The Bucs say they need to run the football more to give rookie QB Josh Freeman some insulation from defenses that are just keying on the pass. You mean the offensive staff is just NOW figuring that out? That's football 101 when you have a rookie QB.
Josh Freeman has thrown eight interception in two weeks. This is similar to the spate that Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez went through earlier this year. Sanchez, in a three-game span, threw eight interceptions. His numbers since then? Six touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The moral? No rookie QB is immune to these lumps. It's just a matter of how many they take before they turn the corner. Some never do. I think it's safe to say that Freeman, as talented as he is, isn't peering around the corner just yet.
So another loss and another Raheem Morris finger-point extravaganza on Monday. This time, it was his offense that bore the brunt of his criticism, as he told reporters that he questioned some of the offense's effort against the New York Jets. It wasn't long ago that he was questioning the effort of his defense. That unit didn't turn around until he started calling the plays.
Something tells me Morris can't call offensive plays. But he did say the offense has to turn around quick. How quick are we talking, here, Raheem? You have an offensive coordinator who was your quarterbacks coach a week and a half before the season. You have a rookie quarterback. You have an anemic running game. You have a below-average receiving corps. You have an offensive line that isn't play up to its potential. Exactly when do you think you'll see a turnaround? 2011?
I'm growing a little tired of Morris calling out his players each week, whether it's intentional, accidental, watered down or pointed. It's Week 15 and Morris is still seeking, at least in some measure, to motivate through the media and nothing is working. Shouldn't that tell ownership something about the situation?
S Jermaine Phillips spent part of Monday defending his head coach. Naturally, Phillips has good reason. Phillips was one of the players who saw a noticeable uptick in their play when Morris returned to the organization before the 2007 season as defensive backs coach. I don't blame Phillips one bit for defending Morris.
Phillips said, in part, that Morris deserves patience because of the coordinator situation (which Morris created himself, let's not forget), the defensive change and the rookie quarterback. What Phillips says sounds logical, and if I thought this team was really improving or responding to Morris I would back up Phillips.
But I don't see either. I see a rudderless football team looking for direction and not getting enough of it from its head coach. Phillips has had to endure this season from the periphery since his injury. I wonder what the players that have played all season would say, candidly, under no penalty of being revealed? That's an interview I'd like to conduct. Any takers?
Mike Holmgren talked with the Cleveland Browns about their vacant general manager position on Tuesday. The noise I'm hearing is that Big Mike really wants to be an exec now and not a head coach. But one has to wonder if he's looking for a situation in which he can groom a young QB, either as a GM or a coach. If so, Cleveland and Tampa Bay make the most sense, as both teams could be in for changes in the offseason. The Browns have Brady Quinn, the Bucs have Freeman.
Also, don't forget that Brian Billick, the man who hand-crafted the offense that made Randy Moss a star early in his career, is on the market. Freeman, I have to believe, has far more potential than any of the riff-raff Billick was stuck with during his tenure in Baltimore. After two years out of the game, Billick may be looking for a chance to show people what he can really do.
My theory all along has been for the Bucs to hire a name coach, meaning someone who has won a Super Bowl, if they decide to fire Morris. Here's something I hadn't considered. No coach has ever led two different teams to Super Bowl victories. Just learned that yesterday. Yes, Bill Parcells took the Giants and the Patriots to Super Bowls, but the Tuna never won in New England. Holmgren took the Packers and Seahawks, but he never won in Seattle.
It's just a fun fact, but it shouldn't be a determining factor in who the next head coach should be, if Morris is let go. This Bucs team is so far away from contenting for a Super Bowl that it could be two new coaches before they're back in the big game.
Time for our latest edition of the 2010 NFL No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Derby. Sorry, I don't have a better name for this derby that no team wants to be a part of.
Well, Cleveland's victory over Pittsburgh last week moved it out of the three-way deadlock for the No. 1 overall pick. Now, the Bucs and the Rams are the only one-win teams in the NFL. I outlined their schedules last week, but it bears repeating.
The Bucs go to Seattle this Sunday, where they've never won. The Saints will beat them like a drum in Week 16. That leaves Atlanta as their last winnable game in Week 17.
The Rams were toasted by the Titans last week, but they host Houston, followed by divisional games against Arizona and San Francisco. The Cards may have the division clinched by then, meaning they could rest some starters. From my perspective, the Rams have a schedule that better lends itself to claiming that elusive second victory.
Remember, the Bucs get the pick in the event of a tie, thanks to their strength of schedule. The Rams are not helped by the fact that they've played the league's three best teams by record – undefeated Indianapolis and New Orleans, and two-loss Minnesota. Even with the Saints on the Bucs' schedule twice, the Colts and Vikes throw off the curve for the Rams.
You might remember that last week I published an article saying that there were several reasons to consider firing Raheem Morris after just one season? You might also recall that most of my Scout.com colleagues didn't agree with me.
Well, during Sunday's pregame show on ESPN, Adam Schefter asked NFL information guru Chris Mortensen which first-year head coach was more likely to be fired – Morris or Cleveland's Eric Mangini. Mortensen said Morris, citing the same reasons I did – the fact that he fired both of his coordinators and that there were big-name coaches on the market.
Hey, if Mort and I are on the same wavelength, you have to at least consider the possibility that I have a point, right?
CBSSports.com's Clark Judge joined the refrain this week. Judge published an article profiling the eight coaches he thinks are on the hot seat, and he listed Morris as being "unstable." Judge's final sentence was a doozy, as he wondered how a first-year coach could ever get fired after his first year on the job. Judge said Morris was making a convincing case.
He did bring a couple of interesting nuggets of information to the table. Along with my previous points about Morris being in over his head and firing his coordinators, Judge also wrote that the Glazers are reportedly embarrassed by the way Morris has handled the team and that one player reportedly said that he thinks Morris is "bored" with the job (Judge did not specify the player). In fact, Judge did not offer corroboration, not even "unnamed sources."
It might appear as if we're piling on Morris. But that's the NFL. We pile on the teams that aren't playing well. If Morris can't handle that, then he can't handle the job. He's having a hard enough time with the X's and O's. His Bucs have scored seven or fewer points in the first half of nine of their 13 games this year. That's just awful.
With the Jets victory, I improved to 12-2. And the Jets did that without Mark Sanchez. Sheesh. I'll make this short and sweet. You know by reading this column that the Bucs have never won in Seattle. I know the Seahawks aren't a great team this year, but they're significantly better than Tampa Bay. Plus, it's in Seattle. The Bucs lose this one, though it may be closer than my predicted score. Seahawks 28, Bucs 17.