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Raheem Morris will interview for Falcons HC job today

The team’s interim head coach deserves the consideration, at minimum.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Raheem Morris has worn a lot of hats in the Falcons organization. From 2015-2019, he was the assistant head coach while simultaneously holding roles like defensive backs coach, wide receivers coach, and secondary coach. He began the 2020 season as the defensive coordinator before assuming the interim head coach job when his friend Dan Quinn was fired.

Morris has a surfeit of interesting experience, in other words, and that doesn’t even include his stint as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2011. Given that he’s piloted the 0-5 Falcons to a 4-6 record in the 10 games he’s served as the interim head coach and the defense has improved considerably since he and Jeff Ulbrich took on their new roles, Morris deserved to be part of the team’s search for a permanent head coach. As promised, the Falcons will interview him today for that job.

The timing is interesting. The season is not over and the Falcons do not have a new general manager, who might have his own preferred coaching candidates, which makes one wonder whether he’ll get a second interview down the line or if this is more of a courtesy. It has seemed apparent from the moment Morris was named interim head coach that the team wasn’t particularly likely to bring him aboard full-time unless he absolutely forced their hands by piloting the team to a (deeply unlikely) playoff berth, something Arthur Blank’s original comment about Morris being a serious candidate if he went 11-0 revealed. But Morris has done enough with a listless, lost-looking Falcons team to merit a real interview and likely will interview for other openings, as well.

The case against Morris as a head coach has been laid out multiple times, but it chiefly concerns the team’s continued failure in the final seconds of games and Morris’s heavy involvement in the defense when it was listless and terrible early in the year. The case for Morris is more nuanced, but it concerns the fact that the offense has repeatedly been the issue for the team’s failure and that lands heavily at the feet of Dirk Koetter and the players, the fact that he’s refreshingly blunt, willing to address problem areas head-on and focused on improvement, and that the team has fared far better defensively and overall since he took over from Dan Quinn. The thorough crushing of the Vikings looks less impressive as time goes on, but the beatdown of the Raiders and the near-win over the Chiefs (the first time a team held them under 20 points in a long time) have clearly been noticed around the league.

I don’t expect Morris to be the next head coach of the Falcons—I still firmly believe this team wants a fresh start throughout the front office and coaching staff—but it’d be a mistake to dismiss his candidacy given the difficult situation he stepped into and how well he’s handled it. This should just be the first interview for Morris, with the second coming as the new GM figures out their own preferred candidate list and weighs where the current interim head coach belongs on that list.