The Los Angeles Rams current defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is starting to generate a decent amount of head coaching buzz. Steve Wyche of NFL network reported that DeMeco Ryans’ success this year with the Texans could be helping out Morris this time around. Wyche explained how teams may now turn their focus to more culture-building guys like Morris.
A coaching candidate to keep an eye on: @RamsNFL DC Raheem Morris. Could the success of former defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and his ability to develop players and a culture in Houston help sway owners who might only see offensive coaches as the way? From @NFLTotalAccess pic.twitter.com/4RVMRo7Ay4— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) January 10, 2024
Should Morris end up becoming a head coach in the NFL for the second time in his career it would mean a few things. Before we dive into those though its worth noting that Morris joined the Rams in 2021 and instantly helped them win a Super Bowl. Ever since his defenses have been solid and have kept them in games they might not otherwise have been in. Morris went 3-13 in his first year as a head coach with the Buccaneers in 2009 and followed it up with a 10-6 record the following year. Morris became the first coach since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger to start at least 10 rookies and finish with a winning record.
The problem for Morris was the year that followed after the Buccaneers failed to retain a few key players, the team finished 4-12 and Morris was fired. He did receive another chance to be a head coach in an interim role with the Falcons after Dan Quinn was let go and he went 4-7. While Morris has a losing record at 21-38, it’s definitely worth noting he’s learned a ton in his time as an assistant coach. I believe Morris is ready and I’m sure the Rams do as well. So, if Morris is indeed hired what does that mean for the Los Angeles Rams?
- Draft Compensation
Due to the NFL’s minority coaching hire compensation, the Rams would receive two third-round picks for losing Raheem Morris as a head coach to any team. The Rams would see their first third-round pick in that haul as early as this year’s 2024 NFL Draft and would receive compensation for 2025’s NFL Draft as well. Here’s how the Rams 2024 draft would look after this.
3rd Round Compensatory (Raheem Morris)
5th Round via Steelers (Kevin Dotson trade)
5th Round Compensatory (Baker Mayfield)
6th Round Compensatory (Matt Gay)
6th Round Compensatory (Nick Scott)
6th Round Compensatory (A’Shawn Robinson)
2. Potential Losses
This is the tough fact about the NFL during the coaching circuit. You not only will lose top coaches who can become head coaches but those guys you lose will also want to bring along a few of their own guys from your team to get started. Now, Raheem Morris is a long time coach so he will have plenty of his coaching buddies that will want to be apart of his staff. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t try to bring a few from the Rams if he’s hired. It’s worth noting that the Rams cannot do anything to block him if he is giving them a promotion the only way the Rams can block is if they give said coach a promotion instead or its a lateral move. Let’s dive into who this could mean:
Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur
The reason for this is because Mike technically doesn’t call plays. He has a lot to do with the offense but this would likely be considered a promotion for him if he was the primary offensive play-caller for Raheem Morris’ team.
Quarterbacks Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Zac Robinson
Sean McVay hired Zac Robinson from Pro Football Focus. This has been his guy and I could see him promoting Robinson to offensive coordinator should he lose LaFleur. However, Morris could make him the offensive coordinator, that would be a promotion and he would be able to leave if so.
Rams Pass Game Specialist Jake Peetz
Peetz has been rumored to have interest in the college ranks as a head coach but if he doesn’t opt for that and the Rams block Zac Robinson, this might be your best bet for Raheem Morris’ next offensive coordinator.
Offensive Assistant KJ Black
This is an easy one. Black has two years of experience and Morris could promote him to be a full on position coach or passing game coordinator to bring him over for a promotion.
Offensive Assistant Nick Jones
The exact same can be said about Nick Jones who is in a similar position as coach Black. Black works more with the quarterbacks where as Jones works more with the offensive line. Keep in mind, these are guys that coaches like McVay want to develop into long-term options at position and coordinator jobs. Still though, you never know.
Running Backs Coach Ron Gould
I just don’t see him leaving. I think he just wants to coach running backs and has no interest in a promotion but perhaps if offered he would consider it.
Wide Receivers Coach Eric Yarber
I do not see Yarber leaving. I think he wants to stay with the Rams and coach wide receivers but if he wanted a promotion this would be a spot to get one.
Tight Ends Coach Nick Caley
Caley was brought over from New England this year but Morris could definitely bring him over in a larger role such as a passing game coordinator or assistant head coach to get him to come over from the Rams.
Assistant Offensive Line Coach Zak Kromer
Aaron Kromer’s son has worked his way up the rungs and is almost at the level of being an offensive line coach. He could get that opportunity with whatever team Raheem Morris goes to. He’s a name to look out for.
Assistant Special Teams Coach Jeremy Springer
Springer has two years of experience under his belt and has Chase Blackburn in front of him for the special teams coordinator gig. If Morris wanted to bring Springer to his team and make him the special teams coordinator he could definitely do that.
Defensive Assistant Mike Harris
Here’s another assistant that could get a promotion if he joined Morris wherever he ended up. We will see what happens on this front.
Assistant Defensive Line Coach AC Carter
Carter is in his third year coaching and is the assistant to Eric Henderson. If the Rams lose Henderson I think Carter takes over that role but if Henderson stays there is a chance Morris could pluck Carter to be his defensive line coach and potentially run game coordinator.
Defensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Eric Henderson
Henderson could be the defensive coordinator to replace Morris but if he doesn’t get the opportunity to do so I wouldn’t be shocked if Morris brings him over.
Linebackers Coach/Pass Rush Coordinator Chris Shula
Shula, like Pleasant has a lot of experience coaching. I would not be surprised to see him take over as the Rams defensive coordinator nor would I if he went with Morris to be his defensive coordinator.
Outside Linebackers Coach Joe Coniglio
This is another one to watch out for. There’s a good chance the Rams like him long-term and wouldn’t hesitate to promote him but we will see.
Defensive Backs Coach/Pass Game Coordinator Aubrey Pleasant
Speaking of coaches I wouldn’t be shocked to see go with Morris, Aubrey Pleasant. Pleasant it would depend on if he receives the defensive coordinator promotion or not. Quite a few felt he deserved it when the team went in a different direction and hired Brandon Staley and Raheem Morris.
Secondary Coach Chris Beake
No one on the staff has the amount of experience Beake has as he’s coaching in his 25th year. While more experienced and older coaches prefer to stay in great situations, this could be an opportunity for Beake to go be a defensive coordinator with Morris if he so chooses.
3. Defensive Coordinator Replacements
As mentioned earlier, I think Pleasant has a shot to be the defensive coordinator for Morris if he gets hired somewhere. Pleasant was someone that was once described to me by someone with knowledge of the Rams situations as “the defensive Sean McVay” he was someone that felt like a shoe-in to be a head coach. This could be the first step to doing that.
Henderson, like Pleasant is another coach I feel strongly that could join Morris wherever he goes as the defensive coordinator. Henderson has had interest before from teams as a defensive coordinator this could be his shot. If Morris leaves and he stays it might be as the Rams defensive coordinator.
This is a bit of a dark horse one here. Shula is well-liked and talked highly of by McVay. I wouldn’t be shocked if he became the Rams defensive coordinator.
He hasn’t coached long but Sean McVay trusts his fellow Alum from Miami (OH) as the outside linebackers coach. This would be a bit of a shock, I think Coniglio is someone who down the road could nab this gig but he still has to have some development and could be asked to be a pass rush coordinator or something along those lines before he goes straight to defensive coordinator.
Jim Leonhard (Illinois Senior Football Analyst)
The former interim Wisconsin head coach was once highly-sought after by Sean McVay to be his next defensive coordinator. The Rams ended up hiring Brandon Staley since Leonhard reportedly didn’t want to leave his alma mater. Well, fast forward to now and he’s no longer with Wisconsin. This could be a huge opportunity to get back to where he should be. The important thing to note is that Leonhard is currently the favorite to join Deion Sanders at Colorado and be his defensive coordinator.
Brandon Staley (Former Chargers Head Coach)
Staley led the Rams defense in 2020 to the best defense the franchise has arguably ever had. He left right after the team lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to become the Chargers head coach and things didn’t go so great for Staley. There’s no doubt Staley was a great defensive coordinator with the Rams but can they still count on him to be that following his downfall with the Chargers? Could Sean McVay really bring him back? I think it’s possible but wouldn’t be the most likely scenario.
Wink Martindale (Former Giants Defensive Coordinator)
The Rams saw first-hand how scary a Wink Martindale defense is in their one-point victory vs. the Giants. It would be a different direction to take the defense as Martindale is much more aggressive than how the Rams have run their defense quite honestly ever in the McVay era. However, he’s really good and is aggressiveness and successful resume could lead the Rams to consider going in a new direction for the defense with the next era of Rams football right around the corner.
Antonio Pierce (Raiders Interim Head Coach)
Pierce was great for the Raiders after he filled in for Josh McDaniels as the interim head coach. If the Raiders decide to not bring him back as the head coach the Rams could look to add him as their defensive coordinator.
Jerod Mayo (Patriots Inside Linebackers Coach)
Mayo has been rumored to be a future head coach for awhile but it hasn’t come to fruition. He’s been around Belichick his coaching career and if McVay wanted to inject aspects of the Belichick defense this would be a way to do it.
DeMarcus Covington (Patriots Defensive Line Coach)
He’s one of the up-and-comers in the league. The Patriots defensive line saw plenty of development and Covington is one of the better defensive coordinator options out there in the league. Again, this would be going in a much different direction.
Anthony Weaver (Ravens Defensive Line Coach)
The development has been there for the Ravens defensive line and if Sean McVay wanted to dip into the Mike Macdonald pool of defensive knowledge this would be an intriguing change to make. Macdonald would likely take him with him if he became a head coach though.
Joe Whitt Jr. (Cowboys Defensive Backs Coach)
Look at the Cowboys development in the DB room. Clearly Joe Whitt Jr. is doing a great job. He would likely follow Dan Quinn if he left at all since Quinn is expected to be a head coach and potentially with the Seahawks but Whitt Jr. would be a fascinating pick to be the next defensive coordinator.
My final thought is that the Rams will likely go back to Jim Leonhard or stay in-house with one of Aubrey Pleasant, Eric Henderson and Chris Shula.