Morris Getting Pounded, Not In A Fun Way

Published: November 30th, 2009

Raheem hides his defensive calls from Atlanta. It didn't help in the last minute.
Several news outlets are taking all kinds of shots at Raheem Morris for his decision making during yesterday’s game. A couple of them are even national guys. SI’s Don Banks, for example:

Bucs head coach Raheem Morris deserves some credit for Tampa Bay’s improved defensive showing against Atlanta. But his questionable decision-making undid much of the good that apparently came from Morris taking over as the defensive play-caller for the demoted Jim Bates. The Bucs sacked Falcons quarterbacks six times on Sunday, and played with an aggressiveness that has been rare this season.

But Morris looked like a rookie head coach when he called for a fake punt that went awry, wasted a late timeout that gave Atlanta a breather near the goal line, and went for an ill-advised 51-yard field goal attempt that gave the Falcons great field position for their game-winning drive.

Pat Yasinskas is the next one to step up:

Maybe Morris did the right thing in taking the defense out of Bates’ hands. Maybe Morris will make another move this week and make himself into a head coach — one that doesn’t make huge mistakes when his team pretty much has a game won.

And, of course, local cockgargler Rick Stroud can’t help himself.

Where Morris succeeded some as a defensive coordinator Sunday, two decisions he made as a coach in the second half helped lose the game.

There’s going to be a lot more after today. All the analysts will have had time to come up with their word plays and sad cliches and miserable puns and will treat Morris’s fake punt like Bill Belichick’s fourth-and-two. Morris has to expect to take criticism for controversial calls because he’d be glad to take the praise if it had worked. Everyone would be writing how Morris is the kind of coach Jon Gruden never was because Gruden almost always played it conservative in those situations. They’d be telling us how he believes in his players and plays to win, whereas since it didn’t work, we’re hearing about how he looks desperate. Well, it wasn’t desperate. It was entertaining. It was one of the few entertaining plays we’ve had the pleasure to see this season.

Everyone is coming down on Raheem for his coaching of this game, but I thought it was one of his best coached games so far this season. Hell, forget that Atlanta had lost some key players. A few weeks ago, the Bucs wouldn’t have contended in this game regardless of who was hurt or what scrubs Atlanta decided to play. This came down to the last minute and could have been won if not for a defensive collapse in the fourth quarter. That needs to be cleaned up. But let’s not pretend that the fake punt or decision to try a field goal had anything to do with the loss. How did I get put in the position of defending Raheem Morris?