If you are looking for the reason why Ronde Barber survived the purge of aging veterans shortly after Raheem Morris was appointed head coach. He gave a very candid answer on the last day of the owners meetings in Dana Point, Calif.
“He’s staying because he touches the ball and he scores touchdowns,” Morris said on the final day of the NFL owners’ meetings. “I don’t know any corner in this league that scores more touchdowns than Ronde Barber. I’ve seen him do it in bump, Cover 2, I’ve seen him blitz and pressure the quarterback. He’s got some juice left. At the end of the season, the two guys leading the team in picks were Ronde and Aqib Talib – two ends of the spectrum. That’s why Ronde’s here.”
It would be hard to fault that line of thinking, but some still wondered why Barber was not axed with the likes of Derrick Brooks, Cato June, Joey Galloway & Ike Hilliard. While it might not be the answers some of the fanatics were looking for it sure does seem like it is an honest one.
Either way, the team felt like Barber can still contribute in the new scheme.
Morris who is a high energy guy doesn’t think it will be much different coaching an entire team then it was when he was the defensive backs coach.
“Call it naive, call it young, I don’t know, but this is how I’m looking at it: I had 15 (defensive backs) before. Now I’ve got 66 DBs sitting in front of me, and I’m going to approach it like that. All my DBs have always been competitive. They’ve always done what I’ve asked, I’ve always messed around with them in the locker room, I’ve always been demanding, and they’ve responded. You tell (a veteran such as cornerback) Ronde (Barber) the same thing you told him before, ‘I’m going to tolerate you until I can replace you.’”
Sure does seem like Morris has alot of the tough love coach in him, as this is the second time he has publicly stated he will tolerate a player until he can replace them. Which by reading between the lines, if a player in not producing or is a cancer in the locker room he should feel worried about his job security. With Morris taking a hard line with players and letting it be known up front that he expects hards nosed gritty football players one has to wonder how it will rub on the players.
“We want to be a tough, physical football team. How do you finish down the stretch? You get younger, you get guys that can finish down the stretch and you don’t have the niggling, nagging injuries you had before. Plain and simple, not coaching scared.”
Tough, Physical, Younger & Not coaching scared is a far cry from what fans have seen over the last seven seasons, lets just hope the plan unfolds the way Morris invisions it or else it could be a long season ahead for us fanatics.