From an upcoming interview for the January edition of the Pewter Report Conversation, Bucs CB Ronde Barber revealed that he is prepared to retire if head coach Raheem Morris does not return in 2010. There has been speculation that Morris may be fired after the Bucs' three-win season in favor of Bill Cowher.
In a forthcoming Pewter Report Conversation for the January digital issue of Pewter Report, Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber indicated that he plans to retire if Raheem Morris does not return as Tampa Bay’s head coach in 2010. There has been some speculation that the Bucs might replace the 33-year old Morris, who has gone 3-12 in his first year as head coach, with former Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher.
When asked if whether Morris’ return will influence his decision to come back for a 13th season with the Buccaneers or retire, Barber said it would.
“Absolutely it will,” Barber said. “I can’t say which way it will, either, but I think you can assume which way (planning on retiring). I have one year remaining on my contract. [Former general manager] Bruce Allen made it very easy for me to stay here for as long as I wanted when he signed me to my contract. It was fair on both ends. It paid me the right amount when I was still in my early 30's to make it worth it for me. I have another year on my contract, which I plan on playing. Obviously, certain things will determine whether or not I will play that year. I’m still enjoying it and feel like I can do it. There are still some roles that I can play on this team. My coaches now have accepted that if I want to play football next year that I will be here.”
With some degree of uncertainty surrounding Morris’ return in 2010, there is a chance that Sunday may be Barber’s last game as a Buccaneer.
“Yes, there’s always a chance," Barber said. "There’s been a chance since 2005, really. I’m a re-evaluator every year at this point in my career. You have to be, really. If it’s still the right situation for me, I’ll be here. If not, I won’t.
“I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy. I envision that whenever I retire, there won’t be any hoopla. It will be like, ‘That’s it.’”
Barber has been coached by Morris since 2002 when he was a quality control coach working with former defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin, and is very close to his head coach. He thinks that the team has shown a good deal of improvement as the season went on and that Morris deserves to stay as Tampa Bay’s head coach in 2010.
“He’s done well,” Barber said of Morris. “He’s had a perfect storm of madness he’s had to deal with. Some of it was self-inflicted because he let go two coordinators. He decided on the three quarterback changes, too. But to me, they were all the right moves. When you are young and inexperienced and you have to deal with certain situations, you have to go with your gut. He’s a gut-feel guy. He’s not going to ever change. I think the players in this locker room respect that. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and he tells you exactly what he’s thinking. His honesty is refreshing. Not that Jon [Gruden] and Tony [Dungy] weren’t honest, but Raheem is very team-forward. He is not going to let any secrets destroy this team. Especially in the offseason when he first took over, you just got the feeling that he was going to be a part of something that would rise up as we rebuild this team. Unfortunately, the wins haven’t shown up, but as far as the team goes, I can’t imagine a team sticking together through as much adversity as we’ve been through, but we have. We’re together and it’s because of him.”
The 34-year old Barber believes he adapted well to Jim Bates’ man coverage schemes and has had a better season in 2009 than he had last year when he had four interceptions.
“I think I’ve played real well outside of a couple plays,” Barber said. “Last year, there were a lot of plays (I gave up). This is as solid of a year as I’ve had in a while. The interception ops haven’t been there. I think I’ve had a chance at only two or three that slipped through. The one at Green Bay where I came off my guy to make a play, and two or three on jump balls down the field. I just haven’t had the ops this year.”
Should Sunday be Barber’s last game in Tampa Bay there is one thing he definitely wants to accomplish, which is getting an interception. Barber, who is the franchise’s all-time leading interceptor (37) and the first cornerback in NFL history to have at least 25 sacks and 25 interceptions, has not recorded an interception this season mostly because his coverage has been so solid that he has not had as many opportunities as he has in years past. In fact, should Barber fail at picking off Matt Ryan when the Falcons come to town on Sunday, it would mark the first season since his rookie year in 1997 that he has not recorded an interception.
“Yeah, and I only played in half a game during my rookie season,” Barber said. “[Former Bucs defensive backs coach] Mike [Tomlin] always told me that I had a quota to fill. Interceptions don’t drive me. Wins drive me. Losing games has been a heck of a lot more frustrating than not getting a pick. Somewhere in the back of my head I’ll judge myself and say that if I had created a few more turnovers that we would have won more games. It goes hand-in-hand as far as I’m concerned.”
A win on Sunday against Atlanta could increase the likelihood that both Morris and Barber return as Buccaneers in 2010.The Pewter Report Conversation with Ronde Barber will be published on January 20, 2010 in the January digital issue of Pewter Report.
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