Falcons Yet To Decide QB Direction; HC Raheem Morris Will Not Call Defensive Plays

The Falcons have a new (but familiar) head coach in place in the form of Raheem Morris, along with an adjusted organizational structure. With those moves taken care of, the team’s top priority will be acquiring an upgrade at the quarterback spot.

Both Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke are under contract for 2024, but their collective showings this season left plenty to be desired. Atlanta endorsed the former as a full-time starter based on his four-game performance to close out his rookie year, but he was benched on multiple occasions in 2023. Finding a replacement via trade, free agency or the draft will be a key objective for the Falcons, but a firm direction on that front has not yet emerged.

In the team’s press conference introducing Morris, it was revealed that he and general manager Terry Fontenot have only had “very limited” discussions to date about the QB spot (h/t ESPN’s Michael Rothstein). More than one month remains until the start of the new league year, but the Falcons’ plan with respect to finding a new starter will be worth following.

When you get those guys that are elite processors, when you get those guys that are decision makers,” Morris said. “When you get those guys that can just cut it loose and play ball and also play with those great fundamental techniques that we talked about… it makes you excited to go out there and find those things. And sometimes, it’s not easy to see.”

A number of veteran options (such as Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, Gardner Minshew and Ryan Tannehill) are set to reach free agency next month, so Atlanta will have short-term signal-callers to choose from. Passers such as Russell Wilson (Broncos), Justin Fields (Bears) and Zach Wilson (Jets) could also find themselves on the trade market in the near future. The Falcons hold the No. 8 selection in April’s draft, which will likely take them out of contention for the top QB three prospects in Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels. An upgrade under center would help the team rebound from a third straight 7-10 campaign and complement a young skill-position corps, one of the league’s top offensive lines and an improved defense.

Notably, Morris also said he will not serve as the Falcons’ defensive play-caller. Those responsibilities will instead go to DC Jimmy Lake, who followed Morris from the Los Angeles to Atlanta. Lake has never served as a defensive coordinator at the NFL level, but he held DC duties at Washington before becoming the school’s head coach in 2020. The Falcons ranked 11th in total defense in 2023, but the team has room for improvement in a number of categories on both sides of the ball moving forward. An uptick in passing efficiency fits the bill, and Atlanta’s search for a new quarterback will an intriguing storyline to follow.

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