UPDATE: It’s official already.
The Falcons are expected to formally announce an interim head coach today, which led to plenty of speculation about who that choice would be. There were discussions about Raheem Morris, Jeff Ulbrich, and even Dirk Koetter, which sent a shudder down the spines of Falcons fans everywhere.
Per Vaughn McClure at ESPN, it’ll be Raheem Morris. It’s the most logical move.
Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris expected to be named interim head coach, according to a league source. Morris has coached on both sides of the ball in Atlanta. He was coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2011 with a 17-31 record. Now... https://t.co/5d8DCQ4ifu— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) October 12, 2020
Morris was a head coach for three seasons in Tampa Bay, mixing two losing seasons with a 10-6 mark that somewhat preposterously ended up being 3rd in the NFC South in 2010. From there, he spent three seasons in Washington as a defensive backs coach before joining Atlanta alongside his good friend Dan Quinn and spending time as the assistant head coach, defensive backs coach, wide receivers coach, and secondary coach. His mix of experience, the respect we’ve heard for him from players and coaches, and the varied roles he’s held here and his understanding of the challenges the Falcons face on offense and defense made him the logical choice here.
Ulbrich is a much less seasoned coach, even if he had the de facto assistant head coach title with Quinn here (and will likely retain it under Morris), so he was a long shot for the gig. Koetter has head coaching experience and more familiarity with the Falcons than just about anyone from two stints as the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, but I think the team understood how unpopular he would’ve been as the interim, and Morris is a potential hot coaching hire in the offseason and Koetter...is not.
Morris will be tasked with piloting a dispirited, banged up locker room through the remaining 11 games, trying to coax better performances out of this roster while also executing what I hope is a mandate from Rich McKay to ensure players who will be critical to this team’s future find themselves with playing time. It’s a tough balancing act for certain, but this will be Morris’s opportunity to show his coaching chops and push for either the Falcons job or another team’s head coaching vacancy in the offseason ahead. It’ll be interesting to see if Morris continues to call plays on third downs or if he relinquishes that role to either Ulbrich or another member of the defense, and whether that results in any improvements. This team is such a mess right now that Morris clearly has his work cut out for him just getting them back to being competitive.
Expect an official announcement at some point today.