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Question of the Week: What questions do you still have after Raheem Morris' introductory press conference? 

Tori McElhaney, Terrin Waack and Amna Subhan discuss. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons have their head coach. A new era is upon us in Atlanta. So, I know you know what this actually means.

That's right: Question of the Week is back, y'all! 

OK. So, for those of you who don't know what Question of the Week is, let me give you the rundown. (If you do know what this series is, just disregard the next paragraph). 

Every offseason, the editorial staff for picks a topical question to answer every Wednesday afternoon. Once that question is picked, each member of the staff will write out a short rebuttal or answer to said question in roundtable form. It could be anything from top free-agents targets to positional needs the Falcons face to the biggest challenges ahead. Honestly, anything and everything in between. The world is our proverbial oyster.  

And that's it. Pretty simple, right? 

Well, to kick off the first of many Question of the Week installments, Tori McElhaney, Terrin Waack and Amna Subhan answer the following question. (And yes, it's a question that has another question as an answer. Little bit of a brain teaser for you.) 

Without further ado: What question do you still have after Raheem Morris' introductory press conference last Monday?


Terrin Waack: Can Raheem Morris produce the Falcons' desired results?

Morris proved he can talk the talk – his infectious energy was on full display last Monday, as Tori recently wrote – but only time will tell whether Morris can walk the walk.

His track record is what it is, going 17-31 in his three seasons as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach from 2009-11 and also 4-7 in his 11 games as the Falcons interim head coach in 2020. A lot of time has passed since each of those gigs. So, there is a very good chance he has learned and grown from then on through a variety of experiences with different teams and coaching staffs. I even wrote about that.

What I keep circling back to is the fact that actions speak louder than words. Morris essentially said the same thing: "It's less about telling people what's going to be different. It's more about showing people what's going to be different."

OK, show me. Show all of us – believers and doubters. Because there are certainly both out there, if X/Twitter is considered a fair representation of public opinion. 

Morris wants the Falcons to win the NFC South. Do that then. Make the playoffs for the first time since 2017, when he was last in Atlanta. Or, at the very least, compile a winning record for the first time in the same seven years. Either would be a step in the right direction, obviously one more so than the other.

Also, I am well aware that charisma was basically my must-have quality for the new head coach in a roundtable we did back on Jan. 11. I still fully back that sentiment and am happy the Falcons decision-makers listened to my stance. (They definitely did not; purely coincidental). But now that Morris has proven he checks that box, I am moving forward and looking toward the 2024 season itself. Again, he can talk the talk. Can he walk the walk? That answer is honestly the most important.

Behind the scenes of Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris facility tour at Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Ga. On Tuesday, February 6, 2024. (Photo by Jay Bendlin/Atlanta Falcons)

Amna Subhan: How seamless will this collaboration be? What will it amount to?

At Morris' introductory press conference, we heard words like "vision" and "mentality," but we especially heard "collaboration" used frequently by both Morris and general manager Terry Fontenot. 

But what exactly does that mean? 

We know that Morris and Fontenot will work together and report directly to Falcons owner Arthur Blank instead of AMBSE CEO Rich McKay. That new dynamic was laid out in the team’s release following the news of Morris' hiring.

Since Morris was last a head coach 15 years ago with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — as Terrin detailed — Morris feels he's learned about what it takes to do the job right. Even since he was last with the Falcons in 2020, he said he's learned a lot.

"Now coming back (to the Falcons) and being a part of the collaboration, that shared vision… I think it's the things that help us move forward," Morris said. "I'm fully prepared. I've been preparing for this since my last day in Tampa." 

It seems, to me, like what he's learned is how to operate as a head coach in the context of the bigger picture, not just Xs and Os or being a quintessential leader of men. He talked a lot about learning from "behind the curtain" in his time with the Washington Commanders under Mike Shanahan to his most recent stop with the Los Angeles Rams under Sean McVay. 

Morris said he was "jealous" of the relationship between McVay and Rams general manager Les Snead. It's something he's hoping to build his own version of with Fontenot. 

The question now remains: Will he be able to foster that into wins here in Atlanta? 

We'll start getting answers to that as the Falcons begin making moves in free agency and the draft to build the roster they feel can win now.

Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris poses for a photo at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. On Monday, February 5, 2024. (Photo by Jay Bendlin/Atlanta Falcons)

Tori McElhaney: Whatcha gonna do about the quarterback, gentlemen?

I wrote about this very topic immediately after the press conference on Monday afternoon, but I am going to bring it back up again because the conversation now has to shift to QB1 (in my eyes, at least). 

Terrin and Amna did a good job discussing the themes of Morris as a coach and the collaboration of which we could expect from him and Fontenot. I kind of wanted to turn the conversation toward roster building now. To do that, you have to start the conversation with the person who is going to touch the ball on every offensive snap, the quarterback. (Give or take running something out of wildcat every now and again). 

The Falcons have to find QB1 this offseason, in whatever form finding him takes: Free agency, the NFL Draft, a trade. It's all on the table, according to Morris and Fontenot's Monday comments.

Because, of course, Morris was asked about the quarterback. In response, he said he and Fontenot have had limited and brief conversations about the quarterback position in Atlanta. They haven't gone much deeper than that because their focus was on building the coaching staff around Morris. And I absolutely believe that. There’s evidence of that staff building. 

However, what I also believe is that there is a plan for the quarterback in Atlanta. I don't know what that plan is, mind you. But no one can convince me there isn't one, or that one wasn't discussed at length throughout the interview process.

Let's take it a step further, too: Just because there's a new head coach in the building doesn't mean that he's the sole person responsible for the move the Falcons officially make at quarterback when they make it. Oh no, Fontenot's front office staff hasn't left nor has it been altered. Kyle Smith and Ryan Pace are still very much around. You're going to tell me that even in the middle of a coaching search the plan for a quarterback wasn't fleshed out? Nah fam. There's a plan. There's a plan within a plan. And there are offshoots of that plan. No doubt. 

The Falcons are actually in the midst of their February scouting meetings as we speak. College scouts are in town. Film is being broken down by the entire group. Conversations are actively being had about the NFL Scouting Combine and the start of the new league year in March (when free agency officially begins).

The front office hasn't been sitting around doing nothing since the quarterback situation on the field took a turn in the 2023 season. They haven't been sitting around doing nothing since Arthur Smith was let go as head coach and Morris was hired. Work is still happening behind the scenes. 

So, yes, there's a plan. The question now shifts to: OK. What is it?

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