The NFL has encouraged teams to act slowly, more deliberately, and to cast a wider net with their head coaching searches, including delaying the ability to conduct in person interviews with certain candidates, and the plan is working. Through two weeks since the season ended, the only new head coaches are an internal promotion on the Patriots and taking the “interim” tag off of Antonio Pierce in Las Vegas.
Six open head coaching positions remain—and Raheem Morris is a leading candidate for most of them—and more second interviews will transpire this week. But as that’s happening, there is another set of interviews taking place that the L.A. Rams can’t participate in until they know for sure that Morris is leaving the team:
Who will be the next defensive coordinator if the Rams lose Raheem Morris?
Rams’ defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is scheduling second in-person head-coaching interviews with the Falcons, Panthers, Commanders and Seahawks, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 22, 2024
On Monday, the Chicago Bears hired Shane Waldron to be their next offensive coordinator and the Jaguars hired Ryan Nielsen to be their defensive coordinator. The Eagles are currently interviewing candidates to be their next defensive coordinator after firing Sean Desai, including interest in Ron Rivera and Wink Martindale. New head coaches Jerod Mayo and Pierce can start filling out their staff immediately.
But the Rams are forced to wait until they find out if a team will hire Morris or not, at which point if he is then they can start the process of landing a new defensive coordinator. If he’s not, then Sean McVay, Kevin Demoff, and Les Snead have all but committed the defensive coordinator job to him next season based on their comments of how amazing he is.
Here is Les Snead's 3-minute monologue on Raheem Morris' qualifications to be hired as a head coach during this cycle— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 19, 2024
"He will be able to hire an unbelievable staff... and I'm pretty sure there will be a lot of tampering charges. Because just about every player will text him… pic.twitter.com/2Ze8s6cuYz
Which is not necessarily an outcome that every Rams fan was hoping for, with or without Morris being hired as a head coach somewhere else.
If Morris returns, he will be the first defensive coordinator to work for Sean McVay for more than three seasons. McVay made a change with Wade Phillips after three seasons and a Super Bowl appearance, so there could be an itch to make a change again.
If Morris is hired to be a head coach somewhere else, then which coaches is he taking with him to be offensive and defensive coordinator?
The Rams have already lost defensive coach Eric Henderson to be the co-DC at USC, so to lose Morris and another coach (say Morris hires Aubrey Pleasant to be the DC), then L.A.’s left with three less options to be the next defensive coordinator.
Of course, like with Brandon Staley and Morris, McVay wants to interview outside candidates to be the next defensive coordinator. What if Ejiro Evero doesn’t get a head coaching job? He could return to the Rams and take the defensive coordinator job, probably.
But there aren’t any options behind him as far as coaches who had past experience with L.A. who seem qualified for the job in 2024. And McVay’s strongest defensive connection before the Rams was...Raheem Morris.
Or Joe Barry, but I don’t think anyone wants to go down that road with the Packers still-current defensive coordinator.
McVay will talk to the usual suspects, like Wink Martindale and maybe even Sean Desai or Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt, and other coaches who don’t get hired as head coaches like Patrick Graham or maybe in some far off scenario, Mike Vrabel.
There will be choices. But the longer the Rams have to wait to hear about Raheem Morris, the fewer options there will be for the time to replace him.