The Bucs already fired one of their coordinators before the 2009 regular season started. Ten games into the season the team appears to be on the verge of parting ways with another one.
Tampa Bay has demoted defensive coordinator Jim Bates and handed playcalling duties over to first-year head coach Raheem Morris.
The move comes two days after Tampa Bay's 38-7 loss to the undefeated New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium. The 38 points allowed by Tampa Bay was a team-high for the 1-9 Bucs this season.
Ironically, it was about two and a half months ago when Morris and general manager Mark Dominik fired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Greg Olson 10 days before the season started.
Bates, 63, has overseen a Bucs defense that has struggled mightily this season. Tampa Bay is surrendering 29 points and 378 yards per game. It currently ranks 27th overall in the NFL and dead last (32nd) against the run, allowing 168 yards per game.
Bates' defenses were successful in Miami and Green Bay. He had a top 10-ranked defense in each of his five seasons with Miami. However, Bates' one-year tenure with the Denver Broncos went down a similar path to the one he's having in Tampa Bay. In Denver, Bates was stripped of his playcalling duties and demoted after Denver's defense struggled out of the gate. At the end of the 2007 season, Bates resigned.
The standards are much higher for defense in Tampa Bay after watching former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin help the Bucs rank in the top 10 in total defense in 11 of his 13 seasons with the team before leaving in January to take a job with the Tennessee Volunteers.
Morris, 33, is the league's youngest head coach. Before he succeeded Jon Gruden in that capacity in January, Morris was named Kiffin's successor one month prior. He has never handled defensive playcalling duties in an NFL game before, but did serve as Kansas State's defensive coordinator during the 2006 season before accepting an offer to re-join Tampa Bay as a defensive backs coach in 2007.
Morris has been more involved in the defense in recent weeks. Bates implemented 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 Cover 2 as the season has progressed after watching the secondary get beat on several deep passing plays earlier in the year.
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