Pat Morris has helped five different running backs record 1,000-yard seasons, ushered seven different offensive linemen to the Pro Bowl and been a part of the NFL's best rushing attack three times in the last 14 seasons.
Now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are counting on Morris having the same sort of impact on their young and rising offense.
On Saturday the Buccaneers announced the hiring of Morris, a 14-year NFL coaching veteran, as their new offensive line coach. Morris replaces Pete Mangurian, who held the post for the past two seasons under Head Coach Raheem Morris.
Pat Morris comes to the Buccaneers after five extremely successful seasons in the same capacity with the Minnesota Vikings. Before joining the Vikings in 2006, he was the offensive line coach for the Detroit Lions in 2004 and 2005 and a member of the San Francisco 49ers' staff from 1997-2003. He launched his NFL career in 1997 as the 49ers' tight ends/assistant offensive line coach, then was promoted to offensive line coach in 1999.
Morris arrives in Tampa with several strong connections to the Buccaneers' existing staff and player roster. During his tenure with the Lions, he shared the sideline with current Tampa Bay Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson, including the 2005 season in which Olson was Detroit's offensive coordinator.
After joining the Vikings in 2006, Morris helped launch the career of Buccaneers offensive tackle Donald Penn, who was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate in 2010. Penn signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2006 and ended up on Minnesota's practice squad before the Bucs signed him to their active roster later in the season. Penn took over as the team's starting left tackle early in 2007 and has rapidly developed into one of the NFL's best left tackles.
Morris' offensive lines have repeatedly helped produce some of the best rushing attacks in the NFL. The 49ers paced the league in that category in both 1997 and 1998 and the Vikings were the NFL's top rushing team in 2008. Overall, Morris' teams have finished in the top 10 in rushing in nine of his 14 seasons as a coach. Running backs who have cracked the 1,000-yard mark behind lines coached by Morris include Garrison Hearst (1997-98, 2001), Charlie Garner (1999-2000), Kevin Jones (2004), Chester Taylor (2006) and Adrian Peterson (2007-10). During Morris' seven years in San Francisco, the 49ers averaged 135.5 rushing yards per game.
The Vikings' offensive line has been one of the most effective and honored units in the NFL for the past five seasons. Three different lineman made the Pro Bowl during Morris' five years in Minnesota: Matt Birk (2006-07), Steve Hutchinson (2006-09) and Bryant McKinnie (2009). Hutchinson was also an AP first-team All-Pro each year from 2007-09. Another four blockers made it to the all-star game under Morris' tutelage in San Francisco: Kevin Gogan (1997-98), Ray Brown (2001), Jeremy Newberry (2001-02) and Ron Stone (2002).
In Tampa, Morris will assist with an offense that produced outstanding results in 2010 with a largely young roster. Running back LeGarrette Blount became just the second undrafted rookie in NFL history to crack the 1,000-yard mark, gaining 1,007 yards. QB Josh Freeman, at the age of 22, posted the best single-season passer rating in franchise history for a player who started all 16 games. And the offensive line ranked 10th in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed despite frequent turnover in the lineup. Penn was the only offensive lineman to start all 16 games in 2010, and the team leaned heavily on such unheralded rookies as Ted Larsen and Derek Hardman.
A former offensive lineman at USC, Morris coached for two decades on the college level, beginning with his alma mater 1976. He subsequently had coaching stints at Northern Arizona, Minnesota, Michigan State and Stanford. Morris originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio.