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Raheem Morris Gets Stamp of Approval in Coach of the Year Voting

Feb 3, 2011 – 11:22 AM
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Ray Glier

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Raheem Morris' boast, "We are the best team in the NFC", will not be on his tombstone. It will be largely forgotten, perhaps just a side joke, if he continues on this upward arc in his coaching career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This week, Morris, in just his second season as a head coach in the NFL, finished second in Coach of the Year balloting.

Bill Belichick of the Patriots won by a large margin, 30 votes to 11½ for Morris.

Morris is the anti-Belichick, a coach who can have some fun in front of the cameras and only occasionally seems grouchy. Belichick wins, which is what we should care most about, but I have heard it described that he sucks the fun out of the room.

Morris, on the other hand, relishes the banter. When he proclaimed his team was the best in the NFC early in the season, he was ridiculed. Plenty of people, including me, took some shots at him. Morris just shrugged.

Just remember, this was a team that finished 10-6 and started more than 10 rookies. The Bucs were the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to have a winning record when starting 10 or more rookies, according to the Associated Press.

The previous season the Bucs were 3-13 and another three-win season was predicted for them. They ended up challenging for a wild card spot and didn't get in because of a bad call in the end zone against Detroit, which was a loss for the Bucs.

The Bucs defeated one team with a winning record, but they did it with a second-year quarterback, rookie wide receivers, a battered offensive line, and injuries on every level of the defense.

Morris calls the defensive signals and he managed to slow down some good offenses with a defense that included a seventh round draft pick starting at safety, Cody Grimm.

The best thing you can say about a coach is that his players play for him and buy in. The Bucs bought in.

Morris will make $2 million in 2011 and $2 million in 2012. Tampa Bay, which is hunting for bargains with the disappearance of their fans and a slowdown in cash flow, has a bargain.

By the way, neither Mike McCarthy of the Packers nor Mike Tomlin of the Steelers received a vote. Their teams, by the way, are in the Super Bowl.
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