While the offseason has another month to go, it’s safe to say that offseason personnel and coaching moves are pretty much over. There might be a minor trade or a waiver wire pickup here or there but the cake is mostly baked.
So before training camp starts, let’s take a look back at the five biggest moves of the offseason. We’ll count them down in order of how important they were. Today, we look at the hiring of Raheem Morris.
Usually, when a team has 11 wins over two seasons there are some changes made to the coaching staff. One happened by attrition as linebackers coach Lou Spanos left after the season to become the defensive coordinator at UCLA. But there were more to come.
In Tampa, the Bucs fired head coach Raheem Morris hours after their season ended with their 10th straight loss. He had gone straight from defensive backs coach to head coach at the age of 32 and that appeared to be too much of a leap for Morris.
But he was an excellent position coach and possibly was ready to be a defensive coordinator. And he let it be known that he was not interested in taking any time off. Morris interviewed with the Vikings and Redskins within days of being fired.
Morris signed with the Redskins as their secondary coach on Jan. 11 (although the team did not formally announce the move until Jan. 23). There are reports the the Vikings offered him their defensive coordinator job the day after the signed on with the Redskins. Although the Redskins likely would have let him out of his contract in order to take the coordinator position, he elected to stick with his commitment to the Redskins.
As the news of Morris’ hiring came out it was reported that the Redskins had fired two coaches. Safeties coach Brian Jackson and wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell were shown the door.
The departure of Jackson still left an awkward situation for the Redskins. Bob Slowik, a longtime assistant under Mike Shanahan, was the cornerbacks coach. The secondary had been split between two coaches since Joe Gibbs’ second stint as head coach. But just working as the safeties coach was too big a step down for Morris.
The solution was to move Slowik to coach the linebackers in place of the departed Spanos and put the entire secondary under Morris.
Morris has already brought some fire and enthusiasm to the field and he routinely talks trash with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. That’s all well and good but his main job is to coach up a secondary that routinely is among the league’s worst in interceptions and has some issues with tackling from time to time. With the Redskins facing Eli Manning, Mike Vick, and Tony Romo twice a year (along with top-notch receivers on those teams) as well as seeing the likes of Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger on their schedule, solid secondary play is vital.
Morris and the Redskins have an agreement that he can take a defensive coordinator position next year if he is offered one. Turning around Washington’s secondary would be a nice feather in his cap if he wants to move back up the coaching ladder.