The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are next in our series of team-by-team mailbags.
Chris in Columbia, SC writes: Pat, love the blog. Question: you have deep ties to Tampa and know the team pretty well. That said, do you honestly see them bringing in their third head coach in three years? I know Morris has been bad, and the circus at One Buc Place is beyond ridiculous, but can they honestly afford to do that? As much as I'd like to see it, and it would be better for the franchise, it doesn't make sense to me personally from a realistic stand point.
Pat Yasinskas: I still think there’s a decent chance that some things will start to click for the Bucs over the final six games and that would mean Raheem Morris stays and continues the rebuilding process into next year. However, I’ve got to be totally honest and say that if the final six games go like the rest of the season, I think Morris will be out. Yes, the Bucs still would be paying Jon Gruden, Morris and a new coach and that would be expensive. But can they afford to stick with Morris if there isn’t at least some hope on the horizon for this team? I live here in Tampa and see a fan base that’s incredibly down on this franchise right now. Understandable because the Bucs sure haven’t done much to encourage anyone this year.
Daniel in Sarasota writes: Pat, you are extremely pessimistic about Raheem's change to Cover 2 this week. You even entered a snarky comment in there. First of all, Raheem has a lot of different players than Monte had last year (albeit young players), and they haven’t even tried Cover 2 yet this year! At least give him a chance before jumping on the "Tampa has no chance" bandwagon like everyone else.
Pat Yasinskas: All right, I’ll be an optimist here. The change to the Cover Two is going to solve everything. The Bucs will win Sunday, not lose for the rest of the year, go 16-0 next season and win the Super Bowl. You happy? You really believe that? Look, I think the Cover Two can be a great system and it has been. I also thought Jim Bates’ system has a track record of some pretty good success. One thing I really admired about Tony Dungy when he came in here was that he was stubborn. He stuck to his system even when it didn’t seem to be working and it eventually worked. Morris came in to a rebuilding program, like Dungy, and he made a conscious decision to abandon the Cover Two. But he hasn’t stuck to his guns anything like Dungy did. He’s already resorted to some Cover Two this year and he gave up on Bates after only 10 games. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but, to me, Morris doesn’t look like a guy who believes in his plan. He looks like a guy who is desperately grasping for anything.
Richard in Tampa writes: Assuming that Josh Freeman turns to be decent not great but decent ( like a Tony Romo ) and a couple of the other youngsters turn out to be good as well and a quality draft class do you see the Bucs in contention for a playoff in the next year or two? Or do think that we will be like theLions or Browns and be a bust for a while?
Pat Yasinskas: Freeman is the one positive thing the Bucs can hang their hat on right now. I saw some good things in his first two starts and I’ll overlook what happened against the Saints because he’s a rookie and they’re an undefeated team. Too early to tell exactly how good Freeman can be, but he might be a true franchise quarterback and that’s a valuable commodity in the NFL. If you’ve got a franchise quarterback, or even a decent one, that’s a good start. Yes, the Bucs have a lot of work to do, but an offseason of adding talent could change things pretty fast.
Greg in Tampa writes: Pat, has Raheem lost his mind? Six games to go until the end of the season, and he decides yanking the Tampa 2 defense out was a bad idea with the players he has and demotes Jim Bates?!?!?!? To top it off he signs another QB? When will the madness end?
Pat Yasinskas: Like I said above, I think what happened with Bates smacks of desperation. But it was Morris’ call and we’ll see if he was right. If he was wrong, there aren’t any lightning rods left around him to take the fall and that’s not a good spot to be in.