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January 4, 2010 @ 10:30 am
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Morris Holds Season-Ending Press Conference

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Raheem Morris held his season-ending press conference at One Buc Place Monday. Tampa Bay posted a 3-13 record in 2009, its worst since 1991. Morris said he has not met with ownership to discuss the season or his future. On Monday, he discussed what he and the Bucs plan to do moving forward.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris held the final press conference of the season at One Buccaneer Place Monday.

Morris, 33, is the youngest head coach in the National Football League. His team posted a 3-13 record in his first year on the job, which was the franchise's worst since 1991.

Richard Williamson was the coach of the 1991 Bucs team, and he was fired following that season. However, Morris' future still is uncertain since the Glazers have not commented publicly.

Morris hasn't met with ownership yet, but is expected to sometime this week. Last year, Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen held season-ending press conferences just to be fired two weeks after the 2009 season ended.

NFL.com reported a few weeks ago that Bucs ownership had reached out to former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher about the possibility of coaching the team in 2010. A report from ESPN surfaced Monday that suggested Cowher was leaning towards remaining retired and an analyst for CBS in 2010.

Bucs general manager Mark Dominik, whose future is also uncertain, is expected to hold a season-ending press conference later this week.

PewterReport.com provides below a full transcript of the Q&A session with Morris from Monday's press conference.

Morris' opening statement:
"Obviously today you would like to be talking about the post-season. You'd like to be talking about where your team is going and who you're playing, but we're not, so there's disappointment there. I'm very proud of their effort and the effort they've shown throughout all the trials and tribulations of this season."

On saying before that he and quarterback Josh Freeman would be judged on next year, and if that means he's coming back to Tampa Bay next year:

"You're reading into it. I'm just talking about football in general. One of the positives regarding Josh from this year is he had the best completion percentage amongst rookies. That's a positive for him. He knows he can get better. We know he can get better. We look forward to him getting better. You'll be judged on your progress. Next year is his next time to show progress, and it will be about all of us showing progress. That's all I was saying there."

When asked if he's made any changes to his coaching staff at this point or anticipates making any coaching changes soon:
"This is the time of year we'll address that. First of all you take a little time to get away. Then we'll come back together and evaluate what we did. Everyone will be evaluated, including myself, all my coaches, all my players; everybody. We're going to evaluate all of that."

On if any coaches have informed Morris on their future plans:
"No, I just read what [the media] writes. Nobody has told me they're going anywhere or anything like that. I guess I would answer that with a flat out no."

When asked if he'd refuse to let another coach still under contract with the Bucs to seek employment elsewhere in the NFL:
"That's different for everybody. It all depends on how valuable you are. If you're valuable I might want to keep you. That's all based on value, opportunity and each individual person."

When asked what the biggest priority for the Bucs was heading into the offseason:
"As far as priorities for me, there's number five [Josh Freeman]. He's the No. 1 priority. After that it's the draft, building around him and building our team and determining what we're going to be. You have to say No. 5 is the biggest priority and making sure everything around him is working, because when it's working around him we're able to be successful. The next biggest priority has to be the draft. We have 10 picks, and [five of our 2010 draft picks are in the top 99]. We might be able to find some more Sammie Stroughters as well. That's got to be a priority."

On if the 2010 NFL Draft would define the Bucs in terms of what type of team they were moving forward:
"That's with everybody, not just the Buccaneers. You have to build through the draft. It's no secret that is what you have to do. That's what we've been trying to do. Last year it started, and it's going to continue down that path. The draft always has been a high priority, and it will be no different here. We drafted Mike Alstott, we drafted Warren Sapp, we drafted Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber and all those big-impact players here to help build the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The way to build teams is through the draft."

When asked if he could say right now what the Bucs needed in the 2010 NFL Draft:
"That's part of this next month as well. We'll go back and evaluate the tape. You have to fill in the holes where you need, and then you evaluate the college tape and determine what the best fits are. All of those things will be accounted for here. That's what we have this next month for. I don't have to make that decision right now. I can look at the tape and study it."

When asked how fans could have confidence in the Bucs staff making the best use of their 10 draft picks in 2010 given how second-round pick Dexter Jackson, first-round pick Gaines Adams, among other draft picks, haven't panned out in Tampa Bay:
"They've seen Josh Freeman go out there and win some games, they've seen Sammie Stroughter, a seventh-round pick, go out there and be productive, they've seen the scouting staff, or at least very similar people that have been here through the years, have success in drafts. You're going to make mistakes in drafts. I don't know anybody that's been perfect in the draft. Usually you're defined by one big trade you made or defined by one big quarterback that changed your life as a G.M., head coach or scouting department. That's how that usually works. You can go back and point out every draft bust or player that didn't work out for you, but we choose to focus on the positives, like finding Sammie Stroughter in the seventh round, or the Kyle Moores and Roy Millers of the world that have come in here and been productive. Josh Freeman was the 17th overall pick and he came in here and led all rookies in accuracy. That's what we choose to focus on, and that's how the fans should look at it. They should be confident. We drafted Cadillac Williams and he went out and set rookie records, and this year he came back and had one of his most productive years since then."

