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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Q&A: Would a coaching change make any difference?

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Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 07:54 PM

Have a good question about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? The Tampa Tribune's beat writers - Roy Cummings and Ira Kaufman - will answer it.

Click here to send us your own question.

Answered Dec. 19:

Q: Being a Bucs fan since 1978, I think people need to be careful what they wish for and think before they open their mouths. The Glazers did keep the Bucs in Tampa, and they have won a Super Bowl. I am tired of people talking about all the big name coaches. Whatever happens, firing Raheem Morris or keeping him, I am a Bucs backer. I'm frustrated with the team, but a host of other NFL teams have been through coach after coach with no better results.

Michael Stephens, Lehigh Acres

A: I couldn't agree more. The Bucs have been very successful under the Glazers and, as Tony Dungy said, there is no guarantee that change will bring you what you want. Patience is a virtue that many fans and owners lack but need more of.

-- Roy C.

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Q: I'm a die-hard Bucs fan in the Atlanta area. We have a punishing running back in Blount that never seems to get to carry the ball. Is there a chance that we will fire Raheem, and hire Marty? I think we have the perfect team to play Marty Ball.

Jerome, Douglasville, GA

A: You're right about Blount not getting the ball enough. That's an issue that must be addressed. And yes, there is a chance Raheem will be fired and replaced, but I'm not sure which Marty you're talking about. Marty Feldman, Marty Schottenheimer or Marty, the character that won Earnest Borgnine an Academy Award?

-- Roy C.

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Q: After the Jaguars leave for Los Angeles, what city do you think the Glazers will pawn the Yucs off to? They care more about their soccer team than their NFL team.

George, Orlando

A: The Bucs aren't going anywhere. And I have yet to see one shred of evidence to suggest the Glazers care more about Manchester United than they do the Bucs.

-- Roy C.

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Q: I played high school football back in the 60's. I was taught that to make an open-field tackle you fix your eyes on the "belt buckle" until contact and then wrap up the person you are tackling. Over and over again I see Bucs players looking at the ground just before contact and missing a lot of tackles. Are the players being taught to use a different technique than what I was taught?

Phil, Dade City

A: I don't think the basic technique being taught is any different, but there is definitely less time devoted to teaching it than before. NFL teams seldom practice in pads and even when they do they don't tackle a player all the way to the ground. There is no question the art of tackling has been lost in this game and the Bucs are a team that has clearly struggled as a result of it.

-- Roy C.

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Q: Do you think the lockout played a key role in this year's collapse? Are ticket sales that bad that the Glazers have no choice but make a coaching change and pay two head coaches again?

Michael Stephens, Lehigh Acres

A: Many inside and outside the Bucs offices believe the Bucs were affected more by the lack of an offseason than any other team. The reason is that the Bucs had so many first and second-year players and those offseasons are critical to players at that stage of their careers. I have to believe that will be taken into account when the review of Morris comes at the end of the season. As for the ticket sales, the empties aren't significant enough to force a decision on the coach either way. The attendance now is about the same as it was a year ago and in the last years of Gruden's reign.

-- Roy C.

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Q: Raheem Morris has put all his eggs in one basket (or player: a quarterback) that was thrust into starting without a good backup.  Morris won't pull the kid out to see what the defense is doing to shake him up. I have seen head coaches removed for seasons like this. I support Morris but he is trying to do to much. He needs to focus on the game and allow his coaches to get the job done. Get a mentor quarterback in to assist the "kid" to learn. Morris is not capable of doing everything he is attempting to take on. What will it take to get an experienced back up quarterback in to help teach Josh? 

Alan Darr, Lakeland

A: Are you suggesting the Bucs scrap their rebuilding program and start to rebuild again? Sure seems like it. I can't believe that will happen, and I can't see them sitting Freeman, who seems to be the primary subject of your essay. The Bucs believe they have a mentor for Freeman in Alex Van Pelt, a former NFL QB who isn't all that far removed from his playing days. As for an experienced backup QB, the Bucs could be in the hunt for one this offseason, especially if Josh Johnson leaves via free agency. They could target a veteran, we'll just have to wait and see.

