Raheem Morris had already been a head coach once before prior to joining the Atlanta Falcons staff under Dan Quinn in 2015, staying there for six years in a variety of roles on both sides of the ball. But Falcons owner Arthur Blank didn’t feel that Morris was ready to become the head coach when Atlanta was interviewing candidates to replace Quinn in 2021, instead choosing Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
When Smith was fired at the conclusion of 2023 with three 7-10 seasons, the Falcons made the surprising decision to bring Morris back as head coach over a six-time Super Bowl champion. The reason for that was the three years that Morris spent with Sean McVay and Les Snead on the Los Angeles Rams.
In Albert Breer’s column for SI, Blank was sure to mention McVay and Snead as key reasons for Atlanta’s decision to hire Morris over Bill Belichick and a dozen other candidates:
“The experience we had with him in Atlanta was great. It was six years, obviously a lot of success during that time, didn’t end that way, but a lot of success during that time,” Blank says. “Spent a lot of time on offense, defense, great leader. Coaches loved him, players loved him. What I saw in the three years he was in L.A. is I think he grew a lot professionally from his relationship with coach [Sean] McVay, their coaching style, their coaching structure, organizationally, as well as working with Les [Snead] and the level of collaboration that I think’s unique between Les and Sean and building their roster.
“I think he learned skills that weren’t fully developed when he left us in Atlanta. I could see that during the interview process, just thinking about how to build a coaching staff that would be sustainable if we were losing coaches in the future because of success. I’m excited about him.”
Morris had never been a full-time defensive coordinator prior to 2020, only when he was the head coach of the Buccaneers did he ever call plays, and then the Rams brought him in to replace Brandon Staley in 2021. Morris didn’t have a number one defense like Staley, but helped the Rams win a Super Bowl and proved he could help players overachieve last season.
His versatile experience as someone who has been a head coach, defensive coordinator, assistant head coach, interim head coach, wide receivers coach, and passing game coordinator helped Blank decide that Morris was again ready to lead a team in 2024. In Atlanta, Morris has a lot of talent to work with, especially on offense, and he brought over two other Rams coaches to coordinator offense and defense: Zac Robinson and Jimmy Lake.
If not for his time with McVay and Snead, Morris probably wouldn’t have this second chance so soon and in a really good situation. The McVay tree isn’t just wide, it’s also durable, as Staley is the only head coach to be fired since leaving the Rams. Blank thinks that Morris will definitely be the next who has staying power.