Jim Bates Out, Raheem Morris In: What Impact the DC Change Could Have in Tampa

Oliver EllisCorrespondent INovember 24, 2009

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 27:  Defensive coordinator Jim Bates of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers directs the defense against the Miami Dolphins during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 27, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Jim Bates has been relieved of his play-calling duties as of today.

Bates, who was hired in the offseason, has overseen a defense that has struggled badly this season and as a result is surrendering 29 points and 378 yards per game. It currently ranks 27th overall in the NFL and last (32nd) against the run, allowing 168 yards per game. The team has one win and nine losses to date.

Bates, 63, will stay on with the team at least through the end of the season in a consulting role, breaking down film and assisting Morris on game day from the coaching box.

Bates' previous stint with the Miami Dolphins was successful as he had a top 10—ranked defense in each of his four seasons with the Dolphins. Conversely, Bates' one—year term with the Denver Broncos is a parallel to his time in Tampa Bay. In Denver, Bates was stripped of his play-calling duties and demoted after his defense struggled out of the gate. At the end of the 2007 season, Bates resigned.

Buccaneers’ head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik met until late Monday to discuss the organizational shift, one day after the Bucs were routed by the unbeaten New Orleans Saints 38—7 which was one of the worst home defeats in club history.

All defensive play-calling responsibilities have been taken over by first year head coach Raheem Morris. Morris is expected to immediately return the Bucs’ to their former Tampa Two scheme, which will allow their undersized defensive linemen to benefit from their speed rather than reprimand them for a lack of physical size and bulk. The change in gap disciplines and corner coverages (from bump—and—run to cushioned zones) should help the Bucs’ personnel immensely.

Bucs’ head coach Raheem Morris, 33, is the league's youngest head coach. Prior to succeeding Jon Gruden last January, Morris was named successor to long—time defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, only a month before the Glazer family fired Gruden.

Morris has never officially handled defensive play calling duties in an NFL game before, but did serve as defensive coordinator throughout the 2006 season before accepting an offer to re-join as a defensive backs coach in 2007.

Morris has been more actively involved in the defense in recent weeks. Bates ran a 4—3, two—gap scheme that required the cornerbacks to play less zone and more man—to—man coverage, but the Bucs have been playing more traditional Cover Two as the season has progressed, attempting to eliminate several big plays offenses have scored against them.