-- Roy C.

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Q: First, let me say I absolutely LOVE the Bucs! They've been my team since the came in the league when I was 8. I hate seeing them lose, but I won't abandon them - as long as they stay in Tampa! Now, why was Talib out of the game against Dallas and what was with those RIDICULOUS red socks?

Dale Mitchell, Nashville

A: First, let me say that I know the Bucs appreciate your loyalty. They probably need a few more like you at this point. Now, as for Talib, he aggravated that hamstring again early in the game and couldn't return. It's the second time in a month that he's tried to play a game and couldn't because of that injury. Don't be surprised if he doesn't land on IR (note: Talib did indeed land on injured reserve late Monday), though he will definitely fight that. The red socks are a growing trend on the team. The guys are wearing them a lot in practice and seem to like them. You may be seeing more of them the last two weeks.

-- Roy C.

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Q: I am angry about the picture on the front of the Bucs Bonus on Sunday. Ronde Barber is the veteran member of the team and he hustles on every play. He did not deserve to have this picture with his face in the ground on the front page of this section. Many other bad moments could have been featured. Where is the respect and loyalty for this player?

Sharon Bowman, Tampa

A: I can't speak for who chose the photo, but I am sure it was selected because Barber's expressions exemplified the feeling of the entire team in the wake of that loss. Thanks as always for reading and for the comments. We really do appreciate it.

-- Roy C.

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Q: Since we know a new head coach will be coming to town, it may be the end of the Tampa 2 defense. How much flexibility do we have with personnel? Is a 3-4 possible? How about Price at the nose with McCoy and Clayborn at the ends?  Foster and Haywood/Black as ILB with Bowers and Bennett as OLB. That would get McCoy, Price, Clayborn, Bowers, and Bennett all on the field at the same time which could create a great pass rush. I know our secondary would still need help, but that needs to happen either way. It seems the best defense turn arounds include a shift to the 3-4 (Houston, New Orleans, Miami, etc). Of course Haynesworth wouldn't be a fan of it.

Paul, Boston

A: Very good question. The Bucs have drafted their personnel to fit a 4-3 scheme, but they love flexibility and Raheem has been running a hybrid that includes a lot of 3-4 sets and principles. The secondary is already playing a lot more man and the Bucs may actually get more out of Quincy Black as a 3-4 end. Not sure McCoy would fit in such a scheme, which is why they may stick at most with a hybrid, but a switch is certainly possible. Certainly something needs to be done there.

-- Roy C.

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Q: During his time on the stage while taking questions Coach Morris repeadly puts a cup briefly to his lips. Is he sipping coffee or is spitting into the cup as in dipping snuff?

David Ray, Pasadena, Tx.

A: That's coffee. Raheem is not a smokeless tobacco guy.

-- Roy C.

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Q: What are the chances that the ownership allows GM Mark Dominik to hire some better coaches under Raheem Morris? It takes a village. I hope Raheem gets the real chance to coach, which means better coaches under him and maybe a defensive free agent veteran. Hopefully Ronde has one last season in him( being a backup of course). I think we need to add more than subtract from this team. I see a good core developing. The D-line showed improvement until McCoy went down. Price tried to step up and then blew up. This was just a learning year. We have our future leaders.

PA Bucsfan, Chester, Penn.

A: I believe the Bucs agree with a lot of your points, maybe even including bringing Raheem back with some changes in assistants. We'll have to wait on that, but it is a chance. Any coach would have been challenged to win with this team for the very reasons you state - it was a learning year. Barber may come back if Raheem comes back, but many believe he'll retire if Raheem is let go.

 

-- Roy C.

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Q: With our last humilating loss to Dallas, and all the fans calling for a coaching change, is there any coaching canidates out there that could fix this mess of a Tampa team?

