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Raheem Morris gets first head coach interview request, but probably not the last

Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris could finally get his second chance as a head coach this year

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Raheem Morris has a better resume to become a head coach this time around than when he was actually hired to be the Buccaneers head coach in 2009, so it is no surprise that the Washington Commanders have requested the Los Angeles Rams permission to speak to their defensive coordinator. Though Morris has a wild card game against the Detroit Lions to prepare for this week, there’s no question that Sean McVay will grant the request and that Morris will interview with Washington when the rules allow him to do so.

Teams can conduct in-person head coach interviews after the divisional round of the playoffs, as the NFL pushed back the date for those by a week last year in order to let coordinators like Morris focus on the playoffs.

A former assistant under Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay, as McVay and many other notable coaches were in the 2000s, and then under Mike Shanahan in Washington in the early 2010s, as many other notable coaches like McVay and Kyle Shanahan, Morris has a lot of qualities that his competition for head coach jobs will not have:

He was a head coach for three years with Tampa Bay from 2009-2011 when he was only 33-35 years old. Morris led the Bucs to a 10-6 record in his second season.

He was also an interim head coach with the Falcons in 2020 after the team fired Dan Quinn midseason.

He has coached both offense and defense, including defense and secondary under Gruden and Shanahan, then offense and receivers with Quinn. He became a defensive coordinator for the first time in 2020 and then was hired to replace Brandon Staley in 2021, giving him four seasons now in a role that he never had prior to 2020.

Though the Rams defense has not been elite, Morris is a Super Bowl-winning coordinator and he took over the cheapest and least experienced roster in the NFL in 2023 on defense and helped L.A. make the playoffs by ranking roughly average in most categories. It is probably more impressive that Morris has an average defense with this roster than if he had a top-5 defense with a group that had many $20 million per year players and first round picks.

Aaron Donald is the only former first or second round pick on the Rams entire defense.

But does Morris want to go to Washington?

The new ownership there might be a selling point to Morris that would not have existed when Dan Snyder was running the team. The Commanders hold the number two pick in the draft and are likely to pick a quarterback, which will entice many prospective candidates who are told they’ll get some say in that selection.

Washington has also reportedly requested interviews with Lions OC Ben Johnson and DC Aaron Glenn, Ravens DC Mike MacDonald and assistant HC Anthony Weaver. There will surely be others, but for now it seems that Washington is not solely focused on offensive candidates, as many were expecting teams to be fixated on.

If a team does hire Morris as the head coach, the Rams will be awarded two third round compensatory draft picks in 2024 and 2025 as a minority candidate. The Rams received two third round picks this way when the Lions hired GM Brad Holmes, one of which was used to select linebacker Ernest Jones.