Everyone knows Fred Pagac is about to be out on his ear. What nobody knows yet is who will replace Pagac as defensive coordinator. But now we at least have a hint, maybe. Per Chris Mortensen, the Vikings will interview former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris for a “high-level defensive coaching position.” Morris has already interviewed with the Redskins for the defensive backs coach job.
Morris took the league by storm two years ago as coach of the Buccaneers, leading a rookie-laden Tampa squad to a 10-6 record and almost a playoff berth, but fell on hard times in 2011 and was ousted after a dismal 4-12 campaign. It is widely believed that Morris’ players flat-out gave up on him as the season progressed. The coach suffered lots of disciplinary issues over the course of the year, including a highly-publicized incident where he threw Brian Price off the sideline during a game. Besides being head coach, Morris also ran the defense for part of the year. Under Morris’ guidance the Bucs’ defense sagged to 21st in the league against the pass and an atrocious 32nd against the run.
Mortensen’s report leaves open the question of which defensive coaching job the Vikings are interviewing Morris for. The words “high” and “level” seem to suggest he could be up for the defensive coordinator job, but it’s also possible they’re interviewing him as a position coach. Given the problems Fred Pagac had with insubordinate players last year, it’s fair to question the wisdom of hiring a defensive coordinator who himself struggled with the problem of young players not respecting his authority. Then again, Morris didn’t have a head coach like Leslie Frazier above him in Tampa to deal with those disciplinary issues.
We’ll have plenty of time to digest a Morris hire when and if it happens. My first inclination is to be against this given the way things went in the toilet for Morris in Tampa but, like I said, he was under all sorts of different stresses then. Maybe as straight defensive coordinator he could get the job done. There’s also this: What does it mean for the defensive approach if they hire Morris, another Cover-2 guy? It means you can shelve all that 3-4 talk. Leslie Frazier has control over the coaching staff so whatever hire is made will be his choice. Leslie loves his Cover-2.