Head Coach Raheem Morris is pleased with the direction the offense is taking but is looking for more direction and precision
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a significant change to their coaching staff on Thursday, 10 days before the beginning of the 2009 regular season. Jeff Jagodzinski, originally hired as the team's new offensive coordinator on January 29, was dismissed and Quarterbacks Coach Greg Olson was elevated to that position.
Head Coach Raheem Morris and General Manager Mark Dominik chose to make the move on Thursday in order to give the reconfigured coaching staff one final preseason game to work together before the start of the regular season. The Buccaneers will play host to the Houston Texans at Raymond James Stadium on Friday night.
Still, the timing of the moves so close to the arrival of the Dallas Cowboys on September 13 left Morris answering a series of questions regarding the direction of the team when he made the announcement at noon on Thursday. Morris emphasized that the change at offensive coordinator has not disrupted the team's overall plan or expected progress.
"When you talk about being in chaos you talk about not having a plan," he said. "The plan has not changed. We're still a zone-blocking scheme led by [Offensive Line Coach] Pete Mangurian and how heavily influential he was with our running attack. We're talking about a different direction with our passing game a little bit, more vertical threat, more vertical balls down the field. We're talking about going with Greg Olson, getting more input from [Wide Receivers Coach] Richard Mann, leaning on some of those guys very heavily. We're very positive with that direction and where we're going with that, and it's not a knock on Coach Jagodzinski. It's just what we needed to do, the plan we needed to have, and a lot of things remain the same. This offense was going in the right direction and you've got to give Jagodzinski credit. He did get it started going in the right direction; now we've got to finish off the deal with some of our other guys."
Morris also responded to questions regarding what the team needs to get from its offensive coordinator, how the players responded to the news, and more. Excerpts from that press conference follow.
On if the proximity of the decision to the regular season puts the team in danger of not being ready for the opener: "It would be that way if we were bringing in someone new. The fundamental core beliefs of offense are exactly the same. The direction and where we are going from here and how much we plan on growing is what is going to be new."
On if there will be a change in the dynamics with Olson as the offensive coordinator: "These guys had it going together for a long time. Pete's always had a heavy influence since he's been here. Olson's had a heavy influence since he's been here. Now they have an opportunity to have more of an influence. The direction is what is going to change and how we get to where we want to get to is going to change. The precision, the details that we were missing a little bit is going to get where we wanted to get to with Greg Olson taking over and Pete Mangurian, so that's what we're looking for."
On how the team will benefit from Olson being the offensive coordinator: "When you're talking about Greg, you're talking about a highly-intelligent, smart human being that's been coaching quarterbacks for a long time. He's called plays in this league for awhile. [He's] been back and forth, been through the grind, been through everything we need to get done, knows where we want to go, very detailed coach, very precise coach and that's where we want to go on offense if we're going to have any success."
On what was missing from Jagodzinski's efforts as the coordinator: "Coach Jags came in and I've got a lot of respect for Coach Jags and what he did, the effort he put into his work. But we're at the point now [where] we need to be more precise, we need to be more detailed and we need to have more direction for where we're going to go, and I just didn't have it right now for whatever reason. That's about as detailed as I can get on it."
On when he began considering this move: "Since we've been together, all our staff members, we're all accountable. We've got high expectations. We've been in constant evaluation of everybody, constant evaluation of our organization just in general, the whole time."
On when he first got a feeling that Jagodzinski was not the right person for the job: "Like I said, it's a constant evaluation throughout the process. As you go, you want to create the most dynamic staff you can. So if you get an opportunity to bring a guy like Jeff Jagodzinski in when you already have Greg Olson on your staff and you bring in Pete Mangurian and you've got Richard Mann...you bring all these guys in. You want to put them together, you want to get them all in the crock pot and get them going, coursing a direction. We needed more direction, we needed more precision and I wasn't getting it at the time. So you make the change, and that's where we are."
On if he can define what he means by the precision and direction that is needed: "[It's] where you want to go now. We've got what we got implemented in. We got the zone scheme in, we got our vertical passing game in, we've got everything we've got going on. Now what's next? Where do we want to go? What are the variables off the situations? What are we going to do off of that? How are we going to do it off of that? What's the plan? Who's in charge of this? Who's in charge of that? How are you going? Just those things — that's what you're talking about when you talk about direction. It's me being a leader of this football team and planting us where we need to go."
On if the players had input in the decision: "No. Our players…we're all held accountable. We've got very high expectations, all of us. The players don't make those decisions; the players have nothing to do with that. They understand. That's the nature. That's where we are."
On if he and Jagodzinski were on the same page on the decision to make Byron Leftwich the starting quarterback: "Yeah. Again, that had nothing [to do with it]. Everybody's on the same page with that. We all came to a common accord last week when we made Byron Leftwich our quarterback."
On how disruptive the change is to the players: "There's really no disruption amongst the players. The same guys are in place. The guy that's in charge of the running game is Pete Mangurian. He's still here, he's still lead dog, he's still changing everything he needs to get changed, he's still doing whatever he wants to get done. Now he may have a higher role. Now he does have a higher role. Greg Olson is now giving us direction. He's being more precise with where we want to go, what we want to get done. So he has a higher role. The players are all familiar with what we've got going on. The players are all familiar with what's going on, how we're going to do it, and they're ready to jump in and roll. Again, like we do with everything around here, I present it to my team in a team meeting first."