Mid-Season Report: Coaches/GM

Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris have turned the Bucs around.
Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris have turned the Bucs around. /
Dominik and Morris have turned the Bucs around.
Dominik and Morris have turned the Bucs around. /

We continue our mid-season breakdown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by examining their coaching and GM.

The regime of Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris didn’t exactly hit the ground running. After raising some eye-brows early on with a trade for Kellen Winslow followed by a move up in the first round to draft Josh Freeman, Bucs fans actually booed them at the Bucs 2009 draft party. A 3-13 opening campaign didn’t help things much either.

A lot’s changed in a year. Now Raheem Morris is garnering Coach-of-the-Year attention and Mark Dominik is earning respect as a solid NFL personnel man. The two of them make an odd pairing. One a fairly straight-laced Kansas Jayhawk, the other an exuberant, excitable Kansas State Wildcat.

But so far the partnership has paid off. The Bucs have overhauled their offense and now have a number of exciting young weapons to develop and deploy on the NFL for years to come. The Bucs are 5-3 and have a brash new confidence and bravado about them that emanate from their head coach.

Raheem Morris

Morris is a highly unorthodox guy, but he’s done one hell of a job in his second year. A lot of people predicted five wins, tops, for Morris’ Buccaneers. They’ve reached that total in the first eight games of the season and have a chance to make a run at not just a wild-card spot, but possibly the NFC South. This team is developing week in and week out and by the time this season is done, I’m sure the product on the field will be at least five-fold better than what was there to start the season.

I don’t always agree with Morris and his ideologies. I didn’t think the Bucs benefited from axing all their veteran leaders (sans Ronde Barber) two years ago and at first I didn’t like his brash proclamation that he had the best team in the NFC. But Raheem Morris knows how to motivate a team. The Bucs were forced to buy into their coach’s words or face embarrassment. The Bucs took hits from the media all week and then went into Arizona and hit back. They pushed back.

That’s huge. The personality of this coach is rubbing off on this team and they’re playing with energy and confidence. But that can be dangerous too, because the Bucs play a bit recklessly at times. They’re not disciplined. That needs to be the next step for Morris in coaching this young team, he needs to draw the fine line between playing with passion and playing undisciplined. At NFL speed that’s not always a distinction that comes easily but one that Morris needs to instill in this team.

All things considered though, Raheem Morris has done an unbelievable job taking the youngest team in football 5-3 through the first 8 games.

Mark Dominik

I’ve opined many times that what Mark Dominik has done with this offense is nothing short of remarkable. The Bucs are the youngest team in the league with two rookie receivers, a rookie left guard, rookie running back, rookie fullback and second year quarterback lining up on their offense. Obviously injuries have pressed rookies into starting duties earlier than expected, but you can’t deny the results.

Dominik has been very thrifty in building a very exciting, promising young offense for the Buccaneers over the last two season. Players like LeGarrette Blount, Mike Williams, Josh Freeman, Sammie Stroughter, Arrelious Benn and a youthful offensive line are going to develop into a dominant offense eventually. That’s a testament to Dominik and his personnel skills.

But on the flip side, whereas he’s been thrifty in building the offense, Dominik has spent heavily in the draft to build the defensive front seven and that has yet to materialize. Players like Brian Price, Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller have yet to come in and contribute in the way the Buccaneers had hoped to. This off-season Dominik will once again be tasked with addressing the defense. But based on some of the other personnel moves he’s made recently, I think it’s going to get fixed.

Grade: B+

The only reason that this isn’t an A is because of the lack of discipline this team plays with at times and the lack of development in the defensive front four. Other than that these two have been incredible for the Buccaneers up to this point in the season.