Falcons assistant Raheem Morris finds his way in new role

With the Falcons OTAs set to end Thursday, Raheem Morris is getting comfortable in his new position.

In fact, he compared it with being a grade-school educator.

“It’s like being a math teacher and an English teacher,” Morris said Wednesday about his move from coaching the defensive backs to wide receivers this offseason. “If you are a teacher, you can get the curriculum and go teach whatever you need to teach. Everybody has their teaching styles. I am going to teach it this way — whether it is a walk-through or video session.”

Morris, Tampa Bay’s former head coach, has been an NFL coach for 14 years. The majority of those years have come as a defensive backs coach for Tampa Bay, Washington and Atlanta. He has never coached on offense in the NFL.

However, he feels that his defensive experience can help the Falcons’ receivers elevate to the next level.

“I think the guys like hearing about defensive football,” Morris said. “We’ve had coach Quinn in that room taking about defensive line play and myself talking about cornerback and safety play. These things include how they view the game, what a coordinator’s plans are and how they are going to attack us. All those things come into play, and it’s a great strength for me.”

The transition hasn’t always been easy.

Morris said he did have to sell himself on his core values. His pitch was to bring a different vibe, but not to attempt to replace former coach Terry Robiskie. Instead, he wants to enhance what the popular Robiskie started.

Robiskie left to become Tennessee’s offensive coordinator under coach Mike Mularkey.

“He brought a lot of knowledge and has been coaching football for a long time,” Morris said. “We are talking about a guy that coached Bo Jackson. I think what I can bring is myself. I bring energy, passion and my core beliefs to the system.”

One of the things Morris wants to improve is receiver efficiency.

Last season, receiver Julio Jones led the NFL in catches (136 receptions) and yards (1,871). He also had 106 more targets than anyone else on the team. This caused the offense to stagnate at times as teams doubled- and tripled-team Jones.

Morris also has to get free-agent signee Mohamed Sanu and second-year wide receiver Justin Hardy more involved.

“Hardy has as good of hands as anyone I’ve been around,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “He’s a very smart player. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s not scared of anything. I expect Hardy to help us out a lot this year.”

The plan includes working with the group’s mentality and effort.

“Those guys have the standard of how we want to play and how we want to block,” Morris said. “We want to go out there to out-run people, out-think people and out-compete people.”

According to Jones, that strategy has worked this offseason. The receivers are seeing new ways to win matchups.

“He brings that defensive mindset to the room, Jones said. “He sees things from a defensive perspective, and he shows us the way to attack defenses and what leverages that we need to attack.”

The skills have translated to the field. In practice, the receiving group was working on timing drills and gaining more confidence with quarterback Matt Ryan.

“It’s been a chance to learn more, grow more and bring some things to the table,” Morris said. “I take it as a great challenge.”