Bucs Central

Monday Coach Quotes: Raheem Morris

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, Raheem Morris spoke with the media a day after the season had finally came to an end. The team finished it with a 3-13 record. While Morris’ future still hangs in the balance, he talked about the teams biggest priorities starting with Josh Freeman – building around him and the draft. He also talked about finding an identity and even touched on wanting to pound the football next year.

(Opening statement)

“Obviously, today you would like to be talking about the post season. You would like to be talking about where your team is going and playing but we’re not, an obvious disappointment there. But, I am very proud of their effort all season and the effort they have shown throughout the trials and tribulations of this season.”

(On both him and Freeman being judged)
“I’m just talking about football in general. You are judged. Josh will be judged. This year with Josh the things you have to say positive about him is that he has the best completion percentage amongst rookies this year. That’s a positive for him and he knows that he can get better, we know he can get better and we look forward to him getting better. We are fired up about that. You will be judged on your progress. Next year is definitely his time to show progress. It is definitely all of our time to show progress.”

(On if he had meetings with the coaching staff)
“This is the time of year that you do that. Within this next month you will go back, get a little time away, come back and evaluate everything you do. Everyone will be evaluated, myself, all my coaches, all of our players, everybody. We will evaluate the tape this next month. This is the process that we are at now, we will just go back and evaluate.”

(On his biggest priority this offseason)
“As far as priorities for me, number five (Josh Freeman). He is the number one priority. It starts with him. Then after that the draft and building around him, our team and what we are going to be. You have to say that number five is the biggest priority, making sure everything works around him because when it works around him, we were able to be successful at the end of the season there. The next biggest priority has to be the draft. We have 10 big time draft picks coming up. I have to get the exact number but I know we have three really high ones. You never know what you can do in the draft. Maybe we’ll find another Sammie Stroughter. That has to be a priority there.”

(On if the draft is going to define the team)
“I think that’s with everybody, not just speaking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I think with everybody you have to build from the draft. There is no secret that’s what we are trying to do, that’s what we have been trying to do, build from the draft. Last year it was started and here you have to continue on that path of building through the draft. The draft has to be a high priority. It always has been. We drafted Mike Alstott. We drafted Warren Sapp. We drafted Warrick Dunn. We drafted Ronde Barber, all those big time impact players were all drafted here. They were all drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were all drafted to play in this system, to play with us and to play for us. That’s what we have to do, build through the draft. That’s the way you build teams.”

(On draft needs)
“That’s a part of this next month as well. You go back and you evaluate. You have to fill in the holes where you need. You plug them in, then you go evaluate the other tape. You see what’s the best fit and see where you fall, see how they come to you. All of those things have to be taken in account for. That’s what I have this next month for. I don’t have to make that decision now. I can look at the tape and study it.”

(On fans being confident in the Buccaneers staff to draft the right player)
“Because they have seen Josh Freeman just go out there and win a couple of games. They’ve seen Sammie Stroughter, a seventh-round pick go out there and be productive. They have also seen the similar people have other successful draft members involved. You are going to make some mistakes when you draft. There are no secrets about that. I don’t know anybody that has been perfect in the draft. Usually you are defined by one huge trade that you’ve made or one big time quarterback that has changed your whole life as a GM or as a scout. That’s how that usually works. You can go back and pick out every draft bust or every draft guy that you feel didn’t work out for you and pick on those things. We choose to pick the positive lights and the defining of the Sammie Stroughter’s and Kyle Moore’s of the world, the Roy Miller’s who have come in and been productive. Finding Josh Freeman with the 17th pick and him coming in here and leading all rookies in accuracy. Some of those things we choose to pick out and that’s how the fans can be confident about it. They have to. Similar guys drafted Cadillac and he went out there and rushed for rookie of the year stats. This year he came back and had one of his most productive years since then.”

(On Freeman)
“It’s about building around him, it’s about his offseason program. It’s about getting on the same page with number five and getting everything he can do well. Repping it and constantly getting better and better every day. Just everything.”

