Being back with the Los Angeles Rams for another year of training camp has to feel bitter-sweet for defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
After adopting the defensive scheme that Brandon Staley brought to LA, Morris made his own tweaks and left his own fingerprints to lead a downright stifling defense across the 2021 playoffs and into Super Bowl LVI. Morris was a young head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 2009, and you’d think coordinating a championship defense and running the en vogue scheme in the league would open up doors for a second opportunity.
Morris’ defense held on as long as possible in 2022 and kept the team competitive despite an offense that was extremely difficult to watch. Sean McVay’s offense was derailed by injury after injury along the offensive line, which then led to Matthew Stafford missing the second half of the season, and then Cooper Kupp went down shortly after. It took more time for attrition to set in on defense when Aaron Donald was lost late in the year against the Kansas City Chiefs, but Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, and Leonard Floyd kept the group on track despite their star’s absence.
It makes sense that Morris would end up as a finalist after his defense gave relative stability to a roster on the verge of collapse. He was a finalist for the head coach opening for the Indianapolis Colts, but ultimately the team chose Shane Steichen of the Philadelphia Eagles.
But just over one week into the new regime, tensions are boiling over in Indianapolis—and Morris is probably starting to feel as if he dodged a major bullet. Amidst a high profile pay dispute between running backs across the league, Jim Irsay made things too personal with Colts running back and contract extension hopeful Jonathan Taylor. Taylor has since requested a trade.
NFL Running Back situation- We have negotiated a CBA,that took years of effort and hard work and compromise in good faith by both sides..to say now that a specific Player category wants another negotiation after the fact,is inappropriate. Some Agents are selling ‘bad faith’..— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) July 26, 2023
#Colts owner Jim Irsay: “If I die tonight and Jonathan Taylor is out of the league, no one’s gonna miss us. The league goes on. We know that. The National Football (League) rolls on. It doesn’t matter who comes and who goes, and it’s a privilege to be a part of it.”— James Boyd (@RomeovilleKid) July 30, 2023
Irsay often fires from the hip, and he’s now the most notorious owner left in the NFL after Dan Snyder recently completed the sale of the Washington Commanders. But the owner is leaving his general manager, Chris Ballard, and young head coach, Steichen, in an uncomfortable position as they negotiate with one of their more productive and promising young players.
Fortunately for Morris, if he can help a young, unproven Rams defense surprise those around the league who don’t anticipate his unit being any good, he could have his pick of the head coach openings in 2024. Things may work out and he can choose the type of owner he wants to build a long-term, sustainable future with.
It just probably won’t be someone like Jim Irsay.