The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have exercised a two-year option on the contract of Head Coach Raheem Morris.
Morris recently concluded his second season at Tampa Bay's helm and is now under contract through the 2012 campaign. The Buccaneers believe they are on the cusp of an extended period of success and credit Morris with getting outstanding results from a very inexperienced roster in 2010.
The Buccaneers, in fact, were the league's youngest team this past season, and they had 25 rookies on the active roster at some point during the campaign. Despite that pervasive youth, the Buccaneers found success, finishing 10-6 to become the first team since the 1970 merger to start 10 different rookies and still achieve a winning record. Because of that pervasive youth, the organization also believes there are many good seasons ahead, and that Morris is the man to lead the team to the next level.
Morris was named the eighth head coach in Buccaneers history on January 17, 2009, the same day the team introduced Mark Dominik as its new general manager. Dominik and Morris subsequently launched a plan to revitalize the team's roster and establish the sort of long-term success it had previously experienced in the mid-'90s and early 2000s. After a 3-13 campaign in 2009, the Buccaneers added several more important pieces through the 2010 draft and surprised the NFL by emerging as a playoff contender this past fall. The Buccaneers (along with the New York Giants) became the first NFC team to win 10 games and not qualify for the playoffs since 1991; as it was, Tampa Bay was not eliminated from playoff contention until late in the afternoon of the final day of the regular season. Because the Buccaneers were not thought to be playoff contenders by outside analysts before the 2010 season began, Morris is considered a prime candidate for this year's NFL Coach of the Year award.
Morris has also helped oversee the rapid development of young quarterback Josh Freeman. The first draft pick under Dominik and Morris, Freeman has taken just two seasons to establish himself as a franchise quarterback, earning Pro Bowl alternate honors in 2010. Freeman's 95.9 passer rating in '10 is the best in team history for a quarterback who started all 16 games in a season. His 25/6 touchdown/interception ratio is the ninth best in NFL history among players with at least 20 TD passes in a season.
Morris has also served as the Buccaneers' defensive coordinator since the last six games of the 2009 season. In that capacity, he oversaw a dramatic improvement in the team's defensive success in '09 and directed the league's ninth-best scoring defense in 2010. Morris has helped develop a core of young talent on that side of the ball, including defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, cornerbacks Aqib Talib and E.J. Biggers, linebackers Geno Hayes and Quincy Black, safety Cody Grimm and several others.
Morris worked on the Buccaneers' coaching staff for six seasons before his promotion to the head coaching position. He served as a defensive quality control coach for the 2002 Super Bowl-winning team, was a defensive assistant in 2003 and was then promoted to assistant defensive backs coach for the following two seasons. After one year as the defensive coordinator at Kansas State in 2006 he returned to Tampa to serve as the Bucs' defensive backs coach. He was briefly promoted to defensive coordinator after the 2008 season before getting the top job a few weeks later.