NFL News: Raheem Morris Fired, Rams and Colts Make Changes

Raheem Morris and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the season with 10 consecutive losses! (Photo Credit: BucStop.com)

By Brian Willwerth 

On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began a much-needed housecleaning. They fired head coach Raheem Morris. All of his assistants were canned, too.

It was pretty clear to, well, everyone that Morris had lost this team. A promising 4-2 season ended up as a 4-12 disappointment. Ten consecutive losses – many of them of the blowout variety, including Sunday’s hilarious, (and I mean that sarcastically) 45-24 drubbing at the hands of the Falcons. The score was 42-0 before halftime.

The 10-game losing streak matches the team’s longest ever in a single season, back in 1977. Over the final ten games, the Bucs gave up 31 or more points seven times.

Morris went 17-31 in his three seasons, and that includes last year’s surprising 10-6 campaign.

The defense allowed 494 points this season. Yes, that’s dead-last in the NFL. No other Tampa Bay team has allowed as much.  They gave up an average of 156 yards per game on the ground. Yes, that’s dead-last in the NFL. They were third from the bottom in total yards allowed per game, (394.) Only New England and Green Bay ranked lower in that category – no joking.

Quarterback Josh Freeman threw only six interceptions last year. This year? 22.

On the subject of turnovers, guess where the Bucs rank in that category? Yes, dead-last.

Other NFL News: 

* The St. Louis Rams fired their head coach Steve Spagnuolo, and general manager Bill Devaney. The Rams went 2-14 this season, as well as tied for the worst record in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts.

* Speaking of the Colts, they’re shaking things up as well. They’ve fired vice chairman Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian. Indy, like St. Louis, won only two games this season, and will have the first pick in the NFL draft.

Willwerth: Breaking Down The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What's the matter with Tampa Bay? Brian Willwerth has some answers! (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

By Brian Willwerth 

I’ve been following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since the late 1980’s. That’s not an easy task, given that I live in the heart of Patriots’ country. I’ve seen the Bucs win a Super Bowl. I’ve also seen them when [4-12] was considered a “good” year.

With regard to that second statement, that may very well be where this year’s team is headed.

Let’s flash back to October 26. Tampa Bay defeated New Orleans at Raymond James Stadium, 26-20. The Bucs were [4-2] and in first place in the NFC South.  They also had a victory over Atlanta earlier in the year.

That was the last time they tasted victory.

Seriously, what happened to this team? It all started the next week in London with a loss to the Bears. The bye week did little to ease the pain, as they lost the rematch against the Saints two weeks later. They’ve gone on to lose six more games in a row, eight in all, and what started as a promising year has turned into a disaster.

But it’s how they’ve been losing that has caught my attention. They’re not just dropping games; they’re dropping them badly.

During the current eight-game slide, they’ve given up 30 points or more five times. Twice they’ve given up over 40, including to Jacksonville, a team that finds the end zone as often as Kellen Winslow does.

So change is needed – big-time.

Let’s start with the head coach, Raheem Morris. The guy looks lost on the sideline. He gets out-coached in every game: that is, every game that his team is actually close in. Tampa Bay is also the third-most penalized team in the NFL.  Penalties equal lack of discipline, while discipline equals coaching.

While we’re at it, let’s get rid of the defensive coordinator as well. You may have heard of him; his name is Raheem Morris. The Bucs are giving up 28.6 points per game – second-worst in the league. They are third worst in rushing yards allowed and total yards allowed. The pass defense is ranked 26th. For that, we should throw a party. They make the opposing running back look like a star. They can’t tackle. They don’t get nearly enough pressure on the quarterback. Only the Buffalo Bills have fewer sacks. Morris’ record in three seasons is [17-29]. And that includes last year’s surprising [10-6] campaign, which makes me wonder how they were able to pull that off.

The offensive coordinator is Greg Olson. He needs to walk the plank, too.

Let’s dissect some numbers, shall we?

The offense is 27th in points scored, 20th in total yards, 27th in total yards, etc.  Quarterback Josh Freeman, after an outstanding 2010 season, has thrown 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He’s lost three fumbles, including one Saturday night against Dallas. Remember Mike Williams? Yeah, he was great last year, too.  Where’s he been? Not in the end zone, that’s for sure. He’s only found pay dirt three times in 2011. Freeman said the other day that Williams needs to do a better job of beating coverage down the field, but I say – it would also help if Freeman wasn’t running for his life all the time because he’s been sacked 24 times this season.

So the defense is awful. The offense is inconsistent. That begs the next question: who on this team scares you?  Yes, I hear crickets.

Remember back when Tampa Bay had one of the most feared defenses in the NFL, with the likes of Warren Sapp, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch to name a few? Yes, Barber is still there, but he’s on the verge of hanging up his cleats.

There is a severe lack of talent in Tampa, which brings me to the owners of the franchise: the Glazers.  For those who don’t know, they also control Manchester United. There is a perception out there that the Glazers care more about the soccer team than they do about the Pewter Pirates. Being $40 million under the salary cap will do that. Until last year, the Buccaneers had sold out every single game at Raymond James Stadium. They didn’t sell out any last year, and only two this year – against Indianapolis and Dallas – and there was plenty of visiting blue in the crowd for both of those games. My message to the Glazers is simple: start spending some money on impact players that will put some butts in the seats. If you don’t, then sell the franchise to someone who will. Period. End of story.

The Buccaneers have two games remaining: at Carolina and at Atlanta. Nothing leads me to believe they’re going to win either of those games, but maybe they’ll surprise me.

Living in New England, the Tampa newspapers are one of my few ways of keeping up on the daily comings and goings of my favorite team. I get the sense from reading them online that the Glazers may not even make a move, which is unbelievable.

Dear Glazers: I have gone to at least one game at Raymond James Stadium each of the last four years.  You’d better give me a reason to do the same in 2012.


NFL Monday Headlines: Haley, Sparano Fired on Monday

On Monday, Kansas City fired Todd Haley, and Miami said, good bye to Tony Sparano! (Photo Credit: Ology.com)

By Brian Willwerth 

This is the time of year when NFL coaches start getting the axe. Jack Del Rio was canned earlier this season in Jacksonville, and on Monday, two more teams fired their head coaches.

Todd Haley is out in Kansas City. The Chiefs won the AFC West last season, but 2011 has been a disaster. The Chiefs are [5-8], and while not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, it would take an epic miracle for them to make the postseason. Injuries have hit this team hard, most notably QB Matt Cassel, but there are others as well. That said, it’s been a disappointing year. Romeo Crennel will coach the rest of the season.

In Miami, the Dolphins parted ways with Tony Sparano. Miami lost its first seven games, and currently sits at [4-9] after losing at home on Sunday to Philadelphia. Yet, I know a diehard Dolphins’ fan who thinks even more change is needed in south Florida, so we’ll see if that happens. Secondary coach Todd Bowles will take over as the team’s interim coach.

Who else is on the hot seat?

Since I’m a Buccaneers’ fan, Raheem Morris’ job has to be in jeopardy in Tampa. The Bucs have lost seven in a row, and in the last two weeks have given up 79 points to Carolina and Jacksonville – not exactly the upper echelon of the NFL. Tampa Bay could use a house-cleaning, starting with the owners. I have a few things to say about the Glazers, but will save my rant on them for another day.