Glazers could end Cowher talk, but won't
We'll pause for a moment while your head explodes and we wait for a simple, declarative sentence from the Glazers. Either tell us that Raheem Morris is coming back for a second season as head coach, or go sign Bill Cowher and let us know the parade route so fans can show up with confetti. Thus is the state of Buccaneers football after an extraordinary Sunday afternoon in New Orleans.
Why do I say that? I mean, the fact the Bucs rallied from a 17-point deficit and beat the Saints 20-17 in overtime at the Superdome would seem to end any discussion about Morris' job security. Maybe it did.
We won't know for sure until his bosses say so, though. They maintained their usual "no comment" after Internet reports from credible outlets said that Bill Cowher could be in the mix to succeed Morris - if, in fact, Morris needs succeeding.
No doubt, a lot of people were waiting for news like that. You had to figure it was only a matter of time until the Bucs were linked to one of the "A-List" available coaches to replace Morris. But that was before the Bucs played their collective backsides off at New Orleans. The sources for those stories probably didn't count on that.
They have won two straight with a chance to make it three in the final game next week against Atlanta. After they were blown out in their last home game by the Jets to fall to 1-12, who would have figured the Bucs would win consecutive games on the road?
The Bucs are playing hard for Morris. They are playing well for Morris, at least the past couple of games. Have they won enough for Morris, though? Only the Glazers can say so. But they don't.
Every minute they delay undermines him and casts doubt over just what they plan to do with this team. When there is silence, the void gets filled with opinion, analysis and flat-out guessing.
You start thinking that if the Glazers (or their designated representatives) "reached out" to Cowher, as NFL.com says they did, maybe they should keep reaching until he tells them no. As uplifting as beating the NFC's best team is, you don't base the future direction of your franchise on the outcome of one game.
The Bucs declined comment on that report, and who is surprised by that? Of course, the Glazers can't confirm the story because it would cripple Morris to have the owners courting another coach while the season is going on. And Cowher can't act like he's interested because he'd look like a vulture.
The other side is equally risky. If it comes out that Cowher wanted to come here but the Glazers stuck with Morris and he bombs next year, they'll never live it down. Yeah, there is that.
This is still a 3-12 football team, even if it is playing better. The worst thing any owner can do in a situation like this is be blinded by a little hot streak - if that's indeed all it is. I'm not trying to be unfair to Morris, nor am I saying he hasn't earned the right to come back next season.
I am saying that in the absence of any definitive statement by the Glazers that those reports just ain't so, we have to assume they're true. It may not be fair, but it's the world we live in.
I think we're all very interested to see how large the crowd is for the Falcons game next week, coming off a game like this. We do know that a coach of Cowher's caliber would set off excitement in this town that would rival the mood that accompanied Jon Gruden's arrival. Excitement translates to ticket and suite sales. That translates to money. That translates to victories.
I always felt that the most important thing for Tampa Bay's rookie coach was to have his team pointed in the right direction by the end of this season. Even his harshest critic would have to admit that's happening. Yes, they got a break Sunday when the Saints missed a chip-shot field goal at the end of regulation to win the game.
So what? It was still a win and it was a good one. Was it good enough for the Glazers? They could clear this up by simply opening their mouths. You know how it is, though. The simplest things are sometimes the hardest things to do.
Joe Henderson, The Tampa Tribune 29 December 2009