Sidney Valentine, Tampa

A: I personally don't believe this team is as much of a mess as some others do. I just think it's young, inexperienced and immature. I think in time this will be a solid team again, but it needs some tweaks. Can a new coach make a difference? With the right personnel, yes. But with the right personnel, the same coach may make the same difference.

-- Roy C.

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Answered Dec. 15:

Q: It seems that all the comments that Morris' time in Tampa is coming to an end are forgetting a few things. (1) The Glazers financially are not in the best shape. (2) They are still paying next year Jon "Chucky" Gruden and Morris their salaries. These two factors lead me to believe no matter how bad it gets, Morris is here for one more year. This is the worst team I have seen since the franchise started. The team may not be that bad talent wise, but they truly look like they have given up - completely. To take the lead 14-0 and then commit an amazing seven turnovers to give Jacksonville, a team without a coach, without a QB, and unable to score more than 20 points all season more than 40 points is something amazingly bad. Still, despite all that, I think finances will potentially dictate that Morris is back for one more year - something few are talking about.

Sam Shukovsky, Wilton, Conn.

A: Believe it or not, I really don’t think the Glazers would hesitate to make a change, no matter the cost, if they felt it was going to get them the championship they desire. Winning brings a windfall of profits that would counter-balance the cost of having the right man in charge.

- Roy Cummings

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Q: I read some of the questions and most are very legit. But, what I did notice was that you writers are soft. You jokers have seen alot of football and you know that this coaching staff stinks. I have been watching football for 45 years. There is no way that this staff will learn overnight how to win. They wouldn't even with the number one pick. Help your readers and the Glazers out and find a real coach. You guys go to all the games and see practices, pick someone and relay it. They sign all these players from the broken toy pile hoping that someone threw a good toy away. There is a reason for most of the players being there. They mostly are garbage. There are no Micheal Irvins on the waiver wire. You have to draft and trade for good players, not sift through garbage. It's Christmas, and you wouldn't look for your wife's gift in a scrap pile.

Reginald Young, Tucker, Ga.

A: You're saying the coaching staff stinks, but also saying it can't win with a bunch of players pulled off the scrap heap. Maybe both points are true, but I don't think you can judge the true ability of this coaching staff until it gets a chance to coach a team full of mature, NFL-caliber players.

- Roy Cummings

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Q: We keep hearing that a lack of an off-season (program) is a major reason why the Buccaneers have regressed in 2011. What does the new collective bargaining agreement allow the teams to do going forward and can we expect a huge improvement for next year if the Bucs use the time to develop their players?

Rick Martin, Wimauma

A: There are many inside the walls at One Buc Place who believe the lack of offseason workouts hurt this young team more than most. Going forward, the team will have fewer offseason workouts than before but still enough to work on the kind fundamentals that are proving so costly.

- Roy Cummings

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Q: What is the possibility of the Bucs getting Mike Martz to be the next offensive coordinator? With his history, he could make watching these guys a bit more exciting.

Joe Sclafani, Sun City Center

A: It's possible. He's already said he's leaving the Bears, but my guess is he will want a head coaching job. The Bucs may be looking for one of those, too, so you never know. Not bad for a re-tread I guess.

- Roy Cummings

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Q: Why don't the Glazers ever come out and speak to the press about the team at the beinning or end of the season to address the fans' concerns and questions. They dont seem to be involved with the fans. We as fans never hear anything from them, but we deserve answers about the team's future.

Nate, San Diego, Calif.

A: The Glazers are actually more visible now than they were in the past. They now speak regularly at the owners meetings and before the start of the season at events such as FanFest, training camp night practices and Chamber of Commerce luncheons. They don't speak much once the season gets going because they don’t want to play general manager and coach in the media, so it is frustrating at times like this to not hear from them. My guess is we'll hear their take on this season soon enough - in one form or another.

