The Atlanta Falcons have selected Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as the team’s new head coach, according to press reports.
The hiring caps a news-filled two-week period, consisting of interviews of fourteen potential hires, including former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who was considered a prime candidate for the Falcons head coaching job, former Michigan head coach and future L. A. Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh, and Tennessee Titans Mike Vrabel. The Falcons gave second interviews to Morris, Belichick, Harbaugh, Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, and Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik.
Falcons plan to hire Rams’ defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as their head coach, per sources. pic.twitter.com/qlz3PbgEtJ
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 25, 2024
Morris is no stranger to Flowery Branch. He was previously an interim head coach for the Falcons from 2020, after the dismissal of Dan Quinn, to 2021, after which the last Falcons head coach, Arthur Smith, took over. He was also wide receivers coach (2016-19), and assistant head coach and pass game coordinator (2015-2019.)
He was also the head coach for Falcons’ longtime rivals Tampa Bay Buccanneers from 2009-2011. He spent his last three seasons as defensive coach for the LA Rams, where he helped the team win a Super Bowl in 2021. His all-time record as a head coach is 21-38.
CBS NFL insider Jonathan Jones reported that Morris met with Falcons owner Arthur Blank along with the rest of the executive brass and was very impressed with Morris. “One source said he ‘killed the interview.'” He said on X. “Another source said the group was impressed by his energy.”
The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reports Blank wanted to hire Belichick from the start, but “He was then open to listening to others ideas,” she said. “Some internal persuasion, impressive interviews, and here we are. Belichick is unemployed. Raheem gets his shot.”
Reaction to the Morris hire has been mostly positive. Kyle Shanahan reportedly said that Morris “would be my first choice for a head coach if I was an owner.” Miami Dolphins cornerback Jalen Ramsey said on X: “Falcons got one of, if not the best coach in the NFL for real!.” He added, “It ain’t just me who thinks this lol…ask any player who has played for Rah!” Former Falcon Roddy White said on X (Twitter); “I enjoyed competing with Rah when he was in Tampa, I enjoyed being coached by him when he was on the staff.” Falcons RB Bijan Robinson shared on Instagram: “Let’s gettt it going! God is faithful man.” Other current Falcons players voicing their approval on social networks were Grady Jarrett, Jessie Bates III and Kyle Pitts.
Morris becomes the first African-American head coach in Falcons franchise history and one of six current and future NFL head coaches of color: Jerod Mayo (Patriots), Antonio Pierce (Raiders), Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Todd Bowles (Buccaneers) and De Meco Ryans (Texans).
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 25, 2024
The Falcons have not yet confirmed their selection of Morris, but they did post a video of Morris during a practice session. The hiring was originally reported late Thursday evening by NFL insider Adam Schefter.