The Raheem Morris era is officially underway in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Falcons promoted Morris, the team’s defensive coordinator, to the interim head coach position on Monday. Atlanta fired Dan Quinn, the Falcons’ head coach since 2015, after an 0-5 start.
Here’s what fans need to know about Morris, who is now tasked with salvaging the Atlanta Falcons’ 2020 season.
Raheem Morris is a veteran defensive coach
Only 44 years old, Raheem Morris played collegiately at Hofstra when the New York school still had a football program.
A defensive back in college, Morris started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Hofstra in 1998. A year later, Morris earned his first positional job: the defensive backs coach at Cornell.
Morris held the same position at Hofstra from 2000-01. He joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 as a defensive quality coach and, in 2006, became the defensive coordinator at Kansas State.
Morris was only 29 when he took the Kansas State job. A year later, he returned to Tampa Bay as the defensive backs coach.
Morris coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-11
Years before Tom Brady arrived, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened the 2008 season at 9-3.
Tampa lost its final four games, though, and fired longtime head coach Jon Gruden. With veteran defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin headed to the University of Tennessee to join his son, new Volunteers head coach Lane Kiffin, it appeared Morris would be the Buccaneers’ new defensive coordinator.
Tampa Bay had a different plan for Morris. The Buccaneers promoted Morris to the head coaching position and, at 32, he became one of the youngest head coaches in modern NFL history.
Morris went 3-13 in his first season with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay improved to 10-6 a year later with Josh Freeman at quarterback.
Tampa Bay entered the 2011 season with high expectations. However, after a 4-2 start, Tampa lost the final 10 games and fired Morris when the season ended.
Raheem Morris could make his case as Atlanta’s next full-time coach
When all is said and done, the Atlanta Falcons’ head-coaching vacancy could be among the top available jobs next offseason.
What is stopping Morris from becoming the next full-time head coach? Raheem Morris is experienced, he’s still young, and he’s been with the Falcons since 2015.
Atlanta’s defense hasn’t played up to par this year, but that could always change under new leadership.
There are two main issues for Morris, however. One is the defense, which allowed over 30 points in each of its first four games and contributed to two improbable collapses.
The other issue is, at 0-5 in a competitive NFC South Division, Atlanta’s playoff hopes are all but over. Atlanta needs a miracle even to finish 8-8.
But, there is good news ahead. The Dan Quinn era is mercifully over and, with Morris at the helm for a couple of weeks, that in itself should be considered a victory.