QUOTE: “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” -- Oscar Wilde
Now, the sixth NFL coach has been fired, and the second coordinator in Tampa Bay has been removed. Jim Bates, the Bucs defensive coordinator, was relieved of his duties by head coach Raheem Morris, who then proclaimed he was going to take over the defense and go back to the team’s old style. Morris, who had never been a coordinator in the NFL before being promoted to head coach, decided to bring in Bates to change the defense in Tampa and give the Bucs a new identity. Since his background is defense, he must have known beforehand the system Bates was going to run and how it would blend with the personnel already in Tampa. This is assuming that Morris knows what he’s doing. And based on what’s going on in Tampa since the firing of Jon “Love You Bro” Gruden, one would never assume that they know anything about running a professional football team. What’s happening in Tampa right now would even insult the people who play Madden 2009.
How can the Bucs make this many mistakes in one season? Simple. It takes professional football people to run a professional football organization, and nothing about Tampa since last January has been professional. They’ve been the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight,” adhering to the basic principle of being lost but at least making great time. Making a mistake on your offensive coordinator is one thing, but making a mistake in the area of your own expertise shows a lapse in your own knowledge. Did the Bucs wait for the first loss from the bye week to make this move since just nine days ago they got their first win?
I’m somewhat sympathetic to Raheem Morris because he’s been learning on the job, but the NFL is not the place to learn. I’m not sympathetic to the Bucs for not surrounding Morris with experienced people in the front office to help him navigate the tough terrain called the NFL. It takes professional football people who know how to build teams and develop a comprehensive procurement program. Combining Morris with an inexperienced Mark Dominik as GM showed the Buccaneers faithful that their ownership group thinks anyone can run an NFL team. Neither Morris nor Dominik has the foundation in their backgrounds to successfully do their jobs without making costly decisions. This idea of going young to save money is a faulty one since inexperience can cause mistakes and mistakes cost money. So where is the cost-saving in that concept? This “on-the-job tutorial” for Morris and Dominik is causing the Bucs to look bad in the eyes of their fans — and their contemporaries around the league. It takes experience to become a head coach or general manager, and it takes experience hiring people to find the right people to hire. Both of them have failed in this area.
What bothers me most is that had the Bucs (meaning Morris and Dominik) been a little more experienced, they would have known what they were getting into with their coordinators. First impressions are lasting, and the Bucs looked bad with both hires. When it comes to Jim Bates, it’s fairly clear what style of defense he brings. Whether you like Bates or not — I happen to like him -- the defense he wants to run is his own. There’s little room for misinterpretation when it comes to his style of defense, and if it was good for you in February, why is it now a bad idea after 10 games? Yes, the Bucs are bad on defense, and no, they don’t have the talent to run the Bates scheme -- but these are conditions that should have been known before he was hired. Making mistakes I can understand. Making mistakes in the foundation of your team building are costly and can cost people their livelihoods. As Don Corleone once told Michael in “The Godfather,” “Women and children can be careless, men cannot.” Morris and Dominik were just plain careless in their hiring process, and the core of their foundation as a team has been broken.
Doubt has crept into the minds of the players in the locker room with each move Morris makes because there’s doubt in every move. Not having experience creates a sense of uncertainty with your decision-making, and the more mistakes a leader makes, the less likely his followers will follow. Doubt is never a good thing for anyone.
What should the Bucs do? Should Morris keep his job? My sense and recommendation to the Glazer family is to stop running the team like it’s the Dave Clark Five and let one person with experience come in to run the football operation. My reaction to Morris is the same as the one I have for Eric “The Secret” Mangini with the Browns: Being patient is fine, but patiently going in the wrong direction is still going in the wrong direction. All over the league, we’re seeing a void in clubs willing to place resources into a team builder, and we’re left with a poor excuse of a Madden 2009 team. I wrote in August that there were 12 teams competing for a title and 20 teams playing Madden 2009 -- and the Bucs are not even playing that game right.
Matt “I love me some field-goal kicker for my Texans” Bowen...
Well, Matt, your team is right about where I thought they might be, but never did I think they would be behind the Jags in third place. They’re just good enough to look good, but not good enough to finish. And I’m going to look even better hanging with the band in Amsterdam. I better start working on my favorite set list now.
For a look at the Vince Young-led revival of the Titans, check out this article from Bleacher Report.
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