The Falcons returned from the bye week with a shuffled coaching staff.
Head coach Dan Quinn announced three changes on Monday as the team begins the second half of the season after a 1-7 start.
Raheem Morris, who was the wide receivers coach, will switch back to the defensive side as an additional secondary coach. Morris will work with Jerome Henderson, the defensive passing game coordinator and Doug Mallory, the defensive backs coach.
In addition to the Morris move, Dave Brock, who had been the running backs coach, was moved back to his old position of wide receivers coach and Bernie Parmalee, who was an offensive assistant and assistant special teams coach, was moved back to his old position of running backs coach.
“We had a lot of things to evaluate and one of those was on the coaching side,” Quinn said on Monday. “You may have saw it today, we moved Raheem Morris to work with the defense. Part of his strengths are communication in the secondary.”
Quinn announced the move at the team meeting on Monday.
“I think as a DB group, we are looking or anything that will help,” free safety Ricardo Allen said. “I just want to win. If it helps us and it helps everywhere I’m all for it.”
The Falcons’ secondary has blown several coverages and missed a lot of tackles which have led to opposition explosive plays. The defense has given up 31 pass plays for 20 yards or more and 19 touchdown passes.
“We felt that was a spot that needed our attention at this space,” Quinn said. “For us it’s all hands on deck.”
Quinn and Morris go back to 1998 when Morris first started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Hofstra. Quinn was at Hofstra from 1996-2000.
“For years, we’ve watched tape together,” Quinn said. “Defensive side, offensive side, hey, let’s go watch third down together…”
Morris, who was the assistant head coach/wide receivers, won’t get a new title and no coach was terminated.
Morris, a former head coach and defensive coordinator, was originally on the defensive side of the ball when Quinn became the head coach in 2015. In 2016, he moved to coach the wide receivers.
“That’s one of Rah’s many powers, his ability to communicate and from a technique side he’ll bring fresh eyes over to the secondary in the communication space and that’s what we wanted to do,” Quinn said.
Quinn said some players allowed for the other staff adjustments.
“Part of the reason we are allowed to do this is that we’ve got huge leadership at wide receiver with Julio (Jones),” Quinn said.
In addition, Quinn said that linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich has been calling most of the defensive plays over the past three games.
“Jeff Ulbrich has taken on a good lion’s share of (defensive play calling),” said Quinn, who started the season as the defensive coordinator. “As we get to the game day, we’ll get more familiar with what we are doing. The main thing was with the players first and with their technique and communication. That’s one of the things I’ll really want to see ramp up over the second half of the season for us.”
The Falcons begin the second half of the season with their first game against an NFC South opponent at the Saints on Sunday.
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