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Raheem Morris Named Atlanta Falcons Interim Head Coach

Ross Everett
by in NFL on
  • Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was fired on Sunday night.
  • Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has been named interim head coach.
  • The Falcons are off to a brutal 0-5 start in the 2020 NFL campaign.

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank began a housecleaning on Sunday night firing both head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. The bloodletting continued on Monday with special teams coach Ben Kotwica handed his walking papers. Now he’ll see what the rest of the existing coaching staff can make of the rest of the campaign following a brutal 0-5 start.

To serve as interim head coach, Blank turned to defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. Morris has 18 years of NFL coaching experience on both sides of the ball. He also served as head coach for three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay had this to say about Morris as he announced his status as interim head coach:

“Raheem is a strong leader and a talented coach that has adapted to a variety of roles since joining the Falcons in 2015. He has experience as a head coach and has worked on both sides of the ball. We felt that combined with his connection to the players and coaching staff, which will be an important factor as we move forward in 2020, he was the right person to give this responsibility to.” 

Given the dearth of talent on hand in Tampa Bay when he took over the job Morris did a decent job as head coach. Although the team went 3-13 in his first season (2009) they turned around quickly finishing with a 10-6 record in 2010. Although the Bucs would regress in 2011, he was fired in Tampa more due to personnel circumstances than anything else–the team was determined to make a last shot effort to groom Jameis Winston into a NFL quarterback. To facilitate this task, they hired highly regarded ‘quarterback whisperer’ Bruce Arians. Arians made some improvement with Winston but the team has now upgraded to former New England Patriots’ legend Tom Brady.

In addition to the firing of special teams coach Kotwica the team shuffled the remaining members of the staff. Assistant head coach/linebackers Jeff Ulbrich has taken over Morris’ former role as defensive coordinator. Ulbrich has been coaching the Falcons’ linebackers since 2015 and took on additional play calling duties this year. Running backs coach Bernie Parmalee was named the new special teams coordinator. He’s in his third season with the Falcons. Offensive assistant Will Harriger in his second season moves into the running back coach role.

Obviously, the Falcons will wait until the offseason to make any long term hires of a GM or head coach. In the meantime, this is an on the job ‘audition’ for Morris. There are some highly regarded candidates on the market including Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. The thinking is that owner Blank will want to bring in a more high profile candidate but if Morris shows some progress in the 11 games that remain he could put himself into the mix as well.

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