Raheem Morris: ‘That’s called winning football’

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris talks about "winning football" following the team's 40-23 win over the Vikings.

Credit: Atlanta Falcons

Here’s what Falcons coach Raheem Morris said after the 40-23 win over the Vikings on Sunday:

On the performance of the defense despite facing adversity during the week: “They did a nice job of going home on the Thursday that we were off and really locking into the details and getting those guys going. You have to give the guys credit for taking the virtual work, putting it into play today. Throughout the week, everything they did on the field, it started on Wednesday with a great practice. Came back with a great virtual day. Come back to finish fast on Friday and the guys went out and played well, particularly on third down.”

On where this team has been: “I can’t worry about where it’s been. I just have to worry about where it’s going. Next week, we have to prepare ourselves like we did this week to prepare to go 1-0 once again.”

On the key to the three first-half interceptions: “The guys really did a good job of dictating terms and showing disguise and coming out and really confusing them a little bit to get themselves in good position to make plays. A couple of great plays in there. A.J. with that acrobatic catch, Deion off the bat to make a really good play right from the beginning on a good throw. I was just fired up to see those guys to really come and play today and it’s awesome.”

On the importance of having WR Julio Jones back: “Anytime you talk about one of the best receivers, if not the best receiver in the game or over, it’s always good to have him. You know how much respect I have for Julio, how much fun I had coaching him and even more now just watching him going out there and play for his team, for his guys, for everybody involved. He’s great to be around.”

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On the ways in which he challenged players, specifically the run and hit players, throughout the week: “I don’t want to talk too soon. We’ll go back and watch the tape and we’ll see if we got everything that we wanted out of them, with the guys running, the guys hitting, the guys getting to the football and really causing problems. We talked to the offensive guys about leading and they absolutely did that at halftime. They got me going in the right direction to be aggressive in just some of the things we want to do there. It’s awesome. You ask your guys to stand up and they do it. Today, I gave those guys the keys. They took it and they ran with it and we were able to get a good win.”

On the locker room postgame: “For me, I always leave the locker room to the guys. They’re having a ball in there doing what they do, but the locker room is for the guys. That is what it is.”

On whether the running game was key to setting up the passing attack: “It was efficient. Our passing attack sets up the passing attack. Our running game allows us to dictate terms of what we’re able to do near the end. It allowed us to own time of possession and was able to get guys like Todd Gurley and get our guys really going, getting our run game going and being able to come off the ball aggressive. Even if it doesn’t have the mass production of yardage, it has the production of toughness and presents the things that we want to present. We love it.”

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) intercepts a pass intended for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during Minnesota's first offensive play Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Minneapolis. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

On the interception on the first play of the game: “Huge, man. When you go out and get a ball and bring it back, especially when you talk about doing your job – scoring or getting the ball back – and they went out and actually did that, that allowed us to score. Playing great complementary football is what you want to do.”

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On the importance of the goal-line stand for the defense following the fumble on offense: “I don’t know which one was more important, but I definitely know that felt really good, especially when you stop them on the one, you get the ball back and you’re able to punch out of there with your offense, you move down the field, you take up time of possession and you end the drive with points – that’s called winning football.”

On whether he saw something from QB Matt Ryan in practice that made him think he would perform at the level he did: “I’d be telling you a story if I told you it was different. The way Matt Ryan practices and the way he prepares is the same all the time. I’ve got the utmost respect, the utmost whatever you want to call it for the man and respect for the guy. He is unbelievable. He’ll always be that way. I’ll never say this week of practice was better than any other one because of how he always prepares.”

On CB A.J. Terrell’s performance: “Just proud to see the young man get going. He was brought here for a reason and he’s absolutely doing those things. He’s able to go out there and cover wideouts and be sticky in man coverage. Today, he touched the ball. That’s what he’d been showing us throughout camp and now in the season.”

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On whether the intensity in practice this week translated to the game: “I really did. It helped me to realize that now they know what being uncomfortable is like. It’s time to be comfortable being uncomfortable and it’s time to turn it up every single week.”

On clarifying his statement that the offensive players got him to be more aggressive: “The guys are really fired up. When they go out there and they try to get points and sometimes you go away with three and as a coach, you can get complacent. You can say, ‘That was a good drive.’ These guys want to score touchdowns and they turned it right back to me. It was coach to coach. It was player to player. We came back out and went right aggressive and got touchdowns. That’s what they want to do.”

On how it feels to have players talk about their personal connection and see them respond to his leadership: “It’s awesome to hear them talk about you, but I just know the guys and how they performed and how much they care about us. It’s not just me. It’s the whole coaching staff. It’s the organization. It’s Mr. Blank. It’s everything a part of it. These guys all perform for this city. It’s really a great part of who we are. It looked a little dirty today. Like, a little old-fashioned dirty birds. I loved it.”

On how he made players uncomfortable in practice this week: “We picked up the intensity a little bit. It was something that we had to do as a coaching staff. It wasn’t just me. It was all of our guys. We’re going to try to do it again, so come out and watch.”

On the key to building off this for the rest of the season: “I think the key is to go home and enjoy tonight, go back, look at it, evaluate, make the corrections, come out and be ready to play and be ready to finish games better than we did today.”

On the challenge of missing a practice this week: “These guys have been rolling with the punches all year. What they did this week was roll with the punches. We were closed on Thursday, absolutely take advantage of the Thursday virtual day. Come back ready to go. Get to our walk-through, extended walk-throughs, whatever they had to do to get ready and they absolutely did this week. I’m fired up for those guys.”

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, left, celebrates with quarterback Matt Ryan (2) after catching a 20-yard touchdown pass during the first half against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Minneapolis. (Bruce Kluckhohn/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

On the second touchdown from QB Matt Ryan to WR Julio Jones: “Matt Ryan is a scrambler. He’s the guy. He’s the new-age quarterback. He’s no longer a pocket passer.”

On whether he got a game ball today: “I’m not letting it go.”

On what getting a game ball meant to him: “It’s less about what it means to me. It’s about what it means to us. To reinvigorate the team, the city and everything about it. A little brotherhood mixed with a little dirty bird with a little collaboration for a win. Sounds good to me.”

Falcons' next four games

Lions at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday Oct. 25

Falcons at Panthers at 8:20 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29

Broncos at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8

Falcons at Saints at S1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22

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