Sunday’s game will mark a homecoming for Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris, who spent eight seasons of his professional career in Tampa Bay.
Morris in 2002 broke into the NFL coaching ranks as a defensive quality control assistant and worked his way up to assistant defensive backs coach in 2004 and 2005. After one season as defensive coordinator at Kansas State, Morris returned to Tampa as defensive backs coach in 2007 and 2008, and then earned the head coach’s position in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Fired in January following a 4-12 campaign, Morris was hired by Washington to coach the defensive backs a couple of weeks later.
He has been charged with upgrading a unit that produced only 10 interceptions in all of 2011. The Redskins’ struggles have continued through the first three weeks of the season, and Morris said fixing Washington’s problems have consumes his thoughts more so than facing his former team.
“A lot of people in this game that I had a lot to do with coming to Tampa, and knowing these guys, it’s always emotional. … I’ve got a lot of good guys there,” Morris said. “But it’s the Washington Redskins going in to try to get a victory to make us 2-2 at the end of this first quarter, so that’s the most important thing. … My motivation right now is to be 2-2 as the Washington Redskins.”
Morris said he does think fondly of his time in Tampa, and although he was fired, he doesn’t have hard feelings toward Buccaneers ownership or management.
“I had a lot of fun in Tampa,” he said. “I came in as a quality control coach, worked my way up to a defensive assistant, going to an assistant coach to a coordinator to a head coach, you can’t help but have a bunch of memorable and quality experiences with a bunch of different people from there. There’s no ill will.”
The Redskins have struggled against the pass this season, giving up 1,012 yards and 10 touchdowns through three games. The secondary has also allowed 13 pass plays of 25 yards or more thanks to blown coverages, tackling errors and communication problems.
“It hasn’t really been mental errors. We had a couple execution errors,” Morris said. “Anything that’s going to happen mentally, I’ll take accountability for that. … I’ve definitely got to do a better job for that, and we’re all accountable for that. We know that in our room. That’s part about being a secondary. Every play is the next one. You’ve got to get better. That’s part of coaching it, part of playing it, and I’ll be right there in the barrel with my guys as we come out this week and see what we can do.”