Tampa Bay Team Report Week 12

Roy Miller (Getty Images)

Read on to find out the latest about Jim Bates role with the team, why some players are excited to swith back to the old defensive scheme, who the newest members of the Buccaneers are and more about offensive coordinator Greg Olson's contract extension.

From a distance, the Bucs organization under Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik looks disorganized.

They have made bad decisions and have paid a high price with a 1-9 record, tied with the Rams for the worst in the NFL.

But if Morris is in danger of being a one-and-done coach, he's going down with more control.

On Monday, Morris decided to relieve Jim Bates of his duties as defensive coordinator and will take over the play-calling on defense.

What affect that has on Sunday's game at Atlanta remains to be seen.

The Bucs defense ranks 26th overall in the NFL and last against the run. But players were careful not to heap the blame on Bates or his scheme.

"Right now, we're going through some trying times. Right now, we're going through some adversity," defensive lineman Chris Hovan said. "But it's for us to come together individually, collectively as a group to get through this.

"Should one be to blame? No. Nothing is to blame. At the end of the day, we didn't get enough wins and right now there's changes because of it. That's the facts of life right now."

Bucs rookie defensive tackle Roy Miller, who played a similar one-gap scheme at Texas, said he was excited to see what he could do in the Tampa 2.

"This is what I've done in college and made a lot of plays doing it," Miller said. "It also helps us to get off on the pass rush, too. I'm just excited. I couldn't be more excited. I dreamed of coming here. Warren Sapp, all those guys played in this type of defense and just excited to be a part of that.

"Just looking forward to going out there and seeing what I can do in this defense."

Linebacker Geno Hayes, who was drafted out of Florida State to play the old system, believes the Bucs will see an improvement in their run defense. It also will take advantage of his speed at linebacker.

"It's going to be real good, we're going to have more plays to make on the run and the backers can be more involved. It's going to be good," Hayes said. "It kind of simplifies things for the back guys who have to make all the run fits and you don't put a lot of pressure on your defensive tackles to make a lot of two-gap plays. It's going to be good for us. We're going to take this week, the extra days we have to get it right."

Linebacker Barrett Ruud, who leads the team in tackles, said the Bucs won't be able to make a total overhaul of Bates' system in a week. He said he was hopeful the switch back to elements of the old system will improve the defense.

"It's tough to say. Obviously, we're 1-9 and we've been struggling," Ruud said. "Hopefully a change will provide some good things. Is it the right move? It remains to be seen. We're going to go in and play and hopefully it turns out to be the right move because we need to get some wins, 1-9 is definitely not good enough.

"One and nine is a wild ride. Everything is very easy when you're winning all your games. I'm sure the New Orleans Saints think life is very good right now. It's very easy. When you lose, you learn about character. You learn about the guys that are going to play through a lot of adversity. That's one thing our team has never lacked is effort. We haven't executed very good, but the effort has always been there."

Offensively, rookie quarterback Josh Freeman will try to bounce back from his first real taste of adversity. After leading comebacks in each of his first two starts against the Packers and at Miami, Freeman threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in a 38-7 loss to the Saints.

Moreover, Freeman was off-target on many of his throws and put his team in a big hole.

Those kinds of experiences can take a toll on a young quarterback, but Freeman doesn't appear phased by it. We'll see Sunday.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Ousted defensive coordinator Jim Bates still is deciding whether to remain with the Bucs in a consulting capacity.

Coach Raheem Morris relieved Bates of his duties Monday and will be responsible for calling the Bucs' defense.

Bates, 63, has been extended an opportunity to remain with the team in an advisory role, breaking down film and possibly assisting on game day from the coaches' box.

But Bates has no on-field responsibilities in practice or at games and he is currently not expected to accompany the team to Atlanta for Sunday's game.

It's possible Bates may elect to leave the Bucs by next week, but there has been no decision.

"It's the same as it was yesterday and we'll just leave it at that," Morris said.

--Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson's contract was extended by a year to run through the 2010 season. But the deal was done long ago, in September, not long after he was promoted from quarterbacks coach.

After Jeff Jagodzinski's abrupt firing in late August, the Bucs moved to bring Olson's salary in line with his new duties. The team also extended it by a year as his deal was set to expire after this season. Most of the team's assistant coaches are under contract through next season. The revamped deal simply brought Olson in line with his colleagues on the staff.

"This was something that was settled months ago," Olson said. "I did sign an extension, yes."

Olson said he was a bit regretful of the timing of the disclosure of the news because it came just as the team was announcing that defensive coordinator Jim Bates was being relieved of his duties.

Though the move wasn't made solely for the benefit of QB Josh Freeman, he does stand to be a benefactor of this decision. Quarterbacks who work under numerous coordinators early in their career historically don't see great results.

"There's just so much to learn at that position that it helps, obviously, to have continuity," Olson said.

Morris said the continuity with retaining Olson will help Freeman.

"Any time you're lucky enough to have a guy that's as sharp as he is, talking about quarterback development and quarterback play, and also have the kind of relationship he can have with Freeman and all the guys," Morris said, "That's been a great move all year."

--The Bucs hit the road for four of their next five games and have to hope the road doesn't hit back. Tampa Bay plays at Atlanta on Sunday.

"The NFL is always tough," Morris said. "By the time you look up you're 1-9 and you've got to figure out how to get better. That's just what I'm doing right now. You can't worry about how tough the stretch is, how tough the road is ahead of you."

BY THE NUMBERS: 168.9 -- The average rushing yards per game the Bucs have allowed. They're last in the NFL.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The building is not collapsing." -- CB Ronde Barber on the chaos at One Buc Place.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Bucs continue to raid the practice squads of other NFL teams. Tampa Bay signed WR Terrence Nunn from the Patriots practice squad and QB Rudy Carpenter from the Cowboys practice squad.

The Bucs placed QB Byron Leftwich (right elbow) injured reserve and released CB Mike Mickens.

PLAYER NOTES

--LB Barrett Ruud did not practice Tuesday due to a rib injury. Ruud is expected to play Sunday at Atlanta.

--TE Kellen Winslow (knee) did not practice Tuesday but is expected to play against the Falcons.

--QB Byron Leftwich was placed on I.R. with a right elbow injury, ending his season. Leftwich was 0-3 as a starter.

--RB Earnest Graham is expected to return to fullback this week. He rushed three times against the Saints for 31 yards.

INJURY IMPACT: LB Barrett Ruud (ribs) and TE Kellen Winslow (knee) were limited in practice Wednesday. Both are expected to play in Sunday's game at Atlanta.

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