The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have demoted defensive coordinator Jim Bates. Head coach Raheem Morris will take over as the team's defensive coordinator.
Hours after the news broke regarding the significant change at One Buc Place, Tampa Bay's players reacted. Morris also fielded questions from media regarding the demotion of Bates, a move that comes two and a half months after offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski was fired.
Here is the Q&A transcript from Morris' press conference on Tuesday.
On the thought process of demoting Jim Bates and taking over as defensive coordinator:
"Everything we do around here is based on progress. Right now, we feel like we're in a position to make progress and move on. That's the thought process and that's what we're doing."
When asked about his comments last week that suggested his players weren't good fits for Bates' defensive scheme and today's move coming one week later:
"There was never a decision on scheme. There's nothing wrong with the scheme or the players. Obviously, every day you're trying to improve your 53-man roster. That's what you're talking about. The whole idea here is to progress and move on. There's no better time to do that than right now."
On how much of a change will take place in the transition from Bates' scheme to the one Morris will run:
"I'm not going to get into schemes because I don't want to let Atlanta know anything. It won't be much of a change. There will be a little more of a Raheem Morris influence. That's what I plan to do."
On whether this is more of a play-calling issue on game days or a scheme issue:
"It's a play-calling feel. We have some coverages we can use and some different things we can try and to. That's what we're going to do."
On Bates' role now that he's been demoted, noting he wasn't at Tuesday's practice:
"We're going to make sure that it works for both of us, first of all. We were able to talk this morning. He's definitely helping me right now. When you talk about Jim Bates, you're talking about one of the most respected guys in this league, one of the most respected minds in this league, and my friend. We've done a great job of sitting down and trying to hash it out. It's still in pending mode. He's helping me and I'm helping him."
On whether Bates will remain with the Bucs for the remainder of the season:
"It's still a wait-and-see deal. We're working together."
On who made the call to change coordinators on the defensive side of the ball:
"It's my call. It's my call and my job to make sure we progress. I'm doing everything I can to make that happen."
When explaining why he chose to demote Bates and take over as defensive coordinator:
"It's looking at the results. We're judged everyday on results. We all will be and we all are. We weren't getting the results. We have to go out and progress and try to get better these next six weeks."
On if he feels the defense can get better results with him as defensive coordinator or if he's trying to be accountable for the defense:
"It's always an accountability issue. The head coach is always responsible for whatever side of the ball isn't performing up to par or whatever is not going right around the building. That's my job. It's definitely an accountability issue and definitely something where I have to step up and get it done. There's no time to complain and there's no time for excuses."
When asked if he's going to play to the strengths of his personnel in the revamped scheme:
"I always want to go out and play to the strengths of what I have to work with. You also want to play to the strengths of what you think you can do against each team you play. You want to put together the best possible game plan."
On whether the personnel he has now is better suited for the Cover 2 system vs. Bates' system, noting that Chris Hovan said he will never be a two-gap player:
"I don't know if a lot of guys would say that. Chris Hovan has played a lot of years in this league, so I think that's fair for Chris to say. Right now, we're talking about the youth movement and we're talking about a bunch of young guys that don't know what they're capable of doing because they haven't played in this league long enough. Right now, those guys are playing and doing the best they can do. That's fair for Chris Hovan to say, but I don't know that would be fair for Quincy Black, Adam Hayward or some of the other guys to say."
On if the players went to him to ask for a change away from Bates:
"No, the players never quit on Jim Bates if that's the question you're asking. You can see that by their play on the field. This had nothing to do with core beliefs. The core beliefs that Jim Bates holds, that Monte Kiffin held, and I hold high regard to are all the same and all very similar. You can tell how hard they played for Jim Bates, how hard they played for us, how hard they played for themselves. There is no question. There is no doubt about that. There is no turncoat in this building. There is nobody coming to me complaining about what Jim Bates has to do, or wants to do. This is an issue of developing progress. You have to develop progress the next six weeks."
