DANA POINT, Calif. — What’s the reason for the infusion of younger head coaches in the NFL?
Thirty-two-year-old Raheem Morris, the new coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a simple answer: Blame it on John Madden. But that’s not because Madden himself was 32 when he became coach of the Oakland Raiders in 1969.
“Ever since he made that (video) game, everybody thought they could be a coach,” Morris said during this morning’s NFC coaches-media breakfast at the league meeting. “You’ve been creating your own team, you’ve had your own fantasy leagues, you’ve been doing salary caps since you were 12. He ruined the league for the older coaches.”
How much Madden football did Morris play as a youth?
“Are you kidding me?” he said. “I majored in it in college (Hofstra University).”
Morris touched on other topics as his plate of sausage and eggs got cold:
- The moment the reality set in that he was a head coach and no longer an assistant: “The first day’s the honeymoon, the (introductory press conference), everybody loves you. The second day, you’ve got to fire and hire coaches. Those guys (he fired) are my friends, guys I respect. The day you’ve got to make a decision on your players is a tough one. And then the first meeting of your offseason program. That’s big. I had 66 guys sitting in front of me. You establish your boundaries, your rules … you set the standard. That was a change, that was kind of the moment. I was lucky enough to have Coach (Jon) Gruden let me get in front of the team before and talk with the whole group, so it was nothing new. But it was different (to do so as head coach).”
- Coaching an entire team as opposed to only the defensive backs he guided for the Buccaneers through last season: “Call it naive, call it young, I don’t know, but this is how I’m looking at it: I had 15 (defensive backs) before. Now I’ve got 66 DBs sitting in front of me, and I’m going to approach it like that. All my DBs have always been competitive. They’ve always done what I’ve asked, I’ve always messed around with them in the locker room, I’ve always been demanding, and they’ve responded. You tell (a veteran such as cornerback) Ronde (Barber) the same thing you told him before, ‘I’m going to tolerate you until I can replace you.'”
- His wide-open quarterback situation: “We have three guys on our roster– two young guys (Luke McKown and Josh Johnson), both unproven, and an older guy in Brian Griese. We want to add a fourth for competition, and however that comes, draft or whatever. Nobody knew who the hell Matt Cassel was until Matt Cassel got an opportunity. We’ve got two young guys who can have an opportunity if they beat out Brian Griese or whoever this fourth guy is. I’m evaluating every day, everything they do, from (organized team activity) days to minicamps, obviously into the preseason. You make that decision (going into) your third preseason game. Usually, that’s when you make it. If it goes a little longer because I’m not ready yet, then that’s what we’re going to do. If it happens before that, it happens before that.”