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Broncos interview Bucs’ Morris; Garrett, Dennison next

Jeff Legwold
Rocky Mountain News
Denver, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado “-After two days on the road to meet with prospective head coaching candidates, the Denver Broncos began their home schedule for the week as Buccaneers defensive coordinator Raheem Morris met with team officials Monday.

Morris, who was promoted to his current job just last month when longtime coordinator Monte Kiffin went to the University of Tennessee to join his son Lane’s Vols staff, is the third person to interview for the Broncos’ job.

“I’m just excited to be here,” Morris said upon his arrival in Denver. “. . . I’m ready to go meet everybody.”

At 32, Morris and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who interviewed with the team Sunday in Providence, R.I., are the youngest of the candidates to be interviewed in this first wave.

Morris, now in his second stint in Tampa, has been the Buccaneers defensive backs coach for the last two seasons as well as being the assistant secondary coach, defensive assistant and quality control coach during the 2002-2005 seasons. He was Kansas State’s defensive coordinator in 2006.

He got his start in the NFL as a coaching intern on Herm Edwards’ staff with the New York Jets in 2001.

Morris said he had studied the Broncos defense before his arrival and believed he was prepared for the interview.

The Broncos, who surrendered 298 yards rushing to the Chargers in the season finale in a 52-21 loss that knocked them out of playoff contention, finished 29th in the league in yards allowed per game and 26th or worse in every major defensive category.

“I got a chance to study them a little bit,” Morris said. “You always want to come prepared when you come in to meet with people . . . They’ve got a lot of potential, things they can do a little bit better, but everybody does. Hopefully, I can be the one to help them do it.”

Morris, who was expected to spend the day with several Broncos officials, including owner Pat Bowlen and chief operating officer Joe Ellis, got a ringing endorsement in recent days from the highly respected Kiffin, who said Morris “is ready, more than ready” to take charge of a team’s defensive fortunes. Veteran cornerback Ronde Barber has said publicly he believes Morris is a quality head coaching candidate.

Morris follows Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who interviewed Saturday night, and McDaniels. All three have at least some defensive background in the NFL.

McDaniels currently coaches the Patriots quarterbacks and call the plays on offense, but he started his career with the team as a defensive backs coach.

Today, the Broncos will meet with Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and their own offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.

If they continue to interview candidates beyond the opening five, Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier likely will come in the next round. He said Sunday, following the Vikings’ loss to the Eagles in the NFC wild-card game, that he is interested in the job.

Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan were on an initial list the team discussed but now appear unlikely to be interviewed.

For his part, Garrett, who also is currently the Cowboys’ assistant head coach, has the least NFL coaching experience of any of the candidates.

After a 12-year playing career, to go with a year as a Princeton assistant coach, Garrett has been an NFL assistant coach for four seasons.

The Cowboys made him the highest paid assistant coach in the league this past year – at $3 million – because team owner Jerry Jones wanted to keep him on staff with the idea Garrett would take over the team at some point.

Dennison has coordinated the Broncos’ highly successful running game in recent years and coached the offensive line as well.


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