Raheem Morris ‘definitely vested into the Falcons family’

Credit: AJC

Caption
Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris discusses the 44-27 loss to the Bucs, his interview with the team and his future.

Credit: AJC

Interim coach went 4-7 over final 11 games of 2020 season

Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris, who interviewed Friday for the full-time post, didn’t want to sum his 11-game run.

“I’m going to let (the media) sum that up,” Morris said after the Falcons’ 44-27 loss to Tom Brady and the playoff-bound Buccaneers. “That’s your guys’ job. It is what it is.”

Morris finished 4-7. He won four of the first six games, including a 43-6 plastering of the Raiders. The Falcons lost their last five games to the Saints, Chargers, Bucs at home, Chiefs and the Bucs in Tampa.

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“It was a great interview,” Morris said. “I had a chance to sit down with (owner) Mr. (Arthur) Blank and some of the people at the top, (president) Rich McKay and some others. Had a lot of fun with that. That time is over with. Now, we play the waiting game. We’ll see how it goes and see what the decision-makers say.”

Morris, 44, was previously Tampa Bay’s head coach from 2009 to 2011. He was 32 when he landed that job. He’s hoping to land the Falcons’ job.

“It went well,” Morris said of the interview. “It was fair. It was long. It was definitely appreciated. I’m definitely vested into the Falcons family. I’m in that way and I appreciate those guys.”

Morris didn’t hesitate when asked if he wanted to be the head coach.

“There is no doubt,” Morris said. “I love this football team. I love this city. I love this organization. I love the owner. I love these players.”

The Falcons contend they are not that far away from being a winning football team. Seven of their losses were by six points on less. The two score losses were to playoff-bound teams: Seahawks, Packers, Saints and the Bucs.

Credit: AJC

Caption
Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris addresses issues in run game and missing Julio Jones, following regular season finale against Tampa Bay.

Credit: AJC

“They’ve been battle tested,” Morris said. “They’ve played against a bunch of really (good) playoff-bound teams the last couple of weeks. They fought and have not been able to get the wins. They are that close. We’ve got to find a way to get over the (hump). If we are able to get to this point, be in this spot again next year, we will find a way.”

The Falcons struggled to run the ball and rush the passer in 2020. Also, quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked 41 times.

“We have to be able to run the ball more consistently,” Morris said. “We have to find a way to get after the quarterback with our four-man rush. If we can do some of those teams, we’re going to be the team to beat. We’re going to be the team to deal with moving forward.”

The Falcons also are looking for a general manager. They have interviewed former Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith and Falcons director of college scouting Antony Robinson.

“Not really interested in that,” Morris said. “He’ll come up and have his own opinions. Whoever that is, those guys I’m sure are going to pick a great evaluator. They are going to pick a great guy with people. They are going to pick a great guy that’s a part of our family and our core values and look forward to seeing what that looks like.”

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Ryan has had two head coaches over his 13 seasons in the league. Morris would be the third behind Mike Smith and Dan Quinn.

“I love Raheem,” Ryan said. “I think he’s done a great job for us. He’s a great football coach.”

Morris is expected to be a candidate for other jobs.

“Whether if it’s here or somewhere else, he’s going to be a head coach in this league,” Ryan said. “There’s no doubt about it. He’s a good football coach and I trust our front office to go out there and find the best person for our organization. We’ll see what happens, but I’ve loved Raheem his entire time here.”

Ryan is willing to provide his input, if asked.

“No, I think it’s in their hands to make a decision to go through a process to find the best person for our organization when it comes to head coach and GM,” Ryan said. “They know where I’m at if they need me. I’m obviously available and willing to give my input — and I’ve done that with them consistently throughout my career. So, they know how I feel, but it’s definitely on them.”

In addition to Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and N.Y. Jets have head coach openings. The Jets fired Adam Gase Sunday Night. There may be more dismissals Monday.

“All of things will be out tomorrow,” Morris said. “Obviously, you guys will have a bunch of fun with Black Monday. That’s always fun for media people, not so much for coaches. We sit around, we’re waiting and we will figure those things out and figure out what we’re going to do with our families and be able to do an interview if we can.”

Falcons’ 2021 draft position

(Heading into Week 17 Games)

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

2. New York Jets

3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)

4. Falcons

5. Cincinnati Bengals

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