The Atlanta Falcons are still waiting to announce what everybody already knows, that Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be their new head coach. Whilst the Falcons will have to wait until after the Super Bowl to officially announce Quinn, reports suggest that they have been putting together the rest of the coaching staff in the meantime.
The latest names to be unofficially added to the Falcons coaching staff are Former Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris, who will reportedly be the assistant head coach and the defensive backs coach. Further reports suggest that Broncos linebackers coach Richard Smith will be the new defensive coordinator in Atlanta.
At 32 years and 4 months, Morris was the fourth youngest ever NFL head coach back in January 2009 at Tampa Bay. Just over a month before being named the head coach Morris was the defensive backs coach in Tampa before being promoted to defensive coordinator in early December 2008 when the previous DC, Monte Kiffin left the team.
Tampa Bay held Morris in very high regard and had already anointed him as the future head coach of the franchise. After Morris interviewed with the Broncos for their vacant head coaching position in early January the Buccaneers were so worried about losing Morris from the organisation they fired John Gruden after a 9-7 season and appointed Morris as their head coach.
As the defensive backs coach, Morris helped the pass defense jump from last in 2006 to first in 2007. In his first year as head coach in 2009 Morris went 3-13 with an ageing and poor team. The following season Morris started with 10 rookies and became the first team to do this since the league merger in 1971. The team also recorded a 10-6 record which was a franchise best turnaround.
However in 2011 the team lost its last 10 games on route to a 4-12 record, it was evident that the team had given up in the last few weeks of the season. Morris was fired by the Bucs the day after the season finale, a 45-24 loss in Atlanta.
Less than two weeks later Morris was hired as the Redskins defensive backs coach. The Redskins pass defense, which as Falcons fans will know better than most, is also reliant of some kind of pass rush ranked third overall in 2012. In 2013 this unit fell to 13 but recorded 24 interceptions over those two seasons. Despite a dreadful overall season in Washington the pass defense ranked 9th overall.
Morris interviewed, unsuccessfully for the Redskins defensive coordinator position in early January.
The likelihood is that most people only remember Morris as a head coach in Tampa, where he ultimately failed although this was nowhere near entirely his fault. Morris is a player’s coach and perhaps this in some way led to his downfall in Tampa but you don’t go from being one of the most highly though of coaches to a bad coach in the space of a few years.
Raheem Morris is a good football coach who just happened to be put into a couple of bad situations. The last time Tampa had a winning record was during Morris’s second season in 2010 when they won 10 games. In 2014 under Lovie Smith they won 2 games. In Washington his defensive coordinator was Jim Haslett. How Haslett lasted so long in this position is anyone’s guess but Morris did a good job with a below average unit with one hand tied behind his back. The Atlanta Falcons have a good young coach in Raheem Morris.