Raheem Morris

Rams Hire Raheem Morris As DC

The Rams made it official Thursday. Raheem Morris will become the team’s third defensive coordinator in three years.

Morris will replace Brandon Staley, who made a late surge to land the Chargers’ HC job last week. While Morris has been a head coach and interim HC, this move marks the first time a team has hired the 44-year-old coach to become its defensive coordinator. Morris worked his way up to that role in Atlanta, rising to the position in 2020, after spending five seasons as a position coach under Dan Quinn. This interestingly included stays coaching the Falcons’ DBs and wideouts. The Falcons fired Quinn in October and promoted Morris but tabbed Arthur Smith as its full-time HC last week.

A former Tampa Bay head coach, Morris will reunite with Sean McVay in Los Angeles. McVay’s first NFL job, as an offensive assistant, was under Jon Gruden with the 2008 Buccaneers. Morris coached Tampa Bay’s DBs that season, prior to being promoted to head coach in 2009. The pair again worked together in Washington, with their tenures as OC (McVay) and DBs coach (Morris) overlapping in 2014.

With this move coming four days after Staley’s departure, the Rams did not conduct a wide-ranging search before hiring Morris. The longtime Falcons coach, however, interviewed for the Atlanta full-time HC gig and met with the Jaguars about their HC and DC positions. The Rams are coming off a season in which they used a bevy of defensive schemes to rank first in both scoring and total defense. With Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey signed long-term, Morris will enjoy a personnel upgrade from the defense he coached in Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

GM/Coach Notes: Broncos, WFT, Jaguars, Chargers, Dolphins

George Paton was introduced as the Broncos general manager today, and the executive gave a thoughtful response when explaining how he’d help to reestablish a winning culture in Denver.

“There’ll be no shortcuts,” Paton said (via the team website). “We’re going to embrace the day-to-day [process], we’re going to embrace the grind, and we’re going to do it together. … We’re going to be progressive, we’re going to be innovative, we’re going to be forward-thinking and we’re going to use all the information at our disposal to make the best informed decisions.”

Paton also noted the importance of hitting in the draft and being innovative in their evaluation of potential acquisitions.

“Drafting and developing players will be our foundation,” Paton said. “It’s going to be the lifeblood of this football team.”

Paton joined the Broncos on a six-year deal. Under the restructured front office, Paton and head coach Vic Fangio will report to John Elway, who will have less to do with the team’s day-to-day roster decisions.

Let’s check out some more GM and coaching notes…

  • Washington previously interviewed Eric Stokes for their open general manager vacancy, reports Jason La Canfora (via Twitter). The 47-year-old has been working in NFL front offices since 2002, including stints with the Seahawks, Buccaneers, Dolphins, and Panthers. He joined Washington as their director of pro scouting this past summer. We learned yesterday that Washington is expected to ultimately hire former Panthers GM Marty Hurne for the position.
  • Scott Linehan and Joe Cullen will interview for the Jaguars open coordinator positions this week, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). We learned of Urban Meyer‘s interest in both coaches this past weekend. Linehan, who’s candidate for the offensive coordinator gig, has had a long coaching career, including a stint as the head coach of the Rams. Cullen, a candidate for the defensive coordinator opening, has served as Baltimore’s defensive line coach since 2016. Rapoport notes that Raheem Morris was also a candidate for the defensive coordinator opening, but we’ve since learned that Morris will be taking the same role with the Rams.
  • The Chargers won’t be retaining offensive line coach James Campen, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Campen spent more than a decade with the Packers, and following a one-season stint with the Browns, Campen joined the Chargers as their offensive line coach this past offseason. However, he won’t stick around, as Schefter notes that new head coach Brandon Staley will be bringing in his own OL coach.
  • The Dolphins have parted ways with offensive line coach Steve Marshall and promoted Lemuel Jeanpierre to the role, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Marshall has spent more than a decade coaching in the NFL, and he joined Miami this past offseason. Jeanpierre has spent time on the Seahawks, Raiders, and Dolphins coaching staffs, serving as Miami’s assistant offensive line coach in 2020.

Rams Likely To Hire Raheem Morris As DC

After Brandon Staley landed the Chargers’ head coaching job, the Rams are moving quickly to replace him. The Rams are “focusing” on Raheem Morris as their new defensive coordinator, sources told Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Garafolo cautions that the deal isn’t quite done yet, but it’s “looking like he will be the one” to replace Staley. It’s been a busy past six months for Morris, who started the 2020 season as Atlanta’s defensive coordinator before getting promoted to interim head coach when Dan Quinn was fired after five games. The Falcons went on an initial hot streak under Morris, leading to some reporting that he had impressed team brass and could be a real candidate for the full-time job there, but the team ultimately fizzled down the stretch and then hired Arthur Smith instead.

He still got an interview from Atlanta, and also got a head coaching interview with the Jaguars. After the Jags hired Urban Meyer, he interviewed with Jacksonville for their DC role. Rapoport added in a follow-up tweet that Morris was “the target in several other places,” so it sounds like the Rams won a bidding war of sorts.

