New Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris will stick to his core beliefs in leading the team into a new era
His title has changed, quite rapidly in fact — from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator to head coach, all within a matter of weeks.
His office space will change, from the more utilitarian digs of an assistant coach to the much larger office reserved for the team's on-field leader.
His responsibilities will change, as he'll now be tasked with overseeing every aspect of a football team trying to erase the sting of a late-season slide in 2008 and move into a new chapter in franchise history.
But, even amid all this change, one thing will remain constant about Raheem Morris — the man himself.
His newest promotion won't change the energetic, passionate style he's always brought to the game. Nor will it alter the work ethic that has allowed him to make a meteoric rise from a Bucs quality control coach in 2002 to the league's youngest head coach in 2008.
And while much will be made about the youthful, exuberant personality that Morris brings to the table in the coming weeks and months as he assumes control, Morris isn't interested in highlighting any of those qualities that earned him his newest promotion.
Rather, he pointed out his parents seated in the front row at a press conference announcing his hiring Saturday afternoon and thanked them for molding him into the man he is today — and the man he says he will continue to be as he takes on his biggest challenge to date.
"Honestly, you've got to ask other people that," Morris said when asked about his leadership qualities. "That question is not fair for me to answer. I don't have a big ego. I've got core beliefs, I'm Raheem Morris, from those two people right there, and that's all I am. I'm just Raheem Morris, that's all."
But who is Raheem Morris, exactly, and what are these core beliefs he refers to?
Bucs fans likely know him as the energetic young coach that spent the 2008 season as the team's defensive backs coach before earning a promotion to defensive coordinator on Christmas Day.
Morris originally joined the Bucs as a defensive quality control coach in 2002 before spending the 2003 season as a defensive assistant and 2004-05 as the team's assistant defensive backs coach. Morris then spent the 2006 season as the defensive coordinator at Kansas State, but was lured back to Tampa after the usually-stingy Bucs pass defense fell to a number-19 ranking the lone year he was away.
Often seen rallying his charges with a visible degree of excitement from the sidelines or flying high in the air to give a celebratory chest bump after a big play, Morris is known for his passionate approach to the game.
"I expect to see the exact same Raheem," veteran running back Warrick Dunn said Saturday, and throughout much of his press conference Morris echoed a similar sentiment. Even if Buccaneers fans haven't gotten to know the real Raheem Morris well just yet, they soon will.
"The fans are everything," Morris said. "Everything based on the Buccaneers since I've been here is based on the fan base. We respect our fans. We respect our community. We want to do as much as we can to help it. I'm from a community, and I love that community. But this is my community now and I'm responsible for it. As the head coach, you're the front porch of the organization and you're the front porch of your community. That's what I want to be."
And as for his core beliefs, Morris says fans can expect many of the same fundamentals he has stressed ever since he came to Tampa.
"We all know in this room — it's no secret — we've got to finish better," Morris said. "There isn't any doubt about it. We've got to finish. That is the whole emphasis — finish. It's hustle, it's hit, it's back to the basics. Go read our core beliefs. That's what we've got to do. We've got to be consistent in our plan, period."
So although the Glazer family felt a change was in the best interest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization, it is actually a man intent on not making many changes — at least not to his fundamental style and beliefs — that will now lead the Bucs into the future.
"I'm going to be Raheem Morris," said the Bucs' new head coach. "The atmosphere changes with the person. You deal with people how you deal with people on an everyday basis. That's what I plan to do. We're a family. The Glazers are a family. We're family-driven. That's how we work. We've always worked that way. [Co-Chairman] Joel [Glazer] said it the best — the Buccaneers are in my blood. I've been raised here. You guys raised me, all you guys.
"Around here, we don't talk about philosophies as much. Our philosophy is our core beliefs, it's our fundamental style of attack. That's who we are, that's who we'll always be and we'll stay doing that. We're going to stay the course. That's what we have to do to be great."