(On if he sat down with the Glazers)
“I haven’t sat down with them yet but I’m sure I will at some point this week, like we always do. We go through a halfway stage, comeback at the end of the season and I will meet with my ownership here shortly at some point this week.”

(On what he learned so far and how he can progress)
“I have a feeling that year two will be a lot less dramatic for me. This year there has been a lot of stuff going on. You are talking about blowing it up from the beginning, getting rid of some of the legendary players that we did, having to go through the changing of the guard at both offensive and defensive coordinators. Then having to go through that. Some of the players as well, adding guys, adding the draft picks, going through all of that stuff. This year we just have to keep building on that and keep progressing. We have to find our direction, which we have, keep going that way and keep getting better. It has been a lot of ups and a lot of downs. It has been a rough year on all of us. Hopefully next year it could be a lot smoother sailing and a lot better for all of us.”

(On if he met all of ownership’s criteria)
“No because I didn’t win them all. I was supposed to win all of the games after that so no. I didn’t meet all of the criteria. You have to say it has progressed, gotten better but you have to go back and be harder on yourself than that. You can’t just say that you met all of the criteria so that’s why you deserve another. You have to go out there and be better. You have to hope for the best for yourself.”

(On what he learned about the team)
“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 that when I turn on my tape of my team and I watch them play down the stretch, you see nothing but hard, tough play. You see those guys never quit. With the exception of two games that I am remembering, they were in almost every one. They played hard in almost everyone. Not just one individual player but for the most part, all of them. That’s the one thing that you have to be proud about when you look at your team. I don’t want to bring everybody up because I don’t look at everybody’s tape but I compare our toughness and how hard we play to just about everybody in the National Football League.”

(On the coordinator positions)
“That is what the whole next month is for. I said that the other day about myself, going in and looking at the last six games. Whatever it has been since I’ve started calling the defense, evaluating that, putting on the tape, looking at what you have, looking at the stats, looking at all of that type of stuff. Really taking a deep breath, stepping back and evaluating what you have done. Evaluate if it really worked and if it was successful, all of that type of stuff. Like we talked about earlier, it is the month, the process. This whole next month you do that.”

(On if he has it to remain the head coach)
“That’s the most dangerous words you have ever said right there, ‘I got it.’ You never have it, you just keep grinding through. I will never sit here and tell you that I have it. I won’t tell you that I’ve got it until I am holding up a Lombardi in my hands. That is the most dangerous words in coaching, you never have it. You have to go back and keep grinding, keep pounding, keep digging, keep scratching and clawing until you get it, but you never got it. You never got it.”

(On his successes)
“We were able to go out there and compete, play hard and be proud of this football team. I never walked out of any game this year and felt like we didn’t give it our all or give it our best. It wasn’t what I wanted or thinking they played soft or anything of that nature. These guys always competed, they always played hard. We had two teams that came in here and really got at us. They physically outmatched or played better that day, whatever the case might have been. For the most part throughout the season, these guys really played well and played hard.”

(On if he is critical about any of the players during the offseason)
“You hit it right there. It is about the offseason. It starts right now. You get a little bit of time off, coaches and the players as well. When you come back to the offseason, it starts right there. Their attendance, the people showing up, all of us being in the building and right back into the groove of things will be the tell-tale of what the message is here and how we have to be together as a team, a unit and be around number five. We have a chance; we have a chance with him. They know that too. We will get back in and get right back to work.”

(On players having his back)
“I don’t want them to go to management first of all. Please don’t do that fellas. If you are thinking about doing that, don’t. As far as that, I knew they have my back. When I look out there on Sunday and see them playing as hard as they are, you are talking about Geno Hayes playing hard, Quincy Black and Tanard Jackson throwing around his body at 125 pounds. Those guys go play hard. They play hard. To see what Jeremy Zuttah was able to do yesterday. He injured his arm pretty bad early that game and he finished that game. Second play of the game. To see him do that, I know he has my back. Those guys don’t blink, they remain unwavered. They are not soft. That’s how you know they have your back. It’s not really about what they say; it’s about what they do.”

