سایت طوفان بت : What Raheem Morris’ return to Atlanta means for the Falcons


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The Atlanta Falcons are planning to hire Raheem Morris as the team’s next head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Thursday.

Morris was last in Atlanta three years ago when he was the interim head coach after Dan Quinn was fired following the team’s 0-5 start. Morris went 4-7 as the interim coach, and Atlanta hired Arthur Smith to replace him. The Falcons fired Smith after three 7-10 seasons.

Morris comes from the Los Angeles Rams, where he had three successful seasons as the defensive coordinator and is widely respected around the league. He’s coached on both sides of the ball.

He’s the first head coach owner Arthur Blank has hired with prior NFL head-coaching experience; he was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009 to 2011. A young head coach at the time — he was 32 when he was hired by Tampa.

This concludes a search where Atlanta interviewed 14 candidates for the position and had multiple second interviews, including with former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Taking a closer look, Falcons reporter Michael Rothstein answers two big questions about Morris’ hiring, including what will happen at quarterback. National reporter Dan Graziano dishes on what he’s hearing about the hire and why it wasn’t Belichick, and draft analyst Matt Miller spins it forward to the draft. Finally, front office analyst Mike Tannenbaum grades the hire.


What has changed since Morris was Atlanta’s interim coach in 2020?

Rothstein: A lot. The roster is almost completely turned over from when he left following the 2020 season. Only cornerback AJ Terrell, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, left tackle Jake Matthews, right guard Chris Lindstrom, right tackle Kaleb McGary and kicker Younghoe Koo remain from the roster he left behind and are under contract for 2024.

He’ll also be working with a different general manager, Terry Fontenot, who was brought in in January 2021.

The only thing that will look the same to him might be Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the practice fields.

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Swagu: Raheem Morris’ success as a coach tied to the QB position

Marcus Spears says Raheem Morris is the right hire for the Falcons, but adds that he will ultimately be judged on his choice at starting quarterback.

What will the Falcons do at quarterback?

Rothstein: This is an open question and might be dictated by who Morris decides to hire as offensive coordinator.

Both Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke — Atlanta’s quarterbacks last season — remain under contract in 2024, but Blank called their play “deficient” during his Jan. 8 press conference after firing Smith. So it’s easy to surmise the Falcons will look to replace part — or all — of their quarterback room from a season ago.

Ridder was a third-round pick in 2022 and is on a rookie contract. Heinicke is a potential cap cut, a move that would save Atlanta $7 million.

Morris was on the Rams staff last season when Baker Mayfield came in as a late-season replacement, and he is scheduled to be a free agent, so there would be some familiarity there if Tampa Bay was unable to come to terms with Mayfield. But that’s all speculative at this point, and Mayfield and the Bucs have expressed a desire to work something out.

It’s highly possible Atlanta brings in a free agent veteran for at least the first year, and if a rookie quarterback makes sense, the Falcons can either trade up or draft one at No. 8 and have them compete. Or there might be longer-term answers like Kirk Cousins or Russell Wilson.

Once Morris gets settled and assembles his staff, the first big piece of what he and Fontenot have to figure out is what to do at quarterback and how that quarterback fits into an offense with good skill position players: Running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, receiver Drake London and tight ends Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith are all under contract for 2024.


Why didn’t the Falcons hire Bill Belichick

Graziano: Multiple sources have said for weeks that Blank went into this process wanting Belichick, and I think the league and the industry expected that to work out. But there were hurdles that couldn’t be cleared. The organizational structure in Atlanta involves Blank and CEO Rich McKay, and a lot of the discussions with Belichick centered on the idea of what McKay’s role would be if Belichick came to coach the team — and how much power and control the various parties would have in the end.

Belichick — who is 15 wins shy of breaking Don Shula’s all-time record for most by a head coach — was seen as a short-term play, so there were some in the Falcons’ building who were concerned about overhauling things extensively only to potentially have to do so again in a few years. Blank may have gone into the process wanting Belichick, but he also went in with an open mind and was willing to listen to the input of others in his organization. All of that, combined with already high opinions of Morris, led to this surprise result. And it could leave Belichick without a job in 2024.

What else are you hearing around the league on the hire?

Graziano: Morris has as good and complete a resume as any candidate in this cycle, plus a strong relationship with Blank. So after interviewing 14 candidates, including Belichick twice, the Falcons made a hire that makes all kinds of sense for them.

Morris was on Atlanta’s coaching staff from 2015-20. A longtime defensive coach, he moved to the offensive side of the ball to coach Falcons wide receivers from 2016-19. He then became defensive coordinator in 2020 and served out the final 11 games of that season as interim head coach following Quinn’s firing. For some reason, Blank decided at that point to hire Arthur Smith instead of Morris. Well, three years later, the Falcons corrected their error.

Morris is extremely well-liked and well-respected around the league, and Sean McVay and the Rams were pushing for him to get a head coach job this offseason. Morris had his second interview with Blank earlier this week, and sources said it went great, which is no big surprise. The two men are very close. But between his previous (albeit long-ago) head coaching experience, his work as an assistant on both sides of the ball and the time he spent under McVay (whose assistants always seem to become head coaches), Morris returns to Atlanta with all of the requisite experience to handle this job.


If Morris opts to do defense at No. 8, who is the perfect fit for his first pick as the Falcons’ coach?

Miller: The 2024 draft class isn’t rich with top-end defensive talent, but if Morris has his sights on a defender at No. 8, Alabama’s standout pass-rusher Dallas Turner fits the bill. He’s my top-ranked defender in the class, and he reminds me of the Jaguars’ Josh Allen because of his awesome length and speed. Turner had 10 sacks in his final season for the Crimson Tide, and he not only has immediate starter ability but also the highest upside of all defenders in this class. That’s what the Falcons need, considering they posted a pass rush win rate of 30.9% in 2023, last in the NFL.


How would you grade this hire?

Tannenbaum: B. Morris did an outstanding job rebuilding a very young and inexperienced Rams defense, but he has gone 21-38 as a head coach (three seasons with the Buccaneers from 2009-11, and an interim stint in Atlanta in 2020). His first decision as the Falcons’ coach — who will play quarterback — will be absolutely critical for Morris.

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