- Roy Cummings

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Q: I see the Bucs progressing much as should be expected, really - they are making a lot of mistakes (penalties, turnovers, dropped balls, missed tackles, missed assignments). The talent is unquestionable on this team. There are some holes that need filling - outside LB, OL, speed WR - but the big change needs to be reducing (and eventually eliminating) the mistakes. Eliminate the turnovers against the Titans and Jaguars and we win those games. Like it or not, that will just take time and experience. There are too many fair-weather Bucs fans that want quick fixes - ask Philadelphia how well that's going. A couple of veterans will help the young guys learn, I agree, but where do you think those veterans should be added (taking the place of young guys or backing them up)?

Derek Strocher, Washington, D.C.

A: I agree with every point you made. I think this team is struggling most from a lack of maturity and I agree some vets need to be brought on board to help the kids out. The danger is that you don't want those players taking regular snaps away from key young players who need the playing time to learn and develop. That said, I think some veteran help at LB and WR would offer a big boost. Same at RB if Earnest Graham doesn't make it back from his Achilles' tendon injury.

- Roy Cummings

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Answered Dec. 12:

Q: With the play of Josh Freeman this year, do you think there's any chance of a more open position battle next year?  He seems to be making a lot of bad decisions and missing open receivers because he throws off his back foot too much.

Robert Woods, Jacksonville

A: I really doubt we'll see an open competition for the QB job. Not in training camp anyway. Freeman is the guy, and while he has struggled with some of his fundamentals and his decision-making this year, that's really all a part of growing as a QB. Some of the best QBs in the game - Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Brett Favre - had similar starts to their careers. The Bucs believe Freeman is getting better in some of the key intangible areas so it's a matter of refining the fundamentals. That comes from experience and he'll get all he needs.

-- Roy C.

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Q: It is time for a change. This coach stinks - you can't coach defense and still be a head coach.

Jerry Sandiford, E.  Hartford, CT

A: I'm not sure if it's time for a change or not, and the reason I say that is because I'm not sure any coach would have had a lot of success with this young and inexperienced lineup. The Bucs are going through some typical growing pains. One thing to be concerned about is the strong possibility that changing coaches will set the rebuilding process back. Patience may be a virtue this team has to exercise to achieve its goals in the time frame it originally hoped to achieve them.

-- Roy C.

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Q: I really don't believe in Freeman as the future. There is no way he should be playing this badly. We need to dump Freeman and draft another QB. He is playing just like he did his rookie year, if not worse. He is leading the league in interceptions - how can he be playing so badly? It makes no sense to me?

Tony, Tarpon Springs

A: The Bucs are not going to dump Freeman. He is their quarterback and he will be, barring an injury, for several years to come. Like most young QBs, he's struggling, but not solely from his own mistakes. The Bucs lead the league in dropped passes, he has no deep threat to spread out the defense and most of his receivers can't gain separation from their primary defenders. It's pretty hard to succeed when you're dealing with problems like that and even harder to succeed when you're almost always playing from behind. If the team were playing better around Freeman, he'd be playing better too.

-- Roy C.

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Q: What is going on in Tampa is not the fault of their head coach, Raheem Morris. It is the Glazers' fault for putting someone in a job that they were not ready for. Raheem would have been more prepared to lead a team if he had been a defensive coordinator for a few years (the job he was originally hired for). What should he have done - turn it down? I like Raheem and know he is doing his best and down the road will probably be a very good head coach for another team. In the last 15 years I can't remember the Bucs getting whipped like we have four times this season and we still have three tough games left. Just not ready!

Chris Burke, Nashville, TN

A: I think the biggest problem is that Raheem has been given a team full of players who just aren't ready to play their best ball yet and don't really know how to win at this level yet. That’s the word coming out of the locker room, where RG Davin Joseph on Sunday was the latest to say that the Bucs just aren't mature enough as a team to avoid and overcome the mistakes that are costing them games.

-- Roy Cummings

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Q: We have seen the potential of so many of the young Buc players. The lack of discipline and performance suggest character and commitment issues. Derrick Brooks would not have tolerated teammates that conduct themselves this way. Josh Freeman has attempted to lead.  Even if it turns out he has that in him, his own play this season has not given him a platform from which to lead. Ronde by himself cannot get it done. So, all that is left is the coaches...