(On his emotions)
“I care about these guys a little bit. I know you aren’t supposed to, but I care about these guys. You know what these guys do for you. This is a violent game that they play and it’s for men. They go out there and play like men. We have to get better and we have to improve. We have to get better in practice, at the game, postgame, everything. We have to have a better year next year. There is no doubt about it. I know what they put into it. I know what we need to develop on a lot of them. They know what they need to develop on a lot of them and they just have to come out and do it this offseason.”

(On Josh Freeman not getting the reps at the beginning of the season)
“That is one of those things that you talk about when you go back and want to second guess yourself. I had hoped that Freeman would get a chance to get in there and soak it all up and learn, go through the Phillip Rivers process. That was kind of the initial thoughts. That’s what we wanted to do. You have to give the kid credit there because he forced his will on us. We didn’t just wake up all of the sudden and say, let’s put Freeman in. He came to practice, worked really hard at it. When he was at practice he kept making you looking over there and say, ‘Wow. Let’s put him in.’ He forced his will on us a little bit. You have to give credit to him. You don’t look back and say, ‘What a mistake.’ Nothing like that. Maybe he was ready for some things that we weren’t ready to do yet. He went out there and showed us. It is a learning curve. It is a process.”

(On his mistakes)
“Where do I start? It’s easy to go back and have regrets on some of the decisions you made or things of that nature. That’s easy. We all can do that. You guys made some decisions for me the next day too. I don’t really have any regrets. You have to go evaluate yourself so you can be better the next time the situation comes up.”

(On what he would do differently)
“That’s tough. That’s tough to ask me right now because I have to go back and evaluate first. That’s what this month is for. You have to sit down and you have to look at everything. It’s easy for me to give you the emotional answer right now. ‘Man I wish I would have called the defense from the beginning.’ That’s what you’re looking for, I know it. I don’t know if that’s true. I think I’ve grown from that experience. I think I grew into it. I think I grew into making those decisions and then going out there and actually calling it and then finding a way, building through that, not being afraid to make those decisions. That’s probably one of the best things we’ve done around here is being able to make decisions no matter how tough they’ve been or how hard they’ve been. You have to make them. You have to stand up. You have to be responsible for them and I think we have the ability to be able to do that.”

(On overall talent level)
“When you’re talking about overall talent level, you’re talking about every year and everybody is trying to improve their talent level. There’s no secret to that. You have to go out and try to do that. These guys played hard. That’s where it starts. That has nothing to do with talent. That has nothing to do with anything else. But you have to go out and try to improve your talent every single year, so we’ll try to get better at each position like we always do. The overall talent, whatever, I can sit up here and give you my opinion and you guys can sit there and give us your opinion and it really doesn’t matter. You had who you had. You played who you wanted. You play your guys and you go out there and you let them play and help them. We’ll improve talent as we go.”

(On looking back to his goals)
“Not bad as far as identity. What I mean by that is when we go play football teams they look at our team and they see people fly around. They see Geno [Hayes]. They see Aqib Talib and Tanard Jackson lead us in picks. They see the physical play of a guy like Quincy Black. They see Cadillac [Williams] starting to run physical and run through arm tackles and break people down and see Earnest Graham catch the ball in the flat and lower his pads. You see the offensive line have two real successful weeks there running the football. Yesterday we kind of lost the battle upfront, but you see the progress. You see the physical, tough football team starting to develop. You see the brand of football that you’re 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 and those are the things you like to see and those are things you like to come around. Those are the things you like to talk about. Now do we still need to improve in those areas? There’s no doubt about it but I think it’s starting. I think it’s starting.”

(On next year and progress)
“Next year, it’s simple. You talk about progress, you’re talking about who are we, our identities and I think we found out in that two-week stretch when we went on a 2-0 winning streak. It was run the football, so to speak pound the rock, whatever you want to call it. It’s completions. It’s limited turnovers. Our defense is playing hard, playing fast, playing physical, being assignment detailed and not giving up touchdowns and forcing turnovers. So that’s all the progress you’ve seen and that’s kind of the formula that we’ve identified with ourselves and that’s what you have to take into next year and then the win-loss record will take care of itself.”

Courtesy of the Buccaneers Public Relations Department.

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