So Tampa Bay did have a successor in mind for the recently deposed Jon Gruden. Multiple sources — FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer and ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas primary among them — are reporting that the Buccaneers are set to hire newly-promoted defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as the team’s head coach, with a press conference coming as early as today.
The head coaching move comes with the connected move of appointing Mark Dominik as General Manager and hiring Gary Gibbs, a former Saints defensive coordinator, as assistant head coach. Whether he’ll also fill the role of defensive coordinator has yet to be determined.
The moves clear up some major questions about why the Buccaneers fired Gruden and GM Bruce Allen when they did. Clearly, Tampa was afraid they were going to lose Morris to one of the existing coaching openings, and they felt he was the man to take the team forward. That being said, Morris isn’t exactly an experienced head coach. Until weeks ago Morris was only a positional coach, and his adjustment to running an entire team will be striking.
JOE BUCS FAN, among others, has a number of speculatory reasons for why the team’s owners, the Glazer brothers, pulled the trigger on Gruden’s reign, and there’s reason to believe that at least some of them might be true. We’re not about to buy the line about Jerramy Stevens moving next door to Joel Glazer, but don’t underestimate the Schadenfruede angle of Al Davis laughing at Tampa’s loss in Oakland. That can get under any competitive owner’s skin.
So what now for Buccaneers fans? There are still more questions than answers, to be sure. The team’s defensive situation is still unresolved, even if Gibbs does become the defensive coordinator. And the offensive side of the ball is even more murky, where picking a quarterback will surely be a priority. Assuming Jeff Garcia is safe as an incumbent is foolish at best.
Meanwhile, Chucky (Gruden, obviously) is already begetting plenty of head-coaching carousel speculation, with some citing Oakland as a location already drooling about his availability and a chance to bring him back. Will the Jets pull away from their Brian Schottenheimer plan to hire Gruden? What about the Chiefs? Even if the Rams seem closer than ever to hiring Jason Garrett, the chance to get a coach like Gruden could make them think twice.
It all just adds intrigue and confusion to an already mystifying offseason … and we’re not even officially there yet. Buckle up football fans, it’s going to be a rocky ride in a lot of places.