David Osborn, Franklin, TN

A: Sounds like you're saying the Bucs are struggling, at least in part, from a lack of leadership. That's probably part of it. One of the things this team lacks in several areas is a veteran presence who can show younger players the way. They have that in some areas, such as the secondary and running back, but it’s missing in most others.

-- Roy Cummings

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Q: Let's throw a little love out to USF alum Jason Pierre-Paul for his lights-out performance against Dallas. With the Bulls having such a disappointing season, it's nice to see someone who wore green and gold do well.

Matthew Clark, Pinellas Park

A: Jason has certainly taken great advantage of the opportunity he's been given. I remember watching him at the Senior Bowl a couple years ago. Defensive line coaches were raving about his raw skill and ability. A lot of hard work and he's become a major impact player.

-- Roy Cummings

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Answered Dec. 6:

Q: The Glazers fired Coach Dungy after consecutive playoff appearances, and then they fired Coach Gruden, a coach who gave them a Super Bowl victory. Coach Morris hasn't done much of anything except loose fairly consistantly. At least Coach Dungy and Gruden put fans in the stands. If the Bucs continue to play this poorly for the remainder of the season do you think the Glazers will pull the trigger on Coach Morris or risk suffering through another disappointing season and blacked out games?

Bill Hyneman, Center Moriches, NY

A: There is still time for Morris to show he should be trusted to return in 2012, but the clock is ticking. The key factor is the young players on this team have to show improvement down the stretch. Young players are supposed to improve as the season goes on. Right now, it's tough for Morris to make the argument that this club is getting better with experience.

- Ira Kaufman

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Q: Is it time for Mark Dominik to have Coach Raheem Morris relieved of his defensive coordinator duties? I feel Rah is a good coach, but he could be a great coach if he was forced to focus only on being a head coach. What would be our options? Any chance the Bucs try and get Monte Kiffin back? We need to get back to old school Buc ball, these kids need more discipline and understanding of what their assignments are out there. We have to much talent to look this bad.

Jeremy Devon, San Antonio, Tex.

A: Morris doesn't want to give up his dual roles, but he may be given no choice. Remember, he has never been a defensive coordinator at the NFL level and it appears he has stretched himself too thin. I wouldn't expect Kiffin to come back to Tampa, but there will be alluring candidates to choose from if the Bucs go in that direction. A new coordinator can make a big impact - just look at what Wade Phillips is doing in Houston.

- Ira Kaufman

I can't imagine there will not be a high-level discussion about a possible change of defensive coordinators once the season is over. At the same time, I know that Raheem Morris believes he has a much better feel for the team as a whole while having his hand in a major part of it. And the decision to make him coordinator didn't seem all that bad down the stretch in 2009 and in 2010, when it was apparent that a lack of talent was the reason for the Bucs defensive struggles. That said, I think the Bucs have been grooming DBs coach Jimmy Lake to be a defensive coordinator and they probably don't want to lose him. One way to prevent that is to promote him. Could happen.

- Roy Cummings

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Q: We can put some of the blame on our coach and his staff not getting the players to play at a higher level. But I think the real blame is our owners who has show no commitment in building a winning team like they did in the pass. Not many coaches can win very many games with the level of talent on our team. The sad thing is it will take years to build this team.

Chris Pearson, Tampa

A: You’re right about one thing. It usually does take several years to build a winner the way the Bucs are going about it. I disagree about the owners, though. When the Glazers took over this team they rebuilt it the same way they are building it now - through the draft. When that team was ready to win they signed a couple of notable free agents and traded for a player or two and won a Super Bowl. My guess is they'll do the same as soon as this team is read to win. It's just not there yet. In a year or two, maybe, but not now.

- Roy Cummings

There are some bright spots amid the darkness. Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers have a lot of potential and getting Gerald McCoy back next season will help shore up a D-line with promise. Not adding a few free agents to upgrade some positions hurt this club. It was a free-agent class like no other and there were a lot of talented players available who were just entering their prime seasons.

