Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jermaine Phillips was asked Saturday if he could believe the changes made by the organization in the previous 24 hours. Phillips began to answer then stopped. He began again and stopped again.
The answer is no.
No one other than a Glazer can.
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Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen had their jobs Friday afternoon.
A few hours later they didn’t.
Raheem Morris was the defensive coordinator Friday afternoon. A few hours later he was the head coach.
“The faces have changed,” Phillips finally said. “What’s been Buc ball for years will continue to be the same.”
Umm, actually, that will change, too.
The Glazer family swept Gruden and Allen out the door and replaced them with a pair of young up-and-comers because they are tired of Buc ball. At least the Buc ball as orchestrated by Gruden and Allen. You know, the kind that can’t win in December or the postseason.
Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said Gruden and Allen were ousted not because of December’s collapse, but because he wasn’t pleased with the direction of the team over the past few years. The up-and-down, who’s-the-quarterback today world of Gruden finally ran its course.
Because he’s the hot, young assistant that other organizations are looking at, and if Morris has the DNA to be a head coach, why not make him the head coach here? Otherwise you are developing someone else’s head coach.
The Bucs need a lot of things. A quarterback. Running backs. Receivers.
A defense that doesn’t wilt late in the season.
The players seemed tired of Gruden. You saw that in their play down the stretch.
You hear it in their answers regarding Morris.
“He doesn’t have an ego. He’s not ego-driven,” Phillips said.
But Morris has energy.
Morris is rah-rah. In fact, the players call him “Ra,” but that’s more of a shortened version of his last name than an ode to his style.
Yet, Morris is the type of coach who chest-bumps and fist-pumps and jumps on a player’s back and rubs his head after a big play. Whether that makes him a successful NFL coach remains to be seen. But the players love his style.
“His office door is always open,” Phillips said. “He’ll reach you in a way that you need to be reached.”
Morris’s new immediate boss is Mark Dominik, the Bucs director of pro personnel who replaced Allen as general manager. Allen was seen as nothing more than Gruden’s caddie.
Dominik will be different.
Dominik spent 14 years on the personnel and scouting side of the business. When Morris first arrived as a quality control coach, he would sit in Dominik’s office and discuss the free agents, college players and Bucs players listed on various boards. That’s how Morris learned to evaluate players, and how Dominik learned about Morris.
Now, they are charged with leading the Bucs out of mediocrity.
It was a bold move by the Glazers, replacing a coach with a Super Bowl championship on his resume and an experienced general manager with a 32-year-old coach and a 37-year-old GM.
It was the Glazers standing on the brakes, bringing the franchise to a screeching stop. It was the Glazers turning the steering wheel and stepping on the gas.
The faces changed. The voices have changed.
The direction has changed.
Where to? We’ll find out.