Falcons look to their history to secure their future.
On Thursday, Atlanta selected Raheem Morris as its coach, making him Arthur Blank's first former NFL head coach job in 20 years. First full-time Black head coach in team history.
"This is a historic day for the Atlanta Falcons," Blank stated. We're excited to have Raheem Morris back as Atlanta's head coach. Raheem is the appropriate captain to lead our squad into the future after a strong field.
"His experience in LA has improved his view on personnel, team operations, game preparation, working with an amazing offensive staff, and many other areas, making him a better coach in all areas of the game. I think his leadership abilities and knowledge of a highly collaborative one-team culture have improved."
Morris' hiring after a 14-person search that included former New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel, and former Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who was hired Wednesday by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Four coaches had second interviews with the club, including Morris. Belichick, Bobby Slowik, and Ejiro Evero were the others. It appears that Belichick has only interviewed with the Falcons, who have chosen another path.
Morris, who replaced Dan Quinn midway through the 2020 season as Atlanta's interim coach, returns to Flowery Branch, Georgia. Morris went 4-7 but wasn't hired full-time. Falcons hired Arthur Smith instead.
After Smith was sacked on Jan. 8 after three seasons of 21-30, the club hired Morris as its full-time coach.
Morris stated, "I am overjoyed for the opportunity for my family and I to return to Atlanta as the Falcons head coach." "We've seen Atlanta's top-notch organization and what this team represents to its community and supporters. I'm grateful to Arthur Blank and this organization for trusting me to manage this team."
Morris, 47, was the Rams' defensive coordinator for three seasons, winning a Super Bowl in 2021.
This is his second full-time NFL coaching job. He managed Tampa Bay from 2009 to 2011, going 17-31.
Morris then coached defensive backs at Washington from 2012 to 2014 before joining the Falcons as defensive pass game coordinator in 2015 and receivers coach from 2016 to 2019 while acting as Atlanta's associate head coach.
He became Falcons defensive coordinator in 2020 and temporary head coach after Quinn's departure.
"Love it! Have have pleasant memories with Rah leading "FCS fullback Keith Smith texted ESPN. "Think his rapport with the org is an advantage to plug and play."
Second-team All-Pro safety Jessie Bates III, cornerback A.J. Terrell, and defensive lineman Grady Jarrett join Morris. He receives quality offensive players like tight end Kyle Pitts, receiver Drake London, running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, and left tackle Jake Matthews and right guard Chris Lindstrom, who were with Atlanta before.
"I'm beyond excited to work side-by-side with Raheem in bringing a championship to Atlanta," stated general manager Terry Fontenot. "... Raheem is the right fit for our team, culture, and shared vision for success in Atlanta, and I cannot wait to start working with him and have his energy in our building."
Fontenot and Morris will report to Blank instead than CEO Rich McKay. AMB Sports & Entertainment's McKay will represent the team on the NFL's competition committee and in league issues. As team president, Greg Beadles manages daily operations.
At the Jan. 8 press conference to announce Smith's firing, McKay was said to still have daily influence, despite popular belief. McKay called Smith and Fontenot "25 times a week."
Blank said Thursday that McKay will "no longer be involved in day-to-day football operations," but that he will become an associate director on the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation board.
Morris, from New Jersey, played collegiate football at Hofstra in Long Island, New York, where he became a graduate assistant. After coaching defensive backs at Cornell in 1999 and Hofstra from 2000 to 2001, he became a defensive assistant with the Buccaneers.
After choosing his staff, Morris will address the quarterback position. Blank labeled the team's quarterback play last season "deficient," which contributed to Smith's ouster. Taylor Heinicke and Desmond Ridder remain on the roster.
League sources tell ESPN's Adam Schefter that Sam Morris' offensive coordinator in Atlanta would likely be Rams quarterbacks coach and pass-game coordinator Zac Robinson. Morris will talk to many coaches about the O-coordinator position, but Robinson is a strong possibility.
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