Raheem Morris' pace in line with big names

TAMPA, Fla. -- Coach Raheem Morris is taking a lot of heat from the media and from Buccaneers fans these days. That’s totally natural.

When your team is on a three-game losing streak and coming off an embarrassing loss to Houston, you’re not going to be the most popular guy in town. Throw in the fact that the Bucs came into this season looking like a very promising young team after going 10-6 last season. Then, add the fact that they’re sitting at 4-5 this season and facing the Super Bowl champion Packers in Green Bay this Sunday, and there is bound to be some criticism.

There was a general observation by fans and media, later confirmed by Morris, that the Bucs (or at least a fair amount of them) didn’t play hard in the loss to Houston. If that continues the rest of the season, it will not reflect well on Morris.

There even have been suggestions that Morris could be on the hot seat. That’s at least possible if the Bucs don’t finish the season well. But let’s put the raw emotions aside for just a minute and look at some facts and the bigger picture.

Morris is under contract through 2012. The Bucs initially signed him to a two-year contract with an option for 2011 and 2012. They picked up that option.

For the moment, let’s ignore the current losing streak and the fact that the Bucs seem to have some big issues. Let’s look only at the numbers of what Morris has done in his first three seasons, and then compare that to what some prominent coaches have done in their first three seasons.

Morris is 17-24. That’s’ not great, but Morris already has more wins than some very big names had in their first three seasons as a head coach. Tom Landry had nine wins. Jeff Fisher had 16. Chuck Noll had 12 and Mike Shanahan had 16.

Morris and the Bucs still have seven games left to play. That means he’s in striking distance of the win totals put up by Bill Belichick (20), Bill Walsh (21), Marv Levy (19), Bill Parcells (22) and Dick Vermeil (18) in their first three seasons.

For the sake of comparison, let’s see what the other current NFC South coaches did in their first three seasons. New Orleans’ Sean Payton was 25-23. Atlanta’s Mike Smith was 33-15. Carolina’s Ron Rivera is in his first season and is 2-7, but predecessor John Fox was 25-23 in his first three seasons.

So Morris isn’t far out of line with what some big-name coaches did in their first three seasons. But he certainly could look a lot better if the Bucs stop their slide and have a strong finish.

Below is a sampling of what some prominent coaches did in their first three seasons.