After announcing the firing of Raheem Morris and his coaching staff following a disappointing 4-12 season, Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer and general manager Mark Dominik met with the media to discuss what led to Morris' dismissal as well as the coaching search, which according to Glazer, will start immediately.
Below is a transcript of Glazer and Dominik’s comments.
“Good afternoon, everybody. This morning, as you know, we visited with Coach (Raheem) Morris and informed him of our decision. First of all, we thanked him for all his hard work and years with the Buccaneers. It was an emotional meeting. Raheem has been with us for nearly a decade. As you all know he is a class act. [He] worked hard and gave his life for the Buccaneers, but at the end of the day we felt we had to do what we think is in the best interest of this organization and that’s what we decided to do. In these situations it is not just one person. Everyone has to take some responsibility for the results of the season. Whether it is the owners, general manager, players – the entire organization. You cannot hide from your part in the situation. We will begin the coaching search immediately and with that I will open up the questions.”
What led to decision and when?
“It was something you looked at as the season was closing and can't point out one specific day or moment, but it was the progress of the team. I think that was a big thing about the decision.”
Did any off-field issues have any affect on the decision?
“In these things it is not just one thing, but I will point to just the progress of the team and where we’re at. Again, you can’t point to one thing or another. You look at totality of the situation when making your decision.”
Will there be anything ownership will do differently or will the G.M. do anything differently?
“After a season like this you obviously have to take a step back and look at everything. You can’t be stubborn and not make some changes and reflect on what led us to this. So that’s what we will do. We are going to take some time. We will all meet. Mark will do a thorough review of the situation and then see where we do have to make changes. We are open to all changes or anything and the goal is to put a winner on the field. That will be the number one goal as always.”
Do you have a timetable to get this done?
“There is not going to be a timetable. It is going to be a thorough wide search. We want to find the right person for this job and if that takes a week or three weeks or whatever it is that’s what it will be. It’s just we want to find the right person.”
What was behind the decision to keep Dominik?
“Like I said everyone has to bear some responsibility in that. We have talked, but we just felt with where this franchise is at and where this team is at you know you can see negatives in everything, [but] at the same time you can see some positives in things. So we got to keep our perspective here and look at the whole situation. That’s what led to that.”
How much responsibility do you as owner take, and what can you tell fans about commitment financially to team?
“We will always do what it takes to win. And you know I have heard that a lot. Again, I will never hide from our responsibility in this because we are 4-12. Ultimately we are the owners and it starts with us.”
Again, explain more about what went into keeping Dominik while firing Morris.
“Well, you look at everything. Obviously, you look at the whole situation, but we had discussions, and at the end of the day, like I said, you've got to look at positives and negatives. You can’t always see negative in the whole situation. You've got to try to find some positives. So we felt like keeping that situation the way it was and have a good working relationship with Mark, as we did with Raheem, but this is what we felt was the decision.”
What quality will you look for in the next coach?
“Well, you know, we are going to keep an open mind. We are not going to pigeonholed in exactly what we are looking for here. We are going to interview a lot of different candidates and talk to a lot of different people. This is going to be an exhaustive search, but at the end of the day this is going to be the leader of our football team. The leader has to stand for something and every different person stands for different things and that’s when we have our final decision that will lead to what we were looking for.”
Is there characteristic or something particular you will look for?
“It is easy to say you want a leader with discipline and all these different things, but I am not going to characterize it one way or another. We want a person who we feel will represent this team well, represent the community well and get our players progressing like we would like to see them progress.”
Would you consider hiring a first-time coach again as you did in Morris?
“It's funny. You go back 12 months and we're all sitting here and we're tied with the Green Bay Packers, lose out on a tiebreaker and everyone's feeling good. So no, there's no regrets on what we did. Raheem worked tirelessly. A lot of great things Coach Morris brought to the table. After a 4-12 season, obviously, I'm going to start reflecting on the negative results, but I've got nothing but positive things to say about Coach Morris and what he contributed, and his attitude, and his class, right up until meeting with him today.”
Why were the Buccaneers not active in free agency?
“If you look back, you can say maybe we should have added some more veterans, maybe we should have done this. But then you can also look back and say we were 10-6, a young team that was going in the right direction – do you want to go too far in that direction? I think there's been a slight misconception in the past that we're just going to draft and we're not going to do anything else. And I think what we've always said is our firm belief is the foundation of successful teams are built through the draft. But you do have to supplement with other players, through free agency or whatever it is, at the right time and if it's the right person. I do think there's been a little too much play to that. Again, as we look back, were we too young this year? At 4-12 you can make that argument; at 10-6 you think things were headed in the right direction.”
