Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris is taking it upon himself to fix one of the NFL’s worst defenses.
The first-year head coach added defensive playcalling to his duties Tuesday, demoting veteran defensive coordinator Jim Bates after a 38-7 loss to unbeaten NFC South rival New Orleans dropped the Buccaneers to 1-9.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility. I feel like I have to do it,” said Morris, who at 33 is the league’s youngest coach. “I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do as a head coach.”
The Bucs are 26th in the NFL in total defense, allowing just over 378 yards per game. They’re last in rushing defense and have allowed 294 points, the second-highest total in the league.
It’s the second major change Morris and general manager Mark Dominik have made with the coaching staff since late August. Offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski was fired 10 days before the start of the season and replaced by quarterback coach Greg Olson, a Richland High graduate and former Washington State assistant coach.
“It’s my call. It’s my job to make sure we progress,” said Morris, who took over for Jon Gruden after Tampa Bay ended last season with a four-game losing streak that cost the team a playoff berth.
“We’ve got to go out, we’ve got to progress and try to get better these next six weeks. That’s my focus.”
It’s not clear what Bates’ duties will be the rest of the season. The 17-year NFL assistant was hired to install a system to replace the Tampa 2 scheme the Bucs ran for 13 seasons under former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Dallas upset with officials
Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips is tired of hearing the league apologize for officiating mistakes.
Dallas was on the wrong end of incidents involving replay in its past two games. In a loss to Green Bay, the Packers were not penalized for throwing a challenge flag when they were out of challenges, and in a win over Washington on Sunday the crew made a series of errors on the same play.
It ended up not hurting the Cowboys because the Redskins missed a field goal, but it still left Phillips steamed.
“Well, I mean, it shouldn’t (happen),” he said. “That’s what they’re paid to do. They’re paid to go by the rules and make sure they know whether a team can challenge or whether a team can review something or not. That’s what the officials are paid to do.”
Phillips said he spoke with NFL officiating director Mike Pereira about it, and that Pereira is upset, too, because these errors go beyond judgment calls about things such as holding or pass interference.
“There shouldn’t be any rules that they missed,” he said. “I think that’s what Mike was upset about.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a concussion but is expected to play at Baltimore as long as he continues to pass the daily tests given to players who have sustained the injury. ... Buffalo has contacted former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan about coaching the Bills, a person familiar with the Bills’ search said. ... Right tackle Winston Justice signed a four-year contract extension with the Philadelphia Eagles. ... The Atlanta Falcons are looking at alternatives for slumping kicker Jason Elam, bringing in four kickers to try out, including former Seahawks draft pick and University of Georgia star Brandon Coutu. ... The NFL has moved the Minnesota at Arizona game to the night slot on Dec. 6 under its flexible scheduling policy and moving the original Week 13 night game, New England at Miami, to a 10 a.m. start. ... The Carolina Panthers placed linebacker Landon Johnson on season-ending injured reserve because of a knee injury and signed linebacker Jordan Senn. ... Cowboys tight end Jason Witten might miss Thursday’s game against Oakland because of a sprained foot. ... Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a wide-ranging memo about concussions to teams, saying the co-chairmen of the league’s committee on brain injuries have resigned and that he is examining potential rule changes “to reduce head impacts.”