TYLER FRAZIER, Bucsblitz.com co-publisher: MORRIS SHOULD BY DC IN 2010.
Trying to defend the idea of having Raheem Morris retain the title of head coach and defensive coordinator is not the easiest task. The only legit reason is that is makes perfect sense for the Bucs financially to do this.
Considering the team is still currently paying a hefty salary to former head coach Jon Gruden, and the team has spent less than any NFL team the last five years in terms of player costs, it was quite a surprise when rumors floated that Tampa would be willing to part way with Morris if a candidate like Bill Cowher decided to return to the NFL.
Many fans may believe that the Glazers want Morris to keep both titles because that would save them money. Even if they gave Morris a slight raise to handle both roles, it would still equate to less than the salaries of most NFL head coaches, and even some college head coaches. The one group of people that should be excited Morris wearing both hats are his defensive players, especially the defensive backs.
Critics of Morris claim that players don't respect him and that they show it every time they call him Rah. What some might not understand is that Morris is closer to some of the defensive players than other head coaches after building relationships with them during his time as defensive backs coach.
There is no doubt that the defense dramatically improved when Morris took over for Jim Bates during the season. You could see it in the players' faces and the emotion they showed on the field. This brings up the question of how much better the defense would have been if Morris would have been in charge from the beginning? Then again, try and find some examples of past head coaches achieving success while working in two different coaching positions.
Some wonder that if Cowher had come to town if Morris would have been given an opportunity to stay on as defensive coordinator, or if he would have left town. Maybe, just maybe, Morris is the perfect fit for what the Bucs need to lead the defensive every Sunday. If that is the case, then there is no reason to look elsewhere for someone to be the defensive coordinator.
MATTHEW POSTINS, Bucsblitz.com contributor: MORRIS SHOULD NOT BE DC IN 2010.
You may look at this argument as weak, considering the defense really responded to Morris as de facto defensive coordinator the final six games of the season. But, realistically, Morris cannot be his own defensive coordinator in 2010.
Yes, it is happening elsewhere, and to great success. Look at what Wade Phillips has done with that defense in Dallas in 2009 as head coach and defensive coordinator. But Phillips has more than 30 years experience as a NFL head coach and defensive coordinator. He may look hang-dog, but he is capable of juggling both balls in the air, and he's proven that, even before he took over the D in Big D.
Morris has exactly one year as a head coach and/or defensive coordinator. He did make the right decision in jettisoning Jim Bates and returning the Bucs to their one-gap, Cover 2 defensive scheme. I could make the argument that Morris never should have made the change in the first place, given the personnel leftover from Monte Kiffin's Top 10 defense, but I won't split hairs. Morris recognized he made a mistake, fixed it and found some success defensively.
But he shouldn't compound it by remaining as the leader of the defense in 2010. Morris learned a great deal in 2009, not the least of which is that today's NFL head coach is a CEO, not a micro-manager (at least the successful ones are). They have to delegate. There are too many demands on their time not to do so. Frankly, I don't know how Phillips has done it all season in Dallas, and I'm not sure how Morris juggled both for those six games. Given the workload at both positions, the task is nearly impossible.
This isn't about whether Morris can do both jobs. It's whether he should. And he shouldn't. A coach must be sharp at all times, and if Morris is stretching himself in two directions in 2010, I question whether he'll have the mental capacity to process all of the things that a head coach must, especially on gameday. There's a reason why coaching staffs have ballooned the past 15 years. The demands on a head coach have risen dramatically.
This doesn't mean that Morris can't take an interest in the defense. But he needs to do the smart thing and delegate the game-planning duties and the signal-calling to someone he trusts. He has a coach with coordinator experience in a Cover 2 on staff in linebackers coach Joe Barry. There would be little issue in elevating Barry to that key position. There are also plenty of potential coordinators on the coaching market that have experience with the Cover 2. Lovie Smith just purged staff in Chicago, and Buffalo's entire staff is looking for work.
While I certainly admire the turnaround that Morris engineered defensively late last season, I would admire him more if he did the smart thing and hired a coordinator who shares his views on defense, understand the Bucs' personnel and has the smarts to lead the defense to better things in 2010. It would be a year too late, but at least it would finally be the right move.