Who's fault was it ultimately?
“There's always going to be: Is it the players? Is it the coaches? It's tough to know for certain, but you have to reflect on the season, you've got to make decisions; you've got to do what's best for the franchise and carry on. I feel brighter days are ahead. I feel confident we will get this ship headed in he right direction, and bring in a coach who this community can be proud of and the players can respond to and get this behind us.”
Talking about the losing and how it might affect the decision.
“We're going to work tirelessly to change it because we don't like losing. I can assure you no one likes losing less than us, and this season was not fun losing. I'm not going to put any artificial deadlines on this. We're going to talk to people until we find the right person, and when we find the right person and there's he right chemistry and the right belief in what that person stands for, that's when we'll make the decision.”
Will the search for a coach be with filling seats in mind?
“Ultimately, what you've got to do is what is in the best interests of winning because winning fills seats and ... we're in a situation, you're in Florida, there's a tough economic situation here, you have that. But ultimately you've got to win, so to try and make a splash, Day One that sells a few tickets Day One ... the objective is to have a fundamentally sound, long-term plan of winning. Winning is what sells and winning is what gets people excited and winning is what fills the stadium. And that's going to be the focus.”
Will you offer a commitment to fans to spend?
“We are going to spend whatever it takes to win; to put the best team in the field. But I think people have to realize, the majority of spending in [is on players you draft] and then you re-sign them. There has never been a player that has ever been drafted by the Tampa bay buccaneers that has left this organization because of money. If you are not drafting well over a long period of time, guys don’t get re-signed. Donald Penn – re-signed. Davin Joseph – re-signed to big money contracts. If you’re leading the way with free agents – and I think you’ve seen this over the years with teams – if that’s the way they lead the way, it hasn’t proven to be successful. We will be happy to spend in free agency, but we have got to build a team. We have to draft well and build a foundation for this team. But we’re open-minded; whatever we have to do to win. The new coach will have input of how we proceed here. If you look at the teams challenging for the Super Bowl this year, fundamentally, they were build through the draft and supplemented with free agency.”
Are the Buccaneers considering another game in London next season?
“We spoke to the league recently and informed them that we wouldn’t want to be participating in the foreseeable future. We were helping the league internationally, we believe greatly in that. But for the foreseeable future, that is something we told them we want to focus on building our base here.”
Is it based on what happened this year?
“No, the team had a good experience there. Unfortunately, it was a loss. That was more of a direction of the team and things we want to do here in Tampa.”
Mark Dominik's opening statement:
“Obviously, as Mr. Glazer just talked, we did come to a discussion today made a tough decision on a friend of mine in Coach Morris, letting him be relieved of his duties. It was not easy. Obviously, we all know this game is a great game to watch, a great game to play, a tough game to be in. I had to make some tough decisions today. I will say in talking to Coach Morris he handled it as profession as you all not be surprised by. He was classy. He shook my hand. He said thank you and he understood that we were going in a different direction.”
What do you feel caused the collapse?
“Since we’ve been eliminated from playoff contention, I've spent a lot of time dissecting this football team. I think there’s been a lot of talk about how I haven’t been available as much in terms of being around. It’s that we’ve been spending a lot of time in my office watching tape, looking at players, looking at what’s going on with this football team in terms of what’s going on the field, the production of the team and how it has leveled off or the progress wasn’t continuing and that was a big part of it. And so that’s the thing we’ve been studying upstairs, looking at individual players, groups and everything we’ve done from training aspects, strength and conditioning aspects, coaching aspects, front office aspects. Everything’s been looked at and re-evaluated to make sure we get this thing back on the right track.”
Can you put your finger on what went wrong?
“I think it is a conglomerate of a lot of different problems. That is usually what happens when you have those kinds of losing streaks, when you lose 10 in a row. You have more than just one issue that you can put your finger on. You have a lot of things that you have to work on.”
Was this roster NFL caliber? How much do you take responsibility for a possible lack of talent or losing streak?
