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The 2009 regular season isn't even halfway over and there is already a growing number of Buccaneers fans calling for change at One Buccaneer Place.
There are no sacred cows inside the Bucs organization. The criticism has been aimed as high up as ownership, which fired head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen after two consecutive 9-7 seasons, and currently is responsible for having the Bucs $30-plus million under the salary cap; more than any other team in the NFL.
Tampa Bay's scouting department has fallen under heavy criticism for poor drafting during the Gruden-Allen years. During that five-year period, the Bucs have drafted just one Pro Bowler, guard Davin Joseph, who made the trip to Hawaii as an alternate last year.
The Bucs scouts deserve credit for discovering return specialist Clifton Smith, who made the Pro Bowl as an undrafted free agent last year, but overshadowing his success has been failed picks like wide receiver Michael Clayton (first round), defensive end Gaines Adams (first round) and wide receiver Dexter Jackson (second round), to name a few. In fact, Joseph has been the only Bucs draft pick to make a Pro Bowl since cornerback Ronde Barber, who was selected in the 1997 NFL Draft.
But the heaviest criticism imposed by Bucs fans has been directed at Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik, who are the youngest head coach and second-youngest general manager in the NFL, respectively. The Glazers opted to promote Morris, who had never served as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, and Dominik, who had been a key member of Tampa Bay's front office since 1995, back in January once Gruden and Allen were fired.
Some were surprised by the move, especially since Gruden and Allen still had three years remaining on their contracts, and their dismissals came two weeks after Tampa Bay's 2008 regular season ended. But perhaps the Glazers deserved the benefit of the doubt since their chaotic search for Tony Dungy's replacement in 2002 led to Gruden, who helped the Bucs win Super Bowl XXXVII that same season.
But a cloud of doubt hangs over One Buc Place after Tampa Bay's 0-7 start under Morris and Dominik. In addition to having lost 11 straight games dating back to 2008, the Bucs are off to their worst start since 1985. The Bucs lost their first nine games that season, which ended with a 2-14 record.
Tampa Bay has nine games remaining, but of those opponents, only three (Carolina, Miami and Seattle) have losing records. That, along with the fact that the Bucs have been outscored 203-96 through seven games, has some seriously pondering the likelihood of the Bucs going winless, just as the Detroit Lions (0-16) and Tampa Bay (0-14) did in 2008 and 1976, respectively.
If the Bucs were to go 0-16, Morris would automatically be fired, right? Not necessarily. While the Lions fired Rod Marinelli for accomplishing that dreadful feat last year, the Bucs retained head coach John McKay after his team went 0-14 and started 0-26 from 1976-77.
Of course, McKay was coaching an expansion team, and by the looks of it, one could make the argument that the 2009 Bucs closely resemble one through seven games.
So if Marinelli was fired and McKay stayed after their winless seasons, what is the magic number for Morris in terms of wins he would need to return in 2010?
Well, since Tampa Bay's inaugural season in 1976, there have been 63 head coaches that produced three wins or less in a season. Of that number, 40 (63.4 percent) were fired during that same season or immediately after it.
Three of Tampa Bay's nine remaining opponents have losing records, so that might be a good number to go with in terms of taking an in-depth look at history to determine what Morris' chances of returning are in 2010.
Twenty-eight head coaches have produced 3-13 seasons since '76. Of that amount, 18 (64.4 percent) were fired. One of those was former Bucs head coach Richard Williamson, who did not survive a 3-13 season in 1991.
Believe it or not, history suggests Morris' chances of remaining Tampa Bay's head coach are about the same if the Bucs go 2-14 as opposed to 3-13. Since '76, there have been 26 different head coaches that produced 2-14 records. Seventeen (65.3 percent) were fired. That includes former St. Louis head coach Scott Linehan, who fortunately survived a 3-13 season in 2007, but was fired in the midst of a 2-14 outing one year later.
The record Morris is unlikely to survive is 1-15. Five head coaches have posted 1-15 records in the NFL since '76, and all but one (80 percent) was fired as a result.
While some fans are convinced Morris is not the right man for the job in Tampa Bay, the Glazers might have a more difficult time determining the answer to that question as they look ahead to 2010.
That's because some of the league's best head coaches have fielded teams that posted woeful records in the NFL before.
For example, Bill Parcells' New York Giants had a three-win season in 1983. Not only did he live to see another season in New York, Parcells wound up leading the Giants to two Super Bowls in addition to helping New England get there after his tenure with the Giants ended.
Not many head coaches survive 2-14 seasons. That includes former Bucs head coach John McKay, who was lucky enough to return after a 0-26 start, but wasn't so lucky after the Bucs finished 6-10 in '84, which proved to be his final year with Tampa Bay.
Another former Bucs head coach, Leeman Bennett, survived 2-14 after the 1985 season, but another 2-14 outing in '86 led to his dismissal.
But going 2-14 doesn't necessarily mean you're a bad head coach. After all, legendary head coach Bill Walsh thrived after posting a 2-14 season in his debut with the San Francisco 49ers.
Walsh coached the 49ers to a 2-14 record in 1979. Ownership didn't fire him, and their gamble and patience paid off as Walsh led the 49ers to three Super Bowls and was later inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Even a 1-15 record won't automatically lead to Morris' dismissal in Tampa Bay. Just imagine if the Dallas Cowboys had fired Jimmy Johnson after the team's 1-15 season in 1989? The Cowboys went on to win two Super Bowls under Johnson, who is the only head coach to have survived a 1-15 record in the NFL since 1976.
The Bucs hired Morris with the understanding that he would be the league's youngest head coach. Ownership also understands that the team is in a rebuilding year and in the process of determining which young players have long-term potential in 2010 and beyond. While Morris and Dominik have made their fair share of mistakes, the Bucs simply don't have a lot of talent to work with.
The Glazers will have to make a decision on Morris' future at the conclusion of the 2009 season, which has not gone well at all thus far. That decision appears to be a no-brainer for some, meaning they want Morris fired. In addition to already having to pay Gruden and Allen for the remainder of their respective contracts, NFL history shows us that the decision on Morris' future in Tampa Bay could be more difficult than some might think right now.
Longest Current Losing Streaks In NFL
The 0-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost 11 straight games dating back to the 2008 regular season. The Bucs are just 1-14 during that stretch if you count the team's 2009 preseason (1-3).
As promised, Pewter Report will keep this chart going as long as the Bucs remain winless in 2009. Tampa Bay currently ranks second in the NFL for the longest losing streak in regular season play behind only the St. Louis Rams, who play the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Tampa Bay's longest losing streak in franchise history came from 1976-77 when the Bucs started 0-26.
St. Louis – 17
Tampa Bay – 11