Tampa, FL-- The first thing you notice, being in the same room with Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris, is they actually seem to like each other.
"He deserves executive of the year," said head coach Raheem Morris, about his general manager. "He deserves a contract extension (which he got), he deserves to be paid more, he deserves to be promoted as one of the better g.m.'s in the league..."
"One of the better?," joked general manager Mark Dominik.
" I don't want to say best, we haven't won a championship yet," ansered Morris.
Like a lot of people, they are uncomfortable talking about their personal role in the Bucs' 10-6 success story. But asked to talk about each other's role in the Bucs' record turnaround, they both opened up.
"I think the biggest thing was he taught a young team to believe in itself," said Dominik about his head coach. "And he taught the team the mentality before reality. We're the best in the NFC, the race to 10, all those things that a lot of people looked back at and said 'what's he doing?', were all parts of the ways to take this young football team and tell them their time is now. You don't have to wait to become great."
On the other side, talking about Mark Dominik was just as easy for Raheem Morris. Every player eligible for the 2009 and 2010 drafts, the GM and his staff had a handle on.
"They constantly evaluated these guys on other teams," said Morris, about his GM. "Whether they were on the street, whether they went back and got tape, whether they were on someone's practice squad, and he constantly added players to our roster, and constantly gave us depth, constantly tried pieces there, and he remembered everything we said... he looked back at his notes and he just filled spots for us. So when we had a guy get hurt or a guy go on IR, it was never a 'oh, woe is me' feeling... no matter how great the player was"
Now, does Morris expect Dominik to find a LeGarrette Blount every year?
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves," said Morris. "There's no difference this year. We're goining to pound away at the East-West Shrine Game, pound away at the Senior Bowl, and we'll pound away at tape."
"Richt now is not the time to settle on what we've done in the past," said Dominik. "10-6 is great but we all realized we wanted to make the playoffs. I challenge our staff to do it again next year. Let's go find a guy that someone else wants to let go, and let's continue to build this football team they way we started... through the draft, and rewarding our players who stay and building this nucleus."