It’s a little early to be putting together a list of coaches on the hot seat in 2010, but it’s clear there is going to be a small campfire under the chair of one coach heading toward next season.
Whether or not it turns into a full-blown blaze remains to be seen. Raheem Morris is going to have to carefully plot his moves this offseason in preparation for what might be a playoffs-or-bust scenario in Tampa Bay. Sound unrealistic? First, consider all the noise there was during the season and in the immediate aftermath of it about a change. Ownership came out and backed Morris and there were still skeptics.
Then, realize that he’s essentially under a one-year contract right now. When Morris emerged as the surprise candidate to replace Jon Gruden last year, the Bucs found a surprised and willing candidate to take their job, and take it under their terms. Morris signed a two-year contract with a club option for a third year. That means the Bucs, who have been tight with cash flow when it comes to players over the last five years, won’t owe a coach any money to leave. They’re still paying Gruden and Bruce Allen good money.
So, Morris essentially goes back to square one—offensive coordinator Greg Olson will have an offseason teach his offense and Morris will have a chance to re-install the Tampa Two—needing to prove he can win immediately. Olson was promoted over Jeff Jagodzinski just before the season started. Morris ousted defensive coordinator Jim Bates after 10 games and took over the defense.
The good news? There is a history of worst-to-first turnarounds in the NFC South, and the Bucs were competitive in parts of the second half of the season, engineering an upset at New Orleans. The 3-13 season was the worst for the franchise since 1991. But Morris and his staff, which is being rebuilt with the departure of some coaches, faces a tough task of finding success quickly. It may be difficult for Morris to attract top candidates for some of his openings, too, given his uncertain future. The Bucs own the third pick in the draft and have five of the top 99 selections, so help will be on the way. Can they mold it quickly?
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