On his credibility and Dominik's credibility after replacing the two coordinators they hired in a short amount of time:
"That's a fair question, but each individual situation is completely different. That's not even a whole situation. Either situation you are talking about are separate deals and you have separate issues. You got to make your decision and stand by it. You have to do what you believe is right. This is what I believe is right."
On if the direction the team is heading in has altered:
"The direction is the same. The direction lies with the youth on the team. You talk about having three picks in the first two rounds. You talk about number five (Josh Freeman) being the quarterback for the next 10-15 years. We are going to play faster and better around him. That is the direction of this program that is the direction we are going in. We got to get there and we are on our way."
On the team getting better:
"We've just got to get better week to week. We've played hard. We've played fast. We played physical. We talk about those things. We just didn't get better every week. The big plays are still there. We haven't been able to stop the run. We got to get better at doing something, and that is what we have to set our focus on and that is something to get better at. That's what we are trying to do right now."
On how would this move make the team better.
"That is what I'm trying to figure out right now. That's why I put myself in charge of it, and why I put myself in front of everybody so I can do it."
On if the organization failed Bates in not getting him the players he needed to run his system.
"Jim Bates obviously if he had his druthers would probably have gone in another direction. But it wasn't a direction this team wanted to go. We wanted to go with a youth movement and we are there. When you are put in a job it is your responsibility to go out and do what you have to do, and go out do it to the best of your ability. That is all you can be asked to do. It is my job. I wanted to get [Albert] Haynesworth, and that didn't happen. I wanted to go out and get him as well. We didn't get those people. It didn't happen, so you have to win with the people you got. Right now we haven't, and it is directly there in the results. It is my time to go out there and try and to it my way."
On what Bates' role will be on game day.
"We are still working through all those issues, and I will update you a little more with that. Jim, like I said before, is one of the great minds of this game, one of the great minds I respect. One of the great minds I go to, to ask questions. I asked him a couple this morning. We had a long discussion this morning about the Atlanta Falcons. We are still working through what he can do and how he can help us on game day."
On his reaction to fans wondering what is going on with team.
"Yeah there is no question. It is my job to do what I think is best for this organization. That is my decision, and I have to go out there and do it. Being proactive in your decisions in your job I believe is the best thing you can do. To sit around and complain the more you talk about it, but to go out and actually do something about it is just being proactive in my opinion."
On if linebackers coach Joe Barry was considered for defensive coordinator because of all of Morris' duties as head coach:
"No. It is funny, you were hired to be a defensive coordinator a few weeks before you were hired to be head coach. You had some ideas and you had plans out there, and why throw Joe Barry out there to try and fix it the last six weeks when you feel like you can. I feel like it is my responsibility. I feel like I have to do it. I feel like it is what I'm supposed to do as a head coach, and as a man for this football team. I feel like it is what I owe this organization. What I owe this town. What I owe Mark Dominik. What I owe this ownership. It is my job to fix it, and that is what I have to go out there and do."
On why he thought it would work with Bates when he was hired:
"You know, we always dibbled and dabbled even under Monte Kiffin over the last six years. About six years, maybe five would be closer. We dibbled and dabbled with the system. The coverage matchups to some of the things that would help us get better. I know you guys have seen us dibble and dabble with quarters, with two-man, and some of those things. That's where we wanted to go. I tried to hire a guy that was a master at that stuff. I learned a lot of football from Jim Bates. There is no doubt about it. I learned a lot of football from Monte Kiffin. I thought it would be that super mega-morph that we could get together and get this thing going. And really get it rolling, and we probably still can. I'm just going to go do it, because it is my responsibility to do. I can, and will give it my best effort."
On if he had input on what Bates was doing as the defensive coordinator:
"Yes, you do, but you never put a man in a position to do a job and go in there and second-guess him on everything he does. You got to have a strong core belief of what he is doing and let him go do his job. Now it is my job to do it, and I'm willing to do it."