Buccaneers' Morris concerned with season finale, not job rumors

TAMPA, Fla. -- Amid speculation his job could be in jeopardy after just one season, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris insists his focus remains on trying to finish with a three-game winning streak.

The Bucs (3-12) rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the New Orleans Saints 20-17 in overtime Sunday. However, the surprising victory did little to dispel the notion that team ownership is considering another change.

The 33-year-old Morris became the youngest coach in the NFL last January, replacing Jon Gruden after Tampa Bay ended 2008 with four consecutive losses to miss the playoffs following a 9-3 start.

The Glazer family has not made any public statements on the status of Morris, nor have team officials commented on reports the Bucs are trying to gauge whether former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher might be interested in the job.

"I don't think Bill Cowher makes those decisions. I think our ownership does. ... I choose to laugh at or ignore some of the gossip," Morris said Monday, adding that he doesn't read anything into the silence of the Glazers.

"When was the last time you've seen one of my owners speak publicly? ... That's not what we do around here. We don't have to answer to the critics. That's not our job."

After dropping 12 of their first 13 games, the Bucs have beaten Seattle and New Orleans on the road for the team's first two-game winning streak in more than a year.

In addition to matching the second-biggest comeback in franchise history on Sunday, Tampa Bay didn't allow any points in the second half for the second straight week.

Although Morris thinks he has the team moving in the right direction, he stopped short of saying he believes the Bucs have improved enough to save his job.

The coach said he does not expect -- or need -- a vote of confidence from the Glazers to feel better about the prospects of returning in 2010.

"The Glazers don't do stuff like that. They come in your office and we talk all the time. They don't have to do that. That's not their job. They're the boss," Morris said.

"The assurance they gave to me is I've got to do my job tomorrow. When you're put in a position to coach a football team, you coach it. That's what you do until they tell you to stop. That's what I'm going to do now."

The Bucs close the season at home Sunday against NFC South rival Atlanta. Morris reiterated he plans to put all his energy into preparing for the Falcons, not worrying about whether he'll be back.

"This game is not for everybody. Not for the mentally weak, it's not for the soft, it's not for everybody," Morris said. "For me it's about production, going on the field and progressing. All the other stuff is gray matter. That's just messes you up for next week."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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