MONDAY, 10:21am: The Falcons have officially announced the hiring of Henderson as their defensive passing game coordinator, and confirmed Morris’ reassignment.
SUNDAY, 3:42pm: The Falcons have hired Cowboys defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson as their defensive passing game coordinator, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Raheem Morris, who previously held that title for Atlanta, will become the club’s offensive passing game coordinator and receivers coach, reports Albert Breer of NFL.com (Twitter links).
Henderson, 46, has been a hot name on the coaching carousel this offseason, having been linked to a number of assistant jobs around the league in addition to interviewing for the Browns’ head coaching vacancy. Henderson also met with the Jaguars regarding their defensive coordinator position, and was linked to gigs on the Dolphins’ staff under new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
While Henderson had suggested that he wouldn’t leave Dallas for anything other than a promotion (which could have been taken to mean a coordinator role), the move to defensive passing game coordinator presumably represents a step up. Morris, meanwhile, also has the title of assistant head coach in Atlanta, so the club and head coach Dan Quinn evidently had a bit more leeway to move Morris around on staff without technically demoting him.
But given that Morris has never coached offense in any capacity, moving him to the opposite side of the ball is certainly an odd move. The entirety of Morris’ coaching career — exempting his years as Tampa Bay’s head coach — has been spent on defense, mostly in the secondary. It’s possible that Atlanta wanted to keep him on staff in any role possible, regardless of specifics — the Bengals did something similar in 2012, naming Hue Jackson as an assistant in the secondary despite Jackson having spent his career coaching offense.
We first heard Friday that Henderson would be interviewing for a position with Atlanta, but the club made it clear in its release that incumbent defensive coordinator Richard Smith would not lose his title. Additionally, Falcons defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel yesterday turned down an opportunity to become the Jaguars’ defensive passing game coordinator, so Henderson couldn’t take on the role of secondary coach in Atlanta, either.
Meanwhile, Cowboys safeties coach Joe Baker is expected to assume Henderson’s responsibilities in Dallas, becoming the full-time secondary coach, per Rapoport (Twitter link).