Tampa Bay Recap Week 15

The Bucs won their third game of the season on Sunday but lost Jimmy Wilkerson and Earnest Graham in the process to injuries. Read on to find out who the Bucs new starting fullback will be, what Raheem Morris had to say about the rumors surronding Bill Cowher and Rich Bisacchia, why Geno Hayes could be facing a fine from the NFL and how the Bucs graded out against the Saints.

Coach Raheem Morris hasn't heard from the Buccaneers owners about whether he will return in 2010.

He isn't asking them, either.

One day after the Bucs pulled off a huge upset of the Saints in New Orleans, Morris dealt with questions about reports the Bucs had contacted former Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

"I don't think Bill Cowher makes those decisions," Morris said, "I think our ownership does. I know I don't, so I don't worry about it.

"When was the last time you've seen one of my owners speak publicly? That's not what we do around here. We don't have to answer to all the critics. That's not our job. They came out when they got a rumor about them and (Bernie) Madoff. Good. That's what they do. We don't do that stuff. We don't have to.

"The assurance they gave to me is I've got to do my job tomorrow. That's what you've got to do. When you're put in a position to coach a football team, you coach it. And that's what you do until they tell you to stop, and that's what I'm going to do now."

Morris also denied a report on ESPN that special teams coach Richard Bisaccia was headed to join Lane Kiffin and Monte Kiffin at the University of Tennessee and that defensive backs coach Joe Baker and defensive line coach Robert Nunn won't be back next season.

"Again, all rumors," Morris said. "Rich Bisaccia is under contract last time I checked. All my guys are. We make evaluations on everybody at the end of the season. We're just coaching, and we've got one more game to play. I know it's fun for you guys to do the coaches carousel, but for us, it's reality. It's life. This is what we do.

"This game is not for everybody. Not for the mentally weak. It's not for the soft. It's not for everybody. For me, it's about production, going onto the field and progressing. All that other stuff is gray matter. All that other stuff just messes you up for next week. ... You can start thinking about all that stuff and get caught up and lose sight that (Atlanta's) Matt Ryan is coming to town and you've got to tackle (Michael) Turner. That's how you get messed up. I prefer to think about Atlanta coming up here. I prefer to watch that tape upstairs and enjoy myself. I prefer to look at my guys' progress and development. And to see that locker room (Sunday), I prefer to do that. That's just how I'm made up."

Following Sunday's game, Morris said he believed if he were about to be fired, the Glazer family, which owns the team, would approach him "like men." But he said Monday he didn't need any public votes of confidence from ownership.

"The Glazers don't do stuff like that," Morris said. "They come in your office and we talk all the time. They don't have to do that. That's not their job. They're the boss. Did your boss tell you you're going to be writing for the paper tomorrow? I'm pretty sure I'm going to be here tomorrow as well.

"I don't think I'm going to find out on 'SportsCenter' is what I'm saying about that. These guys are high character people and high quality people. They'll come knock on my door or I'll get a call from somebody to come down and see them."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Not only have the Buccaneers won their last two games -- both on the road in hostile stadiums -- but coach Raheem Morris has had a major hand in those victories. He took over the play-calling on defense after the Saints buried them by 31 points six weeks ago. Since that time, the Bucs have allowed just 17.4 points per game. That's a stark improvement from when they surrendered 378 yards and 29 points per game under Jim Bates.

--The Bucs placed two players on injured reserve for the final game. Running back Earnest Graham suffered a torn ligament in his right big toe. Defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson tore the ACL in his left knee.

Fullback Chris Pressley will take over from Graham in the starting lineup.

--The Bucs may have found a placekicker in Conner Barth, who kicked the game-winning field goal against the Saints on Sunday.

"All he's done is come in here and make a couple field goals for us and really be consistent," Morris said. "He missed a couple, but for the most part he's been banging them.

"He had the big three-50-yard-field-goal day; (Sunday) he kicked the game-winner against the New Orleans Saints. He's pretty much been pretty consistent all year. We had a couple blunders there, a couple blunders on the kickoffs, but he's a young man. Don't forget, those kickers are young, too, and they make mistakes at the same time.

"It's nice to see him grow up and him mature and him do certain things as well. You've definitely got to take him into consideration for the future. He's a young kicker with a strong leg."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--DE Jimmy Wilkerson suffered a torn left ACL, and he will miss the final game of the season.

--FB Earnest Graham tore a ligament in his right big toe, and he will miss the final game against Atlanta.

--LB Geno Hayes faces a substantial fine for missing the team bus to the Superdome on Sunday. He was benched for the first quarter. Hayes also was late for the season opener against Dallas at Raymond James Stadium.

--RB Cadillac Williams is a key to the Bucs' success. When Williams rushes 22 times in a game, Tampa Bay is 11-0.

--TE Kellen Winslow has 828 receiving yards, breaking the club single-season record for tight ends held by Jimmie Giles.

REPORT CARD VS. SAINTS

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Josh Freeman still is having trouble starting fast in games. He threw two interceptions in the first half Sunday. However, Freeman has demonstrated a live arm.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- Cadillac Williams became the first Bucs back to go over 100 yards in a game this season. He also carried 10 times for 40 yards in overtime.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Drew Brees picked apart the Buccaneers for 258 yards on 32-of-37 passing. He wasn't picked off, and he was sacked just once.

RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Saints ran the ball early and often in the first half in building a 17-0 lead. But Raheem Morris switched safeties, bringing Tanard Jackson down in the box because he's a better tackler, and that helped Tampa Bay earn the comeback win.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- The biggest play Sunday was Micheal Spurlock's 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. Spurlock re-signed with the team last week. Connor Barth booted a 47-yard field goal for the win in overtime.

COACHING: A -- Give Morris credit. Amid reports the Bucs owners contacted Bill Cowher, he made the best statement for remaining with the team.


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