How bad was the 2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff?

TAMPA - JULY 31: Head coach Raheem Morris of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signs some autographs during Training Camp at One Buccaneer Place on July 31 2010 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

One narrative has reigned supreme among Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans this offseason: the Bucs will be better coached this season than they were in years before. One year after Raheem Morris was king of Tampa by guiding an injury-riddled and inexperienced team to a 10-6 record, he seems to have turned into a terrible coach who couldn't do anything right. But how realistic is that, really?

As with any coaching staff, there were some bad and good coaches among the Bucs last year. And it's hard to deny that Raheem Morris, at least, was inexperienced and seemed to not be ready for the job. But that doesn't mean that everything he did was terrible, yet that's the narrative that seems to have popped up this offseason. To justify the optimism, the new coaching staff has to be better than the last coaching staff - and that means that the old coaching stuff must have been horrible.

I don't buy into that narrative. Oh, sure, there were plenty of coaching-related problems last year, especially with the offensive approach. But was Keith Millard a terrible defensive line coach? Was Jimmy Lake a horrible defensive backs coach? Was it Pat Morris' fault that the Bucs' offensive line got worse throughout the year? I don't buy that. There were plenty of highly-touted coaches among the team's staff last season, and they weren't all failures just because they coached for a bad team.

It's too easy to blame the coaching staff for failures at various levels, because it offers us the erroneous belief that a different coaching staff will suddenly improve the play of many players. Let's not forget that this new coaching staff has a few big names, but a lot of small names as well. More importantly, the Bucs had to settle for second, third or fourth choices at various spots as they were turned down by coaches and blocked by teams from interviewing others. Is Bill Sheridan a defensive genius who will finally reignite the defense just through coaching? I have my doubts.

Ultimately, blaming the coaching staff for last year's troubles absolves the players from their own failures - and there were plenty of those. Player after player regressed last year, as they simply played poorly. Would Mike Williams, Myron Lewis, Ted Larsen and others have played better with a better coaching staff - or with this coaching staff? Or were they just not good enough, for various different reasons?

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