After starting 1-7 this season, the Atlanta Falcons decided to change up the staff. Raheem Morris is back on the defensive side of the ball coaching the defensive backs.
On Tuesday, head coach Dan Quinn was asked by reporters about Raheem Morris and the need for improvement on defense.
“The No, 1 thing is going to be communication first — the technique and the communication.” Quinn said, via The Falcoholic’s Jeanna Thomas. “The scheme part will certainly feel similar. He’s been part of that, and certainly, he and I have talked a lot. I would say the No. 1 role is going to be technique and communications.”
Quinn was then asked if the decision to move Raheem Morris was something he’d been considering for a while. Morris wasn’t surprised by it.
“He said, ‘I knew you were coming,’ so he knew it before I did. We spent a lot of time together,” Quinn said. “I thought, at this point, we hadn’t made the marks that we wanted to hit on, and I thought at this space, it’s all hands on deck to get it aligned like we’d like to. That’s why we did it.
“I think he’s done well with the receivers ... He’s always had good communication on the defensive side, certainly with me and with the other defensive coaches whether it was third down or two-minute — you may have even seen him at practice working with some of the guys in the secondary. He’s always been crossing over some, but we just made it a bigger emphasis now.”
Raheem Morris has a history of being a defensive backs coach, most notably with Tampa Bay (2007-2008), Washington (2012-2014) and Atlanta (2015-2016). He also played safety in college.
Dan Quinn was asked about the decision behind initially moving Raheem Morris to coach the wide receivers.
“I think part of the reason why we’re moving him back, he’s one of the best connectors that I’ve met. His ability to connect and talk to a group and bring it together, that’s been always one of his powers,” Quinn said. “I thought he would bring a fresh mindset to the offensive side when we moved him over. He has such a background on defense, so it wasn’t in that space, he was going to bring new offensive knowledge, but what he could share with the guys, ‘This is how they’re playing you,’ ‘This is how we’re going to try to attack,’ ‘This is where they’re weaker.’
“It was more in design to put him into that space. He just developed into the role and did well with it. There wasn’t a thought right away to move him back. I did think of it last year, but we didn’t do it at that time. I’m glad he’s doing it and glad we have the versatility to do it.”
In addition to Morris’ new role, assistant special teams coach Bernie Parmalee will now be coaching the running backs and Dave Brock is switching from running backs coach to take over for Morris as the wide receivers coach.
Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank is the ultimate decider on the future of the current coaching staff. Quinn was asked what Blank thinks about the decision to move Morris.
“He said it well — he said, ‘You’ve got a lot of smart people there. Utilize every resource that you have,’” Quinn said. “Raheem and I have also been talking about that. We felt this was the best thing to do for the team. It doesn’t just affect them, there are other moving parts that to go into it. We wouldn’t have been able to do it have we not had who we have at receiver.
“Dave’s [Brock] experience at receiver, Bernie’s [Parmalee] experience at running back, to have that ability to put (them) into those spaces, that was a big part of it too. Having his energy to bring over to the defensive side, we’re just a few days into it, but I thought players did a good job of adapting to that, and the coaches as well. It’s been a good start.”
With a 1-7 start, you can’t realistically expect any midseason coaching changes to dramatically improve the team, but the move was needed. It’s interesting that Arthur Blank not only kept Dan Quinn through the bye week, but also supports his shuffling of the current staff in hopes of turning this team around. We’ll see what kind of impact the coaching changes have on the team going forward.