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Raheem Morris is off to the best start of any interim coach in Falcons history

At 3-1, Morris in company with exactly no one else.

Detroit Lions v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Raheem Morris has coached exactly four games as the man in charge for the Atlanta Falcons, and he’s managed to pilot this team to a 3-1 record in those four games. That gives him the best start by record of any interim coach in team history.

The Falcons have had a number of interim coaches in their history, but nearly all of them have failed and failed spectacularly because the Falcons are a team with a history of failing and failing spectacularly. Those interim coaches rarely had the skill to pilot a bad team to more victories, and the teams themselves were rarely any good. Here’s what I mean:

Marion Campbell, 1974: 1-5

Pat Peppler, 1976: 3-6

Jim Hanifan, 1989: 0-4

Wade Phillips, 2003: 2-1

Emmitt Thomas, 2007: 1-3

The best part of this list remains Campbell, the icon of disinterested ownership making weird decisions. After going 1-5 in 1974, he stayed in Atlanta through five games of the 1976 season, putting up a 6-19 record overall as the team’s head coach. The Falcons re-hired him in 1987, over a full decade later, and he rewarded them with an 11-32 record over three seasons. The Atlanta Falcons, ladies and gentlemen!

As mentioned, Morris is 3-1, giving him the best start by an interim coach in team history. Only Wade Phillips also managed a winning record as an interim coach, which is unsurprising because Phillips is a good coach but very surprising considering the Falcons were leaning on the likes of Doug Johnson and Kurt Kittner to get them through that godawful season. I was reminded that the Falcons got Vick back, though, which certainly helped Phillips. The Falcons of 2003 did not have the advantages of a defense with enough talent to lift them up or a good offense, as they finished 20th in points and 29th in yards on offense and 30th in points allowed and 32nd in yardage allowed.

That’s not to diminish what Morris has done, however, because I don’t think anyone thought after a 0-5 start that Morris was going to be able to pilot this team to three wins in four games. While he can’t be let off the hook for the way this defense performed throughout the first five games, the team’s willingness to blitz more and general defensive improvement over the last few games has been a difference maker.

The big question is where Morris and the Falcons go from here. They have seven games left after the bye for Morris to make his case to be the team’s permanent head coach, or at least to push for a job somewhere and cement his legacy as this team’s most successful interim head coach. The tough slate of games ahead and this team’s ongoing raft of problems may prevent him from finishing this stint with a winning record, but I’m not betting against him defying our modest expectations for a bit longer.