Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dungy on head coaches: Change not always the answer
TAMPA - Through the chorus of boos, fan displeasure and calls for change at the top of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' power structure, Tony Dungy injected his sense of calm on Wednesday. During a trip to the News Center, home of The Tampa Tribune, News Channel 8 and TBO.com, the former Bucs and Indianapolis Colts head coach spoke about the state of the Bucs, who have lost seven consecutive games to fall to 4-9. First line of business, would Dungy consider coming back to the organization, either on the sideline or in a front-office capacity? "I've told people a long time ago, I'm done coaching," Dungy said, smiling. "Hopefully they believe that."Third-year Bucs coach Raheem Morris is enduring a rough season, a stark contrast to the 10-6 season of a year ago. Dungy knows the feeling. His first season with Tampa Bay wasn't so hot – a 6-10 record in 1996. But he followed that with three seasons of 10 wins or more, sprinkling in seasons with eight and nine wins. In six seasons, Dungy led the Bucs to the playoffs four times. "In '96, I got here, we started off and lost the first five and we went 6-10," Dungy said. "The tough thing is, everyone has questions about it, but you want to just stay the course and do what you believe in and keep building. "People don't want to hear that. They want quick fixes and sometimes there aren't quick fixes. It's a tough year. I don't think anyone expected this, but sometimes change is not always the best answer." The Bucs season began its spiral after a key victory against NFC South rival New Orleans on Oct. 16. The win gave Tampa Bay a short-lived share of the NFC South lead. Instead of catapulting the team to a promising season, it represents the most recent victory, turning an optimistic fan base into uneasy onlookers. "You have to do what you believe in and just hope you have the support of everybody involved," Dungy said. "It's tough when you don't win because that's what people are looking at. "They don't want to hear excuses. They don't want to hear we're building for next year, so you just have to go out and continue to try and get the guys to improve and play the last three games as well as you can and then see what happens." In three seasons, Morris is 17-28, going 3-13 in his first season. The sporadic success hasn't driven a wedge between the coach and his players. "We can't have anything happen to (Morris) – it would ruin the team," tight end Kellen Winslow said. "Rah is the heart and soul of this team. If something were to happen to him our hearts (would) be broken. We're playing for him."
Reporter Roy Cummings contributed to this report.