“I think that’s a fair question and I do take responsibility of what happened on this football team as well. Obviously, as a general manager, my job is to help acquire talent, provide talent, draft players and get us to a competitive level. Obviously, we all felt like at 10-6, we all felt like the team was going in the right direction. Certainly doing the season, it’s difficult to acquire talent when you have injuries. A coach is never supposed to stand up here and talk about the injuries he has or else he looks soft and weak and he can’t handle it. We did have some injuries this year. It was difficult. But at the same point, I thought we had some good players here that are still developing. I still feel like we have some players that will continue to grow. I still have a lot of belief in what Josh Freeman can do going forward.”
Looking back, shouldn’t you have added some veteran leadership?
“We do have veteran leadership on this football team. We have an offensive line that’s very established in the National Football League in terms of years of service, second contract. Ronde Barber has been around a long time. He set a Buccaneer record yesterday for games played. But at the same point, you have to look at everything you have to look at the entire football team and say what could you do differently, what do you need to improve this football team, and if that comes from free agency, then it comes from free agency. But I do feel like we have players on this football team that are leaders that have been voted captains by their teammates.”
But they had no resume to back it up.
“I think there are some players on this football team. I think Ronde Barber has a heck of a resume in the National Football League. I also think Donald Penn has been to a Pro Bowl and Davin Joseph has been to two. So there are some players that do have a stronger resume. But I understand what your question is and that’s certainly something that we’re going to look to.”
But the other side of the football is the one that gives up 42 points a half?
“We have a lot of guys who are young up front. We do. We have a lot of defensive linemen that we’re counting on to continue to provide pass rush and attack the quarterback. It didn’t get to where we wanted it to be this year (because) of injuries, situational, but at the same point we have players on the back end of this football team and it’s certainly something that we’re looking in to. When [a media member] asked, what do you put your finger on, well there are multiple things that we had to put our finger on. And certainly we have to look at the character of this football team, on and off the field.”
How much did discipline, or lack of it, factor into the decision?
“From a player’s perspective, I think discipline is a very important part of what has to happen here in terms or becoming more productive, a better football team. It’s a big part of what you want to become in the National Football League, it’s your discipline in terms of your actions and not only on the field but how you live off the field. I think Hardy Nickerson said it best, talking about what leadership means and how you become a leader in this league. In terms of overall, with the direction of this football team, it is important. It’s something we’re going to continue to strive on in terms of making sure we get the right people in the building to help us win, to get this thing turned back around and in the right direction.”
Will there be any issues with you yielding control if the new coach demands it?
“I think the most important thing that we’re going to do here as an organization is hire the best football coach for this football team – regardless of what the responsibilities are, or are to become. At the end of the day, you have to have a working relationship with your head coach as a general manager. You have to. Regardless of who says what power is where, our goal is to find the best head football coach for this football team. It doesn’t matter what delegation of authority is for that head coach or for me. I just want to get Tampa Bay back to winning.”
What factors caused you not to go outside in free agency last year?
“I would say that it was a big pool of free agents last year, certainly it’s an even bigger pool this year. Some of the things that factored into our decision making was, No. 1, coming off a 10-6 season with a lot of young players that we wanted to continue to see develop. No. 2 was you had no chance to meet or greet them; no chance to put them in your locker room for six months or four months as you normally would in March. Therefore it’s not as good a timing as you could have in terms of free agency, in terms of bringing guys into this building because of the limited amount of time running right into training camp, no offseason program with a new player, just the continuity aspect of it. But a lot of it was we were 10-6 and we were coming off a good football season, we had a lot of young guys that we were playing very well and we banked on that.”
Were you surprised by how badly this team played down the stretch?
“I think it was a lot of different things. Certainly, it was disappointing for all of us. It was hard and frustrating for Coach Morris. He tried really hard and I have to commend Coach Morris a lot in terms of getting the troops rallied, getting everybody out on the football field ready to go, ready to play the next game, trying to get things corrected, but it wasn’t happening. That’s the consistency part that was so disappointing down the stretch here and that made this decision where we are today.”
Will the new coaches philosophy have a bearing on the hire? “
"I think we’re going to look at both. Certainly, we’re going to find out what that person’s philosophy is in terms of what he believes and how you build an organization. Certainly, we’re going to talk to him about our football team and what we have so far and what he perceives we have in terms of talent and ability and what needs to be done. That’s a collaborative effort that we all have to be comfortable with – myself, the new head coach, ownership. When we all get together and make the decision on the new head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we’ll all be on the same page making sure we get the right person up here to lead this team to where we want to go and win a championship.”