The Atlanta Falcons have made a surprising move in hiring Raheem Morris as their new head coach. This decision marks a significant departure from their usual hiring practices, as Morris becomes the first former NFL head coach that owner Arthur Blank has brought in during his ownership tenure. The Falcons had an extensive search, considering 14 candidates, including big names like Bill Belichick and Jim Harbaugh. However, they ultimately decided to go with Morris, who previously served as the team’s interim coach for 11 games in 2020.
For Morris, this is a return to familiar territory. After his interim coaching stint with the Falcons, the team opted to hire Arthur Smith as their full-time coach. However, after three years and Smith’s recent firing, the Falcons have now turned to Morris to lead the team. This decision speaks to the confidence the organization has in his abilities and his understanding of the team’s culture and dynamics.
Morris, 47, brings a wealth of experience to the Falcons. He spent the past three seasons as the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator, even winning a Super Bowl with the team in 2021. Prior to that, he served as the head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009 to 2011, where he compiled a record of 17-31. Morris then had a stint with the Washington Football Team as their defensive backs coach before joining the Falcons as a coordinator and eventually as the interim head coach.
Building on Talent
As Morris takes the helm, he inherits a team with promising defensive players such as second-team All-Pro safety Jessie Bates III, cornerback A.J. Terrell, and defensive lineman Grady Jarrett. On the offensive side, the Falcons boast talented skill-position players, including tight end Kyle Pitts, receiver Drake London, and running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier. Additionally, key offensive linemen Jake Matthews and Chris Lindstrom were with the team during Morris’ previous tenure.
One of Morris’ immediate challenges will be resolving the team’s quarterback situation. Taylor Heinicke and Desmond Ridder remain on the roster, but Blank has been critical of the team’s quarterback play, which was a contributing factor to Smith’s dismissal. Morris will need to evaluate the available options and determine the best approach to improve the team’s performance in this crucial position.
Now that Morris has been hired, he will likely shift his focus towards assembling his coaching staff. One potential candidate for the offensive coordinator role is Zac Robinson, the Rams’ quarterbacks/pass-game coordinator. League sources have indicated that Robinson is a strong contender for the position. However, Morris is expected to explore multiple options and conduct thorough interviews before finalizing his staff.
The Atlanta Falcons have taken a bold step in choosing Raheem Morris as their head coach. While the decision may come as a surprise to some, the organization clearly sees the value in Morris’ experience and his understanding of the team. With promising talent on both sides of the ball, Morris has an opportunity to build upon the foundation and lead the Falcons to future success. The challenges ahead, particularly in resolving the quarterback situation, will undoubtedly test Morris’ leadership abilities. However, his proven track record and familiarity with the team’s dynamics bode well for the Falcons’ future under his guidance.