- Ira Kaufman

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Q: Were the Bucs the only team that were locked out during the off-season? I thought all 32 teams were locked out and they don't seem to have problems with penalties, discipline and playing hard. In you comments last week the lock out was used several times as a reason for what is going on. Either Morris wasn't prepared to do the job or he doesn't have the staff to help him succeed. I think the Glazers need to pay to get a Jeff Fisher or a Bill Cower and get some buts back in the seats but if they do give Morris another year then a new offensive coordinator is a must. Pay the first-year O.C. from the Panthers to come to Tampa because he seems to know how to use his 6'6", 250 lbs QB and score TDs while ours is content kicking field goals.

Chris Burke, Nashville

A: To be fair, Raheem Morris hasn't used the lockout as an excuse, noting all 32 teams suffered the same consequences. The 49ers brought in a new staff and the lack of an offseason doesn't seem to have affected them in a negative way. The Buc organization has to be brutally honest after the season in evaluating what went wrong. Everything from the talent level to the personnel office to the coaching staff has to be examined. Unless things turn around in the final month, some major changes are on the way.

- Ira Kaufman

I'm sure the Bucs will take all of your suggestions under consideration. Be careful about that Jeff Fisher wish, though. Look at his record the last few years in Tennessee. There's a reason he's out on the street. You may find it there.

- Roy Cummings

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Q: How will the Bucs prevent this "Youngry" team from getting even younger as it did this season? Without veterans this team has no idea of how to be a PROFESSIONAL hence the huge drop-off and aimless behavior of an "Inexperienced Team" from top to Bottom.

Rahb, Riverview

A: I don't see as many starting positions being open to newcomers next year as there were this year, and you also have the natural progression of players who will be entering their second and third year. And who knows, they may even fill some holes with veteran talent through free agency.

- Roy Cummings

A: Don't expect the Bucs to remain the league's youngest team in 2012. At some point, that label is no longer something to be proud of, especially in the fourth year of a rebuilding program. It's impossible to quantify the value of having some veterans in key spots, but we are seeing the Bucs pay a steep price right now for all that youth.

- Ira Kaufman

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Q: Do you feel it's time for the Bucs to make a change with both Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris? I found it amusing that Morris ejects his own player for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty just weeks after he got one from the sideline. In over 30 years of watching NFL games I can't recall a head coach getting penalized like that. It appears he has lost complete control and the whole "players' coach" philosophy has failed.

To take it a step further, Dominik has relied on cheap players and particularly low character guys. He also is 100 percent sold on Josh Freeman, who is a character guy but not a franchise quarterback.

I am sad to see this state of affairs for my beloved Bucs.

Mark Digesare, Oviedo

A: When a young team faces adversity like a six-game losing streak, the lack of veteran leadership becomes acute. Positions like WR, LB and the D-line don't have players who have been through tough times and coaches can only do so much in keeping players focused when they are not having success. I can't agree with you on Freeman. He's having a bad season, but he has all the qualities you'd want at quarterback and he'll rebound with better players around him.

- Ira Kaufman

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Q: Simple question: Has Coach Morris lost the team?

Ken York, Portland, Ore.

A: We'll know that answer within the next four weeks.

- Ira Kaufman

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Q: Does this team really have as much talent as what is being said? I'm not really sold on our starting two receivers, our linebackers are below average, and why not throw a guy like an Ahmad Black out there and see what he can do?

Ron, St. Petersburg

A: I personally think this team is very talented in several areas. I particularly like the talent at QB, WR, DL and CB. Everywhere else things look a little shaky to me. The problem at WR is all the pass catchers are the same type of player. They need some speed there. That would help. Need some speed in the deep secondary as well. As Ronde Barber said, though; talent is not always what wins you games. Playing hard and smart can win just as often, and the Bucs haven't done that consistently enough.

- Roy Cummings

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