Q&A: Raheem Morris on helping to call the defensive signals

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Falcons assistant coach Raheem Morris discusses the team's renewed defensive efforts. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Morris also helped call the defense in 2015 with Richard Smith

The secondary’s play improved immensely after spending one week with Falcons assistant head coach/defensive backs Raheem Morris.

Here’s what Morris had to say on Thursday:

Q: A lot was made about the play calling. With Jeff (Ulbrich) was doing the first two downs and you doing third down and two minutes. Is that true? 

A: "You know, you plan it. Jeff did first down and second down. I was able to chime in on third down and do third downs, two-minutes and once you get in the red zone you follow the same format. First, second down and third down. It just made us more efficient and helped us out a lot better. A lot was made of that. When you plan it. You all plan it together. So we plan on the same thing and it's just a person reading off the sheet. We did a nice job of working together and working for each other. I just think that was probably the most helpful part. Bouncing ideas off of each other, all of us, going to work and having a successful game. It was fun."

Q: Have you ever been in a complimentary play-calling role where it’s been multiple guys doing it at once? 

A: "Yes, we did it here in 2015. My first year with myself and Richard Smith. It's been done here in the past with other people. A lot of people do it that way. A lot of people are in situations where they have a guy that is constantly focusing on third downs, constantly focusing on situations. So, when they come up, he can be ready to have a suggestion....It's no different than what most people do. You do it on offense as well. You may just talk about it in between series as opposed to through the series. But it happens that way. It's no different than coming in at halftime, being on offense and talking to Dirk about the next third down. You've got to move those boxes around just to get ready for the next half. Or, in between series, if they do ask. It just all depends on the person that is in charge of making the play calls."

Q: How did the personnel changes in the secondary work? 

A: "For me, it worked for really well because I moved right into that roll and it was the first week they were all doing it so it didn't feel real different to me. It just felt like (Kendall) Sheffield was the nickel. It felt like Blidi (Wreh-Wilson) was outside and (Damontae) Kazee went back to (free) safety and we had Rico (Ricardo Allen) playing strong, which they are all equipped to do....We know (Desmond) Trufant tried to make it last week and we were able to use Blidi in a roll to step up and make some plays. He was able to go out there and play and played really successfully."

Q: How will things align when Trufant gets back in there?

A: "There is no doubt that Tru is our guy. When he's ready, we'll put him back out there. How much he plays will be based on conditioning. He hasn't played in a couple of weeks. How much you think he can do? All of those decisions will be made based on the week of practice. He had a really good practice (on Wednesday). Let's get him back out there (Thursday) and see how much he can practice. I'm very comfortable with that....We want to see what he can do and where he can get to….These guys know their bodies as well as anybody….but the nice part about it is that you have four or five guys that are capable of going out and playing. You saw Jordan Miller go in for a couple plays, going in for Blidi when he got a little tired, a little gassed. It was nice to see go out there and start in the nickel (at left cornerback). It was nice to go see (Isaiah) Oliver and Sheffield start in the base for that week. It was nice to see all of those capable guys go out there and play and play well, it was a good thing. It was a wonderful problem."

Q: How did you help the players with anticipating the route combinations that the Saints were going to run? 

A: "Routes and concepts are things that I've kind of learned over the last few years working on offense. What those routes look like. What those concepts are. Everybody in the National Football League has similar concepts so when you talk about them you talk about how you ran them and how they related to your offensive player. They may be referring to me kind of walking and talking them through some of the adjustments as far as what a guy is going to look like against us as opposed to what he looks like on tape that may look a little different. So, walking them through that whole thing and that process is something that you do every week. I was always able to do that when I was coaching defense the first time, but now by doing the offense (I've) got a little bit more knowledge. Like I told you guys before, working with a Kyle Shanahan, working with Dirk Koetter, working with Steve Sarkisian as your offensive coordinators and seeing some of their adjustments and some of the way they do things has been awesome. Then you take it and you're able to apply it back the other way…then you give it to the players and how it applies to them. There are only certain things that will apply to the outside corners and certain things that apply to the safeties. You want to get those indicators on what people are trying to do to them so that they can play against them."

Q: How do you assess the Panthers wide receivers?

A: "You're talking about a top flight wideout crew. These are all guys who came out over the past couple of years that I've been able to workout and evaluate. D.J. Moore was one of our top guys that year when we drafted Calvin (Ridley). He got drafted right before Calvin. When you talk about Curtis Samuel, coming out of Ohio State, he was a highly rated guy on my list….(Jarius) Wright brings a lot of the inside stuff that Mohamed Sanu had."

Q: Why was the communication so much better against the Saints? 

A: "….The coaches focused on having no gray areas. Going into that game, if was any questions that the coach didn't present and the players didn't ask, we felt like it was your fault whether if it be a coach or a player."

Quinn denied the report that Hooper will miss four games.“Not from this building,” Quinn said when asked about the report.Also, punter Ryan Allen will not practice and quarterback Matt Ryan will be limited today. “It will be a longshot for Hoop and Free,” Quinn admitted for the Panthers game.

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