On Monday night's edition of Buccaneers Total Access heard on 620 WDAE, Bucs head coach Raheem Morris revealed that the team will continue to play in the Tampa 2 defense not only for the remainder of the season, but in the future. The scheme that will be played under Morris is a hybrid version of the Tampa 2, in which Morris has added some of his own wrinkles, such as more aggressive blitzing. Morris ran this defense effectively before at the college level when he was the defensive coordinator for Kansas State University and hopes it will have the same success with the Bucs defense.
"We want to try to build on what we did [on Sunday] as far as defense," Morris said. "We went out there and played some Tampa 2, a little bit of quarters, and a little bit of everything. We were able to get after the quarterback, and that's what we want to do. We want to build on what we did [against the Falcons]. We want to draft players that fit what we did [on Sunday] and give us the ability to play as fast as we played. That's where we're trying to go."
The first-year head coach and newly named defensive coordinator said that as soon as the season is over, the coaching staff will turn their attention to April's draft, where they can find the players they need to build upon his scheme.
"It really is about [defensive philosophy in the offseason and what you go to get in March and April]," said Morris. "It's about the draft. We've got guys working on all of that stuff right now. We've got our scouting department heavy in the game looking at all the colleges. They'll have reports ready for us to go as soon as we get done with our season, and we'll be able to get right involved in recruiting new members for our football team."
During Morris' first game calling the plays on defense, the Bucs arguably played their best game of the season, allowing a total of 297 yards on the day, including only 75 rushing yards in a 20-17 loss against the Atlanta Falcons.
"The guys [on defense] fought on [Sunday]," said Morris. "They gave up a couple of plays you want to get back, but going down, holding these guys, getting after the [quarterback] like they did, and putting us in a position to win on third down, that was a great job by those guys."
As a defensive coordinator, Morris is responsible for making the play calls and getting them into Bucs middle linebacker Barrett Ruud to relay to the rest of the defense. Morris talked about Barrett Ruud's solid play against the Falcons and even credits his play for some of the sacks that the defense recorded on Sunday.
"The best part about [the game] was Barrett Ruud," said Morris. "Ruud came alive yesterday, being himself and playing like he's capable of. [Ruud] lead our team in tackles with eleven, had the tackles for a loss, had a forced fumble, and that's Barrett Ruud-type football. He is the quarterback of our defense, absolutely standing up, making all the checks, making all the calls, and getting everybody lined up the right way. He was able to account for some of those sacks, even though he didn't get them all, just by lining us up and getting to the right area."
There has been some speculation that Ruud may not be back with the team next year due to being in the final year of his rookie contract. If there is not an extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Ruud would then become a restricted free agent. The fifth-year linebacker held out of OTAs in the offseason, and is looking for a new contract.
Ruud leads the team in tackles with 142 on the season, has one interception for 23 yards, and also is credited with a forced fumble. Morris said that the team plans to draft players that fit in the Tampa 2 scheme, so if a contract extension is reached with Ruud, a need may be eliminated for the middle linebacker position in the draft because of the abilities that he has shown playing in this defense. Morris had nothing but praise for Ruud on his Monday night show, and every indication points to the team wanting him back next year and in the future as a leader of this defense.
"It's always fun to talk to Barrett [when calling plays during the game] because Barrett's a miracle worker and he can do just about anything you want him to do on the football field," said Morris. "You're talking about changing the play, the alignment, a coverage, a front, or whatever you want to do and he's capable of doing it. I love working with him."