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Falcons announce completed interview with Raheem Morris

Morris was the Falcons interim head coach in 2020 before winning a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams as their defensive coordinator in 2021. 

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Atlanta Falcons have completed a virtual interview with Raheem Morris for the vacant head coach position, the organization announced on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Morris' is a name well-known to Falcons fans and in-house decision makers, as he was a part of Dan Quinn's staff from 2015-2020. Morris acted as interim head coach for the final 11 games of the 2020 season.

Since his time with the Falcons, Morris has won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams as their defensive coordinator.

Per NFL protocols, interviews with employees of other clubs must be conducted virtually prior to the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games on Sunday, Jan. 21. If the employer club had a Wild Card bye, virtual interviews had to be conducted prior to the conclusion of Wild Card games.

If the employer club was a Wild Card participant, virtual interviews could begin three days after its Wild Card game and must be conducted prior to the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games.

Beginning Monday, Jan. 22, clubs may conduct in-person or virtual interviews with candidates who are employed by other NFL clubs whose seasons have concluded and are prohibited from conducting initial interviews with candidates who are employed by clubs participating in the Conference Championship Games until the conclusion of the employer club's season.

Let's learn more about someone the Falcons are considering to become the 19th head coach in franchise history.

Interview date: Saturday, Jan. 20

Current job: Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator

Resume highlights:

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2002-2005: Morris held positions as the Bucs' defensive quality control coach before being promoted to a defensive assistant, and later to assistant defensive backs coach.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2007-2011 (second stint): Morris was hired as the Bucs' defensive backs coach before being promoted to head coach in 2009. He held the head coaching position until 2011.
  • Atlanta Falcons, 2015-2019: Held the position of assistant head coach and pass game coordinator before being promoted to wide receivers coach from 2016-2019. Morris was then promoted again to defensive coordinator in 2020. He was the Falcons' interim head coach for the final 11 games of 2020.
  • Los Angeles Rams, 2021-present: Morris is the Rams' defensive coordinator. The Rams won Super Bowl LVI in February 2022.

Falcons connection: As stated above, Morris has spent a good chunk of his career in Atlanta.

He was the Falcons pass game coordinator in 2015, before being promoted to the wide receivers coach in 2016. He was then promoted again to defensive coordinator in 2020, and when the Falcons parted ways with head coach Dan Quinn five games into the 2020 season, Morris took over as interim head coach.

During that 11-game stint, the Falcons went 4-7 and finished fourth in NFC South standings.

"He has the right kind of enthusiasm to lead the players in a positive way," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said of Morris when announcing him as interim head coach in 2020. "He's worked with our receivers; he understands that side of the ball well. He's been a defensive coordinator. He's very positive, he's ready to go.

"I know we made the right choice with Raheem and we'll see where he takes us. The players will definitely be supportive of him."

Why he's a candidate: A lot has changed within the Falcons organization since Morris was last in Atlanta.

For starters, salary-cap space is not an issue and the roster has been completely rebuilt from where it was in 2020. Morris would be taking over a completely new team than the one he left. He would only have a few holdovers from that 2020 season (namely Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews and A.J. Terrell).

The reason Morris would fit in Atlanta now is much the same as why he was named the interim in the first place three seasons ago. Morris is a respected coach with varying levels of experience.

Morris has been candid in the past that he didn't think he was ready for a head coaching position when he earned that title with the Bucs in 2009. That is not the case anymore, as nearly a decade and a half has passed, with Morris racking up experience as a defensive play caller head coaching with the interim job with the Falcons.

At every stop, Morris has garnered respect from players, too, showcasing an ability to connect with the people around him.

Because of this, his leadership, qualifications and previous history with the organization, Morris could be a top candidate for Atlanta.

Strikes against: The only strikes against Morris are the devil's advocate of his connection to the organization. Mainly, the Falcons have already had Morris in a head coaching position.

"If Raheem ends up 11-0, he's certainly going to be a candidate," Blank said when announcing Morris as the interim head coach in 2020. "I think it's to Raheem's advantage, I know his aspirations long-term is to be a head coach again. He has learned a lot since his Tampa Bay days, he's learned a lot with us. I think, with 11 games, he'll have a chance to show his own capabilities and I think he's looking forward to doing that."

The Falcons did indeed interview Morris for the job that ultimately went to Arthur Smith in 2021. So, what's changed between then and now? Quite a lot, actually, and there's the key counterpoint.

Morris has another Super Bowl championship to his credit, after experiencing one in 2002, when he was a defensive quality control coach with the Bucs. Also, the Rams have been to the playoffs in two of the last three seasons. While the Falcons roster is arguably more talented from top to bottom than it once was, it still has room to grow. A few names may carry over from 2020 to now, but little else.

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