There had been some talk that the Rams could go in-house to replace Staley, like with cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant, but clearly Sean McVay had other ideas. Morris was previously the head coach of the Buccaneers for three seasons from 2009-11, where he went 17-31.

He’s highly regarded in league circles though, and had the Falcons fighting really hard despite the 0-5 start. With Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey at his disposal, he’ll have a lot of talent to work with in Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars To Interview Raheem Morris For DC

New Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer is no stranger to success as a sideline general, but the professional game brings with it a whole host of considerations and problems that don’t exist at the college level. Perhaps as a result of that, Meyer is eyeing a former NFL head coach for his defensive coordinator post.

As Albert Breer of SI.com reports (via Twitter), Raheem Morris will interview for the Jacksonville DC job this week. Morris actually interviewed for the team’s HC gig after he finished out the 2020 campaign as the Falcons’ interim head coach, and he of course served as the Buccaneers’ HC from 2009-11. In total, Morris has a 21-38 head coaching record.

Despite that less-than-impressive mark, Morris remains well-respected both as a coach and as a defensive mind. He got the Falcons to show some signs of life this year after Dan Quinn‘s dismissal, and he did get an interview for Atlanta’s full-time HC position, which ultimately went to Arthur Smith. He was also a potential candidate for the Raiders’ DC job, though Vegas opted for Gus Bradley instead.

Morris will have a lot of work to do if he joins the Jags. The club has some talent on the defensive side of the ball, but it did finish towards the bottom of the pack in terms of total defense this year.

Breer notes that Meyer was considering Quinn for the DC position — Quinn recently accepted the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator job — and that Meyer is a big fan of the type of scheme that Quinn ran in Seattle earlier this decade. After having worked for Quinn for six years in Atlanta, Morris would presumably bring some of those same concepts in addition to his own defensive acumen.

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com first reported (via Twitter) that Morris and Meyer were in contact about the defensive coordinator position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-27-21 (7:05pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Jaguars To Interview Eric Bieniemy, Robert Saleh, Raheem Morris

Clarity emerged in the Jaguars’ Doug Marrone replacement search Tuesday. The Jags are set to interview Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and former Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris this week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

While Urban Meyer has been the name most closely connected to this search, no interview has been scheduled. Bieniemy will speak with Jags brass Wednesday, with Morris and Saleh interviews on tap for Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

Now a regular on the HC interview circuit, Bieniemy has been Kansas City’s OC since Patrick Mahomes‘ QB1 tenure began. While Bieniemy is not the Chiefs’ primary play-caller, he has long been expected to land a coaching gig this year. He may hit for the cycle in coaching interviews as well. The Chargers have requested an interview with their former running back. The Lions have already interviewed Bieniemy, while the Jets and Falcons will speak with him as well.

Saleh would be an interesting hire. He has a history with the Jaguars during Shad Khan‘s ownership tenure. The current 49ers defensive play-caller spent three seasons (2014-16) as Jacksonville’s linebackers coach. A Michigan native, Saleh has been most closely connected to the Lions job and has already interviewed with the Falcons. The Bolts submitted an interview request as well.

Re-emerging on the HC radar for the first time in many years, Morris interviewed for the Falcons job he held during this season’s second half and has come up in the Raiders’ defensive coordinator search. The Jags are the first non-Falcons franchise to request a Morris HC meeting, however.

The Jaguars have also requested an interview with Titans OC Arthur Smith, joining every other HC-seeking team in that regard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Request Raheem Morris Interview

The Jaguars have requested an interview with Raheem Morris, as Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets. The Falcons’ interim head coach is also up for the job in Atlanta, but he may have better odds elsewhere.

[RELATED: Latest On Urban Meyer]

Morris began the year as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator before taking over for Dan Quinn midway through the year. After he took over, the Falcons posted a 4-7 record and showed some signs of improvement. Between that and his time with the Bucs, he has a lifetime 21-38 record as a head coach.

Much of the chatter surrounding the Jaguars’ vacancy has been centered around Urban Meyer. But, depending on who you ask, the big-name college coach may be seeking upwards of $12MM per year to jump to the pros. Also, there’s still a chance that he could pass on the chance to jump to the NFL, or that someone like Morris could shine brighter throughout the process.

The Jaguars are also looking at 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as well as Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. And, at the same time, they’re in the midst of their GM search. On Tuesday morning, former Browns GM Ray Farmer became the latest name in that group.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Interview Gus Bradley For DC, Latest On Search

The Raiders fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther with a few games left in the season, and now that 2020 is over Jon Gruden needs to find a replacement. The day after Week 17, the search is already heating up.

Las Vegas is interested in Chargers DC Gus Bradley and has requested an interview with the former Jaguars head coach, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). With Los Angeles firing Anthony Lynn Monday, it appears unlikely Bradley will be back with the Chargers in 2021, so it’d be surprising if they blocked the interview. Rapoport calls him a “top candidate” for the job of turning around the Raiders’ lackluster defense.

