MORRIS WILL REPLACE KIFFIN
Posted by Mike Florio on December 25, 2008, 6:43 p.m. EST
Our friends at Pewter Report and the St. Petersburg Times (I’m glad we’re not the only ones who worked on Christmas) advised us separately today that the Bucs have named defensive backs coach Raheem Morris as the new defensive coordinator.
Per Pewter Report, Morris got the news on Christmas Eve.
Morris will replace Monte Kiffin, the long-time coordinator who’ll head to the University of Tennessee after the season. Kiffin’s son, Lane, recently became the head coach at UT.
Monte Kiffin had been working for the Bucs since 1996, when he was hired into the position of defensive coordinator by former coach Tony Dungy.
Kiffin and Morris will remain in their current positions until the Bucs’ 2008 games are completed, including playoffs. (If they lose to the Raiders on Sunday, there might not be any playoffs.)
Said coach Jon Gruden of the Morris promotion, in quotes circulated by the team’s P.R. department: “He’s been with me a long time and he’s had a lot of success here. He’s had his hand in a lot of real good things. I like this defense. I believe in it, and certainly believe in Raheem Morris. I believe he’ll be outstanding and we just wanted to make sure that our players knew and I just wanted to end the speculation, to be honest with you.”
The move could help the Bucs retain cornerback Philip Buchanon, who is scheduled to become a free agent.
“Personally, yes,” Buchanon told Pewter Report as to whether the Morris promotion would be a factor in Buchanon’s decision to stay. “That is a great big deal for me because me and coach Raheem we talk almost every day. Monday, Tuesday, we talk a lot about the game film and things we need to do. I talk to him all the time, so I definitely have a great deal of respect for him and I’m just happy for him right now.”
Then again, Buchanon might ultimately have to jump to a new team in order to stay with Morris. At Stephen Holder of the St. Petersburg Times points out, the Bucs won’t be able to prevent Morris from interviewing for head-coaching jobs elsewhere. Morris has been mentioned in some circles as a potential candidate for one of the various vacancies certain to come open after the season.
So, basically, Morris could end up holding his new job for less than a month.