Raheem Morris has been tabbed as the interim head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, and he got his first opportunity to speak with the media in that official capacity on Tuesday. Sitting in an 0-5 hole with the chance to make an impression on owner Arthur Blank, Morris shared how he was remaining focused and keeping his team focused.
A former head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris has a high level of energy and a good relationship with players on both sides of the ball. But, like many coaches, he's taking a one-game-at-a-time approach.
"I'm the head coach right now of the Atlanta Falcons; I've got 11 games guaranteed to do that," Morris said on Tuesday. "As a coach, fortunately for us, we focus one game at a time. Our job is to go out and win one game and go 1-0 for the next 11 weeks.
"I am completely focused on the Minnesota Vikings and how to get our win against the Minnesota Vikings this week, because the Minnesota Vikings don't care about me going 11-0. They care about trying to get a win against us. And we're trying to get a win against them, period."
In a piece for ESPN, Vaughn McClure wrote in greater detail about Morris's message to the Falcons and his approach moving forward for the rest of the season.
Morris wants Falcons to impose their will
As he now takes over the team, Morris is molding them into the version of the group he would like to see. He spoke about the need for coaches to identify the problems with this team and for the players to correct them, which Morris hopes will begin this week against Minnesota. More importantly, though, as D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote about for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Morris wants Atlanta to impose its will on opposing teams.
"We have to be able to go out, we have to be able to execute," Morris said Tuesday. "We have to be able to do better. When you're in this league, it is a privilege to be a part of a team and there's no doubt about it. When it's a privilege to be a part of a team, you have to make it happen, you have to believe it and you have to expect it. The only way to do that is to go out and force my will on my opponent. … At the end of the day, we have to find a way to put our foot on people's throat in games. That's what's got to happen."
The future of Matt Ryan
During his discussion with the Atlanta media on Monday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank expressed that the decision making with regards to the team's roster would largely be left to whoever becomes the next general manager and head coach. He was specifically asked about quarterback Matt Ryan, and while Blank expressed his love for the 35-year-old quarterback he again said that was a decision he wasn't going to make.
That response has unsurprisingly caught the attention of many in the national media, including CBSSports.com writer Will Brinson. Brinson laid out some of a various routes the Falcons could go if they ultimately did decide for a complete change that included their quarterback.
"Flat-out cutting Ryan isn't going to happen, most likely," Brinson writes. "Although he could be designated a post-June 1 cut and it would limit the Falcons dead cap exposure in 2021. They would save $17.5 million in cap space in 2020 by releasing Ryan and making him a post-June 1 cut. More likely -- a trade. Dealing Ryan would save the Falcons $23 million in cap space next year and potentially net them some draft picks in return, depending on who is making the trade."
Falcons must be open to full rebuild following firings
Another person who noted the possibility of a full overhaul in Atlanta after Sunday's moves was NFL.com columnist Judy Battista. While she's not necessarily pushing for that to happen, she does believe it must at least be considered. She agreed with president and CEO Rich McKay's notion that the team shouldn't "tie the hands" of their new general manager and coach with the roster and not take anything off the table for them.
"The Falcons shouldn't slam the door on moving other assets, too," Battista writes. "A Miami Dolphins-style roster deconstruction might seem unappealing on paper, but teams that accumulate bountiful assets can accelerate their rebuilds with smart hiring and good draft decisions. [Julio] Jones would surely be attractive to a contending team right now. The Falcons have to at least listen if someone calls. It is trading short-term pain -- a sell-off would almost certainly torpedo interim coach Raheem Morris' chance to win the job full-time -- for the potential of long-term, sustained gain."
Atlanta cleaned house to start anew
By moving on from Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons are taking their franchise in a new direction. If the new people in charge don't believe a full rebuild is needed, the Falcons do have several quality players for them to build around. Riley McAtee noted as much in his piece for The Ringer.
"Whoever the team taps to take over for Dimitroff will have a similar challenge," McAtee writes. "Quinn is correct that a lot of the ingredients are right. Ryan is still one of the league's better quarterbacks. Wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley make up one of the better pass-catching duos in the NFL, especially with Ridley emerging as a bona fide star this season. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett also made the Pro Bowl last season. Large portions of this roster need to be overhauled—including most of the defense—but this team is not tanking for Trevor Lawrence. It's looking to reload with Ryan and Co. and ultimately, the new coach and general manager Atlanta hires will have the same task: give this franchise a fresh start."
More headlines for Falcons fans
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- AtlantaFalcons.com: Everything to know about Vikings
- AtlantaFalcons.com: Morris named interim head coach
- CBSSports.com: Week 5 NFL grades
- NFL.com: What we learned from Sunday's games
- AJC.com: Blank hopes to reset franchise on winning path
- AJC.com: Falcons' Webster to help with personnel
- AJC.com: Falcons players supported Quinn till the end
The Atlanta Falcons have announced Raheem Morris as interim head coach.