Following the Philadelphia Eagles loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 57, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is expected to fly to Indianapolis to become the next head coach of the Colts. Over the past month, this was a position that Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris had been interviewing for and was considered a front-runner.
However, as it stands, everything is pointing to Morris returning to Los Angeles next season and that’s a good thing. No, the Rams won’t be receiving a third-round compensatory pick. Still, at this point in the process, it was better for the Rams to retain Morris than have to find several new coaches with the field already very thinned out.
Let’s make one thing very clear. It’s not Raheem Morris’ fault that the Colts had one of the most extensive head coaching searches ever conducted. The Rams have built a good culture in their building. You don’t build a good culture by “relieving someone of their duties” or replace someone because they’re interviewing for a better opportunity elsewhere. You wish them the best of luck and welcome them back if they don’t get it.
Sean McVay was never going to fire Raheem Morris. While, yes, the defense needed to play better in spots last season, they were far from the biggest issue on the team. Whereas the defense finished around the middle of the pack, the offense finished 29th in EPA per play. Neither group complimented the other well.
The Rams defense led the NFL in red zone percentage, allowing a touchdown on just 44 percent of red zone possessions. Before injuries to Aaron Donald and A’Shawn Robinson, they were the best run defense in the NFL, ranking first in EPA per carry and third in yards per carry allowed.
Had Morris been hired as the Colts head coach two weeks ago and shortly after he completed his second interview, the Rams could have targeted Ejiro Evero or even Vic Fangio to replace him. Evero specifically is someone that would have been very high on their list of replacement.
From me and @josephperson - Ejiro Evero has been requested by Minnesota and Carolina for DC jobs. If Raheem Morris gets the Colts HC job, Rams would want Evero for DC. Evero is a finalist for that Colts HC job and both DEN and CAR said no to Evero for HC this cycle.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) February 5, 2023
Instead, Evero was hired by the Carolina Panthers to join Frank Reich’s staff and Fangio was hired by the Miami Dolphins. The options for replacement defensive coordinators was getting awfully thin because the Colts were handcuffing the Rams.
Another thing that gets lost in this is that had Morris left, it wouldn’t have been just Morris leaving. It’s likely that Morris would have taken at least a few Rams coaches with him. Zac Robinson or Thomas Brown would have been top candidates to follow Morris. Other defensive coaches like Jonathan Cooley and Eric Henderson also would have been in play.
Not only would McVay have needed to replace Morris, he likely would have needed to replace several other coaches on the roster. That’s not something that you want to be doing at this point in the offseason. With the NFL Combine just two weeks away, the Rams will begin evaluating their roster from top to bottom and figure out where exactly they need to improve and what they want to prioritize.
It’s disappointing for Morris to once again get passed over in a head coaching search in favor of an offensive guy. He’s earned a second opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL. The silver lining is that the Rams get to keep a coach who is well-received and well-liked by the players.
Next year will be a big year for Morris. The defense needs to show growth in what as a young secondary in 2022. They need to add a pass-rusher opposite of Leonard Floyd. For now, Morris remains with the Rams and will have the opportunity to build another championship caliber group.