On if the offseason program was a priority or the people that needed to be placed around Josh Freeman was a priority:
"Both. It's about building around Freeman. It's about the offseason program and getting him on the same page with number five, repping and getting better each and every day."

When asked if he had sat down with the Glazers yet to map out the priorities for the team:
"I haven't sat down with them yet, but I'm sure I will at some point this week. We go through that at the halfway stage and come in at the end of the season. I'll meet with my ownership shortly, likely sometime this week."

On what he’s learned from his first year as a head coach that he will carry into his second year:
“I’ve got a feeling that year two will be a lot less dramatic for me. There was a lot of stuff that went on this year when you talk about getting rid of some of the legendary players that we did at the beginning. Then having to go through the changing of the guard at both offensive and defensive coordinators and some of the players as well. Then adding the guys, adding the draft picks. This year, we have to keep building on that and keep progressing. Finding the direction, which we have, and keep getting better. There have been a lot of ups and a lot of downs. It’s been a rough year for all of us. Hopefully next year there will be a lot more smooth sailing and a lot better for all of us.”

Discussing what was said with his meeting with the Glazers at the midway point of the season:
“It’s all about progress with our guys. It’s all about what we are doing. It’s about wanting to get a franchise quarterback. We did. It’s about wanting to keep progressing down the stretch and wanting to get better. We did. It’s about wanting to find a way to get some wins. We did. We wanted to find a way to get our young quarterback in there. We did. It’s just all those type of things. It’s just mapping our season through and getting a chance to sit back. Our bye week fell perfectly this year, right in the middle of the season so we were able to go back and look at tape and be able to change the little things so you are able to get two wins at the end of the second half.”

Did he meet all the criteria from that meeting then?
“No, because I was supposed to win them all. You have to say it’s progressed. It’s gotten better, but you have to be harder on yourself than that. You can’t say that you’ve met all the criteria. You have to go out there and be better. You have to hope for the best for yourself.”

On what he learned about his team this year:
“It’s a tough team. I know it was rough on a lot of us. I know it was a tough year. I know it wasn’t what you wanted it to be, but they are a tough team. I know when I turn my tape on my team and I watch them play down the stretch, I see nothing but hard, tough play. You see those guys never quit. Except for those two games that I keep remembering (against the New York Giants and the New York Jets), they were in almost every one, the fought in almost every one, they played hard in almost every one – and not just one individual player, but for the most part all of them. That’s the one thing that you have to be proud of when you look at your tape. I don’t want to bring anybody up because I don’t look at everybody’s tape, but I compare our toughness and I compare how hard we play with just about anybody in the National Football League.”

Discussing any possible changes to the coaching staff or the organization:
“That’s what this whole month is for. We talked about it the other day with myself, and looking at the last six games since I started calling the defense and evaluating that. Putting on the tape and looking at what you’ve got. It’s taking a deep breath, sitting back and evaluating what you really did. Did it work? Was it successful? This month, this process – this whole next month we’ll do that.”

On why he should return next year, and what does he offer the team in terms of “I got it now?”
“Those are the most dangerous words – ‘I got it.’ You’ve never got it. You keep grinding. You never say that until you’ve got it. The only time I would say that is when I hold up a Lombardi in my hands. Those are the most dangerous words. You’ve never got it. You have to keep grinding. You have to keep pounding the rock. You have to keep digging. You have to keep scratching and clawing until you get it. But you’ve never got it.”

On what his personal successes were this year as a head coach:
“We were able to go out and compete and play hard. I’m proud of this football team. I never walked out of any game this year and felt like we didn’t give it our all and we didn’t give our best. It wasn’t what I wanted or it wasn’t that these guys played soft. It wasn’t anything of that nature. They always competed and they always played hard. There were two teams that came in here and I felt really got after us. They physically out-matched us or they were better that day or whatever the case may have been. For the most part throughout the season, these guys played well and played hard.”

What will the offseason objectives be?
“It starts with the offseason. It starts right now. You get a little time off. Then after that you come back for the offseason and it starts right there. Their attendance, all the guys being in the building and getting right back into the groove of things and how we have to be together as a team and as a unit. We have a chance. We have to go to work.”

On the emotions of being a head coach towards his players after one season.

"It is a little bit different. I care about these guys a little bit. I'm not supposed to I guess, but I care about these guys. You know what they do for you. This is a violent game that they play. It is for men, and they go out there and they play like men. We got to improve. We got to get better at practice. We got to get better at the game. We got to do better post-game, everything. There is no doubt about it. I know what they put into it. I know what we need to develop out of them. They know what they need to develop out of them. We just got to come out and do it this offseason."

