Morris interviews for Falcons’ head coaching spot

Atlanta Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris works during the first half  against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Saints won 21-16. (Danny Karnik/AP)

Credit: AP

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Atlanta Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris works during the first half against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Saints won 21-16. (Danny Karnik/AP)

Credit: AP

Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris was interviewed for the team’s open head coaching position Friday, according to two people within the NFL familiar with the situation.

The team confirmed the interview late Friday afternoon. ESPN first reported that Morris was interviewing Friday.

Morris did not allude to the interview in his last virtual news conference with the local media Friday. However, he thanked the media at the end of the virtual call.

“This may be the last press conference in this format,” Morris said. “It gives me the ability to thank everybody on this call and say how generous and honest you guys have been all year and how frank we’ve been with each other. The fair reporting and everything that we’ve done together. I appreciate you all for that.”

After an 0-5 start, Dan Quin was fired Oct. 11. Morris, 44, was named the interim head coach and had the final 11 games to make an impression. He was Tampa Bay’s head coach from 2009-11. He was named the head coach there at age 32.

In 2010, the Bucs went 10-6 and just missed the playoffs. They went 4-12 the following season, and Morris was fired.

He won four of his first six games as the Falcons’ interim coach before losing the past four games. The team has appeared more organized than it did under Quinn. The Falcons pummeled the Las Vegas Raiders 43-6 in the last win Nov. 29.

After leaving Tampa Bay, Morris went to Washington (2012-14) and then to the Falcons (2015-present) and has worked with Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur and Quinn. Morris has coached offense and defense. He was the Falcons’ wide receivers coach from 2016-18.

Last season, he moved over to the defense and helped the team finish 6-2.

At end of the weekly media briefing Thursday, Falcons defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich made a heartfelt statement in support of Morris for the team’s head coaching position.

“In this day and age, this current player, this current culture in the NFL, there is not a better candidate in my opinion,” Ulbrich said. “You have to have the ability to relate to the current player. You have to have the ability to create the environment for the current player that is, it’s not necessarily built in the old NFL world in my opinion for these kids to thrive. They are just not raised the same way. Football is not played the same way. He’s one of those rare guys that has that ability to create that environment that is necessary.”

Morris was appreciative of Ulbrich’s comments.

“I signed Jeff Ulbrich yesterday as my agent,” Morris said. “He’s done a great job of really endorsing me. Just supporting me throughout the whole process. Brick is not only a great coach, he’s one of my better friends in life.

“Brick is one of the guys who can absolutely put his stamp on whatever he’s going to do. We love to talk about everything, communicate everything. His stamp is all over me as a person, me as a coach, our team, all of us and just in general.”

Falcons’ 2021 draft position

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

2. New York Jets

3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)

4. Falcons

5. Cincinnati Bengals

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