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Raheem Morris deserving of HC opportunity, but Colts job was not the right fit

Rams DC is ready for a second chance at head coach, but he dodged a bullet by not landing role in Indy.

Los Angeles Rams Training Camp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Raheem Morris is likely to hold the mantle of defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams again in 2023, barring something unexpected. Morris was a finalist for the head coach opening with the Indianapolis Colts, but Jim Irsay instead hired Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.

The Rams should feel fortunate to retain their DC after the Colts drew their search into the late stages of the coaching cycle. Vic Fangio was already off the market - he signed with the Miami Dolphins. Ejiro Evero, a former member of Sean McVay’s staff in LA, is joining Frank Reich with the Carolina Panthers. Both of those individuals would have been frontrunners to replace Morris, so it’s a relief that McVay didn’t have to undergo a deep search or dip into his secondary options.

The coaching staff is quickly coming together for the Rams, though they likely won’t make any official announcements until it’s assembled in its entirety. LA was swift to commit to Mike LaFleur, who mutually parted ways with the New York Jets, as their next offensive coordinator. McVay tapped Ryan Wendell of the Buffalo Bills to lead the offensive line. Retaining Morris allows the team to make tweaks on the defensive side without making any wholesale changes.

If the Rams can return to contention in 2023, Morris will be viewed as a top candidate in the head coaching pool for next offseason. Process should carry more weight than results, but it’s difficult for owners and general managers to hire a head coach coming off of a 5-12 season. With Aaron Donald returning to health and likely playing alongside Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey again, the Rams defense could turn things around quickly - and Morris will be the biggest individual beneficiary of such improvement.

Perhaps we look back during the 2024 coaching cycle and think Morris dodged a bullet by staying in Los Angeles instead of becoming the Colts’ lead man.

There are foundational issues with the Colts’ roster, and Morris may be better served to wait for an opportunity where he can make a quick turnaround.

Indianapolis has no quarterback, and their recent failures with second-chance veterans like Phillip Rivers, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan almost ties their hands with a rookie draft pick. The Colts’ offensive line quickly went from one of the best units in the league to miserable. Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce are nice weapons at receiver, but Pittman is entering a contract year and could command an extension worth $20M+ annually.

The defense is underwhelming and aging fast. Indy traded for Yannick Ngakoue last offseason and he’s headed for free agency. Shaq Leonard appeared in only three games in 2022. Stephon Gilmore played well at times, but his best days as a corner are behind him. DeForest Buckner is the only true building block the team has for the future.

For an offensive mind like Steichen, it is probably intriguing to have the opportunity to select your next franchise quarterback - but that’s a different challenge for a coach with a defensive background like Morris.

The Colts’ roster is in need of an overhaul, and the team can be patient and grow with a first-time head coach instead of someone who would be on their second (and possibly final) chance.

Raheem Morris should be relieved that he didn’t become the head coach of the Colts. A winning year with the Rams will catapult into a top opportunity next year - one where he can win right away.

Chicago Bears v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images