I think it would be fair to say that fans are split on the Raheem Morris hire. That doesn’t seem to be the case across the wider NFL landscape, where the hire was met with a wave of positivity.
That has to be pleasant for the Atlanta Falcons, who have endured plenty of questions in recent weeks about their search for a head coach and the power structure in Flowery Branch. The Falcons are exuding confidence that Morris is the right hire, and more than that, that the process that got them here was the right one, and that the reality inside the building was very different than what it looked like outside the building.
Here’s a quick roundup of reactions to potentially shade in why the Falcons hired Morris, as well as some inside-the-building insight Into the process.
From the team
If you’re looking to understand how this process unfolded from the inside, AMB Sports & Entertainment Executive Vice President & Chief Brand and Communications Officer Brett Jewkes gave his view on why Morris impressed, how the process unfolded, and so forth.
Really excited to have Raheem Morris back in ATL as our head coach. It's been quite a month. Here are some insights from 'in the room' --— Brett Jewkes (@BJewkes) January 26, 2024
Raheem's first interview was electric; captured the crew on it -- many of whom had not ever worked with him.
Blank, who had the final say on the hire, lauded Morris for his experience and his growth over the past three years.
“This is a historic day for the Atlanta Falcons – after a comprehensive search we are thrilled to welcome Raheem Morris back to Atlanta as the team’s new head coach,” said Blank. “With 26 years of experience in the NFL, including the last three in an outstanding organization that has won our league’s championship in that time, Raheem emerged from a field of excellent candidates and is the right leader to take our team into the future. His time in LA has given him an enhanced perspective on everything from personnel, team operations, game planning, working with an outstanding offensive staff and many other things that has helped him develop into an even more prepared coach in all aspects of the game. I believe his leadership skills have grown and his understanding of what it takes to have a highly collaborative one-team culture are now at a much higher level.”
Terry Fontenot, meanwhile, gets a new partner in team-building and retains his power in the front office, giving him the opportunity to build on a terrific 2023 offseason with a new coach. He seems excited about it, per the team’s statement.
“I’m beyond excited to work side-by-side with Raheem in bringing a championship to Atlanta,” said Fontenot. “We have conducted one of the most thorough and comprehensive searches and saw many incredible candidates through this process. Raheem is the right fit for our team, culture, and shared vision for success in Atlanta, and I cannot wait to start working with him and have his energy in our building.”
It’s not hard to see that the Falcons
Several current players reacted favorably, from Kyle Pitts to Bijan Robinson, but I was most interested in hearing from Grady Jarrett. Aside from fellow franchise great Jake Matthews, who was drafted in the first round in 2014, no player has been through the ringer with this franchise more, and Jarrett is one of the team’s acknowledged leaders.
Reaction pouring in from players, I received a quote and a high vote of confidence in Raheem Morris from 2X pro bowler and defensive leader Grady Jarrett.— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) January 26, 2024
“We got the right guy to take us where we need to go, excited is an understatement I’m fired UP, Let’s Go!” #Falcons
He also has the franchise icon seal of approval from Roddy White, who overlapped with Morris in 2015.
I’m excited can’t Like congrats Rah. I enjoyed competing with Rah when he was in Tampa. I enjoyed being coached by him when he was on the staff. I just really like Rah he a real one.— Roddy White (@roddywhiteTV) January 25, 2024
And Mohamed Sanu, who spent multiple years working with Morris as the Falcons’ second receiver, also had glowing words for his former coach.
Appreciate @Mo_12_Sanu talking with me tonight on the Raheem Morris hire by the #Falcons. Morris was Sanu's WR coach in Atlanta. He gives high praise to his former coach.— Maria Martin (@Ria_Martin) January 26, 2024
"It's gonna be an exciting time in Atlanta to see that energy restored to how it's supposed to be." pic.twitter.com/PBNmlu0kDz
And longtime Falcons cornerback Robert Alford:
Let’s Gooooooo…My dawg back in Da A. This the mood all year pic.twitter.com/lcPZWV7vKd— Robert Alford (@rockorocky) January 25, 2024
There could be an entire subsection of this article just for Jalen Ramsey. The gifted cornerback has been perhaps Morris’s biggest defender and champion, and as long as you don’t mind swearing, this clip is perhaps the biggest eye-opener for how players feel about Morris.
Ramsey’s a Dolphin so he’s not likely to end up in Atlanta, but what he says about Morris goes way beyond what you would normally hear from a player about their coach.
Falcons got one of, if not the best coach in the NFL forreal! https://t.co/p24Q6U8aJv— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) January 25, 2024
From the Rams organization and other coaches
Sean McVay has talked a lot over the past three years about what Raheem Morris has meant to him, and he and Rams general manager Les Snead really went to bat for Morris in this hiring cycle.
Sean McVay on the Falcons hiring Raheem Morris:— Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) January 26, 2024
"Raheem has a charisma, presence and ability to communicate and connect with players and coaches that's truly unmatched.
"Atlanta hired an incredibly special coach, but an even more exceptional person who will lead the right way."
Rams general manager Les Snead was similarly impassioned in the run-up to Morris getting a job.
Here is Les Snead's 3-minute monologue on Raheem Morris' qualifications to be hired as a head coach during this cycle— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 19, 2024
"He will be able to hire an unbelievable staff... and I'm pretty sure there will be a lot of tampering charges. Because just about every player will text him… pic.twitter.com/2Ze8s6cuYz
Kyle Shanahan, who worked with Morris in both Washington and Atlanta, threw his endorsement behind Morris back in early January, as well.
Kyle Shanahan says Raheem Morris “would be my first choice for a head coach if I was an owner.” They meet again today. What Morris has done with a Rams defense of no-names in 2023 has been typically impressive. https://t.co/Vzbiusvq3J— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) January 7, 2024
Well-regarded Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has also thrown his support behind Morris in the past, at one point in 2022 calling him the best coach he knows who did not have a head coaching job.
The appreciation for Morris as a coach and person leaguewide is readily apparent from these quotes, and if nothing else, it should bode well for Morris as he goes to build a staff and attract players to Atlanta. Let’s hope the work Morris has put in building these relationships and earning this level of respect translates to success with the Falcons.