise after 2010. I bought a Freeman jersey at the beginning of the 2011 season. I truly believed, a bit naively, that Freeman was going to lead the team to glory.

  7. Jay Molina Says:

    Yup, his nightly attendance at the Blue Martini helped ruin a young and impressionable Freeman. 2010 was a fluke as was Freeman’s performance. Raheem is a far better defensive coach than a head coach.

  8. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Raheem did so much, with so little.
    The Glazers treated him like a Red Headed Stepchild, but he still won, and made the Bucs a lot of fun to watch, for awhile.
    His players literally love him, and you can bet they will try their very best, to ruin our little playoff party.
    Remember, we have to face Dirk Koetter too, who was not happy about the Tampa situation either.
    You can bet both will be scheming to beat us Sunday.

  9. Buczilla Says:

    The Glazers screwed this guy, but that’s not my problem and I hope that we smash his despised falcons.

  10. Buddha Says:

    Excuses. Excuses. His team quit on him. He quit on the team. Those last 4 or 5 games as coach were about the worst in the history of this franchise.

  11. bojim Says:

    Freeman could’ve been one of the best.

  12. ModHairKen Says:

    “When Morris took the job, a veteran purge swept Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway, Warrick Dunn, Ike Hilliard and Cato June out the door at One Buc Place”

    Come on, Joe. Dunn left before Gruden. Are you Stephen A. Smith?

    Raheem was an undisciplined, unprepared guy who got a run of undeserved credit. Biggest error of the Glazer era.

  13. Joe Says:

    Come on, Joe. Dunn left before Gruden. Are you Stephen A. Smith?

    And Dunn returned. Don’t believe Joe? Google is your friend. Or, you can just use Joe’s free archives to read this gem.

    Vividly remember Dunn getting hurt at the stadium and Earnest Graham took over, moving from fullback to tailback and had a good game. Chucky gave him a special shout out for coming through for the team.

  14. TampaTown Says:

    Thanks for the link Joe and the walk through memory lane, even if it was as a memory. Can’t avoid the sad times as Buc fans.

  15. REDZONE BA Says:

    Rah was YOUNG, innocently naive, and clearly not ready to be a Head Coach when he accepted the role as HC for Bucs back then. Who would not accept HC role? Go Rah!

    Rah has matured…kinda like JW. Next chapter for Rah, likely not Birds, will be good for the team who hires him. HC or key assistant. For our game vs Birds, I expect a hard game, with win coming at the end, decided by a kick. Go Bucs!

  16. jb Says:

    I knew Rah was in over his head when I saw him on the sidelines before our home opener and he was showing some fans that walked up to him a half hour before kickoff and he was pointing out where their seats were. He was just happy to be a young NFL head coach.
    I’d love to see us hang 50 points on his sorry a$$.

  17. Razor Ramone Says:

    Whose gonna be the kicker?