Whether it was a mistake for Freeman not to get more reps early in the year with the quarterback competition between Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown.
"That is one of those things that you talk about and you want to go back and second-guess yourself. I had hope, like we talked about previously, that Freeman would get a chase to get in and soak it all up like a Philip Rivers process. That was kind of the initial thoughts. That's what we wanted to do. But again you got to give the credit there to the kid because he forced his will on us. We didn't just wake up overnight and say let's put Freeman in. The kid came in and practiced. He worked really hard at it. When he was at practice he made you look over there and go ‘wow let's put him in.' He forced his will on us a little bit. That's a credit to him. You don't look back and say it was a mistake or something like that. It is just maybe he was ready for some things that we weren't ready to do yet. He went out there and showed us."

On what were mistakes that Morris made in his first season as a head coach.
"You know it is easy to go back and have regrets on some of the decisions you made or things of that nature. That's easy. You guys can question decisions you made the next day too. I don't know if you have any regrets, but you got to evaluate yourself so you can do better the next time the situation presents itself."

What he would do differently a year from now than what he did this year.

"That's tough to answer that because I have to go back and evaluate first. That's what this month is for really. You got to sit down and look at everything. It is easy for me to give you an emotional answer right now. I think I've grown from the experience. I think I grew into it. I think grew into making decisions, and then going out there and calling it and finding a way, and building through that and not being afraid to make decisions. That's probably one of the best things we done around here. We weren't afraid to make decisions no matter how tough they've been. You got to make them. You got to stand up and be responsible for them."

On the overall talent level of the Buccaneers and how much it needs to be addressed.

"When you talk about overall talent you talk about every year and everybody is looking to improve their talent. There is no secret to that. You got to go out get better. These guys played hard. That's where it starts. That has nothing to do with talent and has nothing to do with anything else, but you have to go out and try and improve your talent every single year. We'll try and get better at each position like we always do. The overall talent, whatever, I can sit there and give you my opinion and you can give us your opinion and it really doesn't matter. You have who you have. You play who you want. You play your guys and you go out there and develop play. We'll improve talent as we go."

Looking back did he establish the identity of the type of team that he wants.

"Not bad as far as identity. What I mean by that is when we go play football teams they look at our tape and they see Geno [Hayes] flying around. They see Aqib Talib and Tanard Jackson leading us in picks. They see the physical play of a guy like Quincy Black. They see Cadillac [Williams] starting to run and running physical. Running through arm tackles and break people down. They see Earnest Graham catch a pass in the flat and lower his pad level. They see the o-line have two successful weeks in running the football. Yesterday we kind of lost the battle up front, but you see progress as far as all that stuff. You see a physical football team starting to develop. You see the brand of football that you are starting to like as a coach. You see it starting to become who you want to be, and who they want to be, and who you are. Those are the things you want to see, and those are the things you like to talk about. Now do we still have to improve in those areas? There is no doubt about it, but I think it is starting. I think it is starting."

On the progress made this season and what will next year be about.
"Next year it is simple when you talk about progress you talk about who are we and our identities. I think we found out in that two-week stretch when we went 2-0. It was run the football, or pound the ball whatever you want to call it. It is completions. It is limiting turnovers. On defense it is playing hard, playing fast, playing physical, being assignment detailed and not giving up touchdowns and forcing turnovers. That is all the progress you've seen, and that is kind of the formula that we identify with ourselves. That is what we have to take into next year and the won loss record will take care of itself."

On how physical the Bucs were to conclude the season against Atlanta.
"That last drive, well at half time we held them to 38 yards, and then they kind of wore us down. I think yesterday we had too many plays on defense. [Jason Snelling] started to get going in the fourth quarter. He was able to run through us and make some big-time people miss, and get really physical. That is a credit to them. We lost the battle up front in the fourth quarter, but prior to that you saw a physical team knife them down, knock them down, get them on the ground, hit them hard, knock them back. At halftime they had 30 some yards rushing. Then I think he was really able to get us. That was a credit to Atlanta, being able to wear us down with so many plays. I think we had 70 or 80 snaps. That's not our brand of football. We've got to play 50 to 60 to be great. If you had stopped us at 50 or 60 we would have had a pretty good brand of football on tape. Yesterday he wore us down. When you talk about playing those kind of backs, the Carolinas, the Giants, those are the guys you got to work for. Atlanta too ranked in the top of the league last year in rushing. With Snelling, no disrespect to that guy, with Michael Turner, and with [Jerious] Norwood. They've been a three-man head here for a couple of years now. They came out and got us in the fourth quarter."

On if he wants the team to be a running offense with a fast one-gap scheme defense.
"That's when we had our most success, and that is what you want to formulate around. That's what you want your identity to be. It is starting to come out. They are starting to buy in. They are starting to go out there and do it. That's what you want to do."

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