It’s a good thing Raheem Morris is going into his first season as an NFL head coach, otherwise he’d probably have as much grey hair on his bald head as a sitting President of the USA after one year in office.
As it stands, he is blissfully unaware of the major changes that the new-look Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be implementing, as well as how dramatic an effect these changes might have.
What will it feel like for Morris, not having “Chucky” on the side lines wearing a thousand different expressions and “cussing” up a storm in an attempt to fire up his troops? Now he has to be the master motivator.
After all, Morris spent the last two seasons as Tampa’s DB coach, showcasing what was arguably the best trio of safeties in the NFL. That meant he didn’t have to deal with all the issues that take you away from being a football coach and turn you into a “manager.” Not any more!
I mean, can you conceive of the “Tampa 2” being a defunct scheme in the city in which it was created and perfected as a modified version of the “cover 2?" The Bucs are legendary for their stalwart defenses of yesteryears (wow, that sounds old), led by the likes of Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Warren Sapp, to name a few. But with the exit of Monte Kiffin to, shall we say, younger pastures, Tampa can wave goodbye to its fabled defensive scheme.
Enter Jim Bates. With 17 years of NFL coaching experience, and being the architect of the Broncos 2007 defense that ranked 7th in the NFL in pass defense, Bates brings a completely different look to the 2009 Bucs defense.
While Bates will still run a 4-3 defense, that’s really where the similarities to the “Tampa 2” end. Unlike the big, bruising linebackers of the “Tampa 2,” Bates’ “run contain” defense prefers the smaller, speedier linebackers, just like he had in Denver.
On the offensive side of the ball, the challenges don’t get any easier for first year offensive coordinator, Jeff Jagodzinski. With nine years NFL coaching experience, and a recent stint as Boston College’s head coach leading BC to a 9-3 record in 2008, Jagodzinski has his work cut out for him.
He’ll have to find a quarterback to efficiently lead his offense, and he doesn’t necessarily have the greatest pool to pick from. With McCown, Griese, and Leftwich the only veterans in the group, the heir apparent to the throne in Tampa is rookie Josh Freeman. Only problem is he’s not even close to being NFL ready.
This means that Jagodzinski will have to hope his “Cadillac” is out of the shop and ready to run, otherwise he’ll find he has an extremely one dimensional offense with quarterbacks that are not very mobile and no other big-time running backs in the stable.
With 12 games played last season between the three veteran quarterbacks, it’s completely up in the air who the starter will be, or for that matter, what sort of season he’ll have. Maybe Raheem Morris might still get those grey hairs after all.