Newly minted Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris knows what his team’s mission is moving forward.
“At the end of the day, we have to find a way to put our foot on people’s throats and end games,” Morris said Tuesday. “That’s what has got to happen.”
Morris, who played for Dan Quinn in college at Hofstra and followed him into the college and then pro coaching ranks, took over for Quinn, who was fired Sunday.
Morris is charged with trying to get the Falcons turned around.
The Falcons (0-5) are set to face the Vikings (1-4) at 1 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“Our job as coaches is to identify problems,” Morris said. “Players' jobs are to fix them. Right now, we’re in the business of identifying problems. It’s starts this week.”
Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter
Morris, 44, was named head coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at age 32. He coached for three seasons after Tampa Bay fired Jon Gruden. He went 3-13, 10-6 and 4-12. He was fired after three seasons.
He went to Washington (2012-14) and then to Atlanta (2015-present) and has worked with Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Matt Lafleur and Quinn. Morris has coached on offense and defense. He was the Falcons' wide receivers coach from 2016-18 and studied Kyle Shanahan’s coaching tapes before taking the position to get a better understanding of the offense.
Last season, he moved over to the defense after the team went 1-7 in the first half. He helped the team finish six of the final eight to finish at 7-9 and was named the defensive coordinator for 2020.
Morris did not sugarcoat the Falcons' situation. It sounded pretty dire.
“Right now, we’ve got a lot of people in disarray both on the personnel side, on the coaching side, and everybody is trying to figure out what to do and how we are going to do it next,” Morris said. "My No. 1 job right now is to get all of this tied to together and find out how to win this next game.
“That’s what we are going to try to do, find a way to go out and get the next game won. We are going to focus our energy on that.”
Morris did not answer the question when asked if there would be any lineup changes. The official depth chart released by the team didn’t reflect any changes.
Morris, when he was Washington defensive backs coach, used to preach about having a gunfighter’s mentality.
“When you go out and play this game that we play, you give everything that you’ve got,” Morris said. “You put your all into it every single week when you go out there. ... However you look at it, you’re going to lose some games. There are going to be some things that don’t go your way. When you’re a really good gunfighter, you get shot.
“When you go out there and you shoot your gun, and you do the best job that you can do every single time, there are times that you’re not going to win.”
Morris' head coaching experience in Tampa Bay was a plus.
“He has the right kind of enthusiasm to lead the players I think in a positive way,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said. "He’s been an offensive coordinator and he’s worked with our receivers, understands that side of the ball well. He’s been a defensive coordinator.
“I think he’ll bring whatever new ideas and task the players in maybe ways they haven’t been tasked, maybe moving some folks around.”
Morris was widely credited with the defense’s turnaround over the second half of last season.
“Raheem was in the middle of a lot of that in terms of the defensive side of the ball,” Blank said. “There were quite a few changes made that he was a catalyst for. So, we’ll see if he’s able to do that again this year.”
Blank met with Morris at length Monday.
“He’s ready to go,” Blank said. “I know we made the right choice with Raheem. We’ll see where it takes us. The players will definitely be supportive of him. That I do know.”
Falcons' in-season firings:
This was the sixth time that the Falcons fired a coach during a season, and it’s tied for the second fewest games into a season for a Falcons coaching change.
Here’s the list:
Norb Hecker, three games (0-3), 1968
Marion Campbell, five games (1-4), 1976
Dan Quinn, five games (0-5), 2020
Norm Van Brocklin, eight games (2-6), 1974
Marion Campbell, 12 games (3-9), 1989
Dan Reeves, 13 games (3-10), 2003
Records for Falcons interim coaches
Wade Phillips, 2-1 (.667), 2003
Pat Peppler, 3-6 (.333), 1976
Emmitt Thomas, 1-2 (.333), 2007
Norm Van Brocklin, 2-9 (.222), 1968
Marion Campbell, 1-5 (.167), 1974
Jim Hanifan, 0-4 (.000), 1989
Raheem Morris, TBD, 2020
Note: Thomas replaced Bobby Petrino in 2007 when Petrino resigned after 13 games. Also, Campbell and Van Brocklin each had the interim label taken off their titles after their interim seasons.
D. Orlando Ledbetter, Esq is the award-winning Atlanta Falcons beat writer for the newspaper, has been on the staff since 2003. Every day D. Orlando strives to provide inside in the Falcons and the NFL. He finds the most joy in providing insight into the team, the coaching moves, the offseason business moves, the draft and the games.