Bradley’s defenses have played at a high level at times during his four years with the Chargers, but they also severely underperformed their talent this season. Of course he was also dealt some unlucky blows, like the significant injuries to guys like Derwin James, Chris Harris, Melvin Ingram, and Joey Bosa. Bradley had an uninspiring run as the Jags’ head coach from 2013-16, where he went 14-48. He initially received recognition for coordinating the Seahawks’ impressive defense from 2009-12.

If Bradley doesn’t end up with the gig, Rapoport identifies a couple of other potential candidates as well. That being Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris and Rams linebackers coach Joe Barry. As Rapsheet notes, Morris could land a head coaching job this cycle.

Interestingly, Morris coached under Gruden in Tampa Bay, and then took over as the Bucs’ head coach in 2009 when Gruden was fired. Barry was also on Gruden’s Tampa Bay staff, and has been an assistant head coach/linebackers coach under Sean McVay the past four seasons.

Falcons Interview Raheem Morris

The Falcons are giving Raheem Morris a chance to take off his coat and stay a ‘while. On Friday, Atlanta’s interim head coach interviewed for the full-time position, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets

[RELATED: Falcons Impressed With Morris]

Morris began the year as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator before taking over for Dan Quinn in the fall. The Falcons have been fared better since then, even if the record doesn’t exactly show it. The Falcons, on track for a top-five draft pick, will at least consider Morris for the job in 2021.

Morris may not the clubhouse leader for the job, but he definitely has fans in the building. The Falcons have been impressed with his work, and his strong ties with team president Rich McKay are a definite plus. Morris has been with the Falcons in a number of different roles since 2015. He was also one of the youngest head coaches in NFL history when he led the Buccaneers from 2007-09.

Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy may be the Falcons’ top choice and other candidates may get priority over the 44-year-old Morris. But, even if things don’t work out in Atlanta, Morris could easily wind up as a head coach elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching/GM Notes: Hurney, Lewis, Morris, Lynn, Gettleman

The Panthers made a big splash Monday by firing GM Marty Hurney. Although the timing was interesting since Carolina’s season will be over in just a couple of weeks, it wasn’t the result of any sudden developments or changes. The move had apparently been in the works for a while, as Albert Breer of SI.com was told that Hurney was in the final year of his contract and that he and owner David Tepper had been talking about an exit for weeks now (Twitter link). Breer adds that the analytics-minded Tepper wants to “modernize” the personnel side. As for names to keep an eye on for the now vacant role, Breer tweets that 49ers VP of player personnel Adam Peters is one to watch. Peters played for Panthers head coach Matt Rhule back when Rhule was the defensive line coach at UCLA.

It sounds like Tepper knows more or less what he wants, and accordingly the relatively new owner told the media on Monday he won’t be using an outside search firm like some teams for the GM opening. To clarify on the modernization, David Newton of ESPN.com reiterates that the Panthers will look for a new GM who “is driven by data and analytics, characteristics that didn’t define” Hurney. Carolina seems to have found their coach of the future with Rhule but they’ve still got plenty of questions to address moving forward, like whether or not Teddy Bridgewater is the long-term answer under center. Who they hire here should tell us a lot about the direction they plan to take.

Now that we’ve broken down most of the Hurney fallout, let’s pivot to the rest of the front office and coaching staff talk around the league:

  • Former Texans GM Rick Smith looks like a hot candidate this cycle. Smith recently interviewed with the Falcons, and sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports that he’ll interview with the Lions soon. That’s not all, as sources also told La Canfora that Washington is interested in having Smith run their football operations. We heard back in January that Washington almost hired Smith before electing not to hire a front office head for the time being, so this isn’t too surprising. VP of player personnel Kyle Smith is currently overseeing things for Washington, but sources told La Canfora that the team is “very likely to fill a traditional general manager spot” this offseason. Smith left Houston after the 2017 season when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, and is generally well regarded around the league.
  • Speaking of guys looking to get back into the league after a hiatus, we might not have seen the last of Marvin Lewis. The former long-time Bengals coach is “under consideration for several head coaching opportunities in 2021,” sources told La Canfora. Lewis was never able to make a deep playoff run in Cincy, but he undeniably did an incredible job turning them from a perennial laughing stock and doormat to annual contender in the AFC North for a while. After spending an impressive 16 season roaming the Bengals’ sideline, he’s spent the past couple years on Herm Edwards’ staff at Arizona State. La Canfora writes that “numerous teams have indicated an interest in speaking to Lewis,” although he doesn’t specifically name any. Lewis reportedly received strong interest from both the Cowboys and Washington during last year’s cycle, and it sounds like this could be the year he makes it back in.
  • Finally, a few notes via Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com. The Falcons managed to turn their season around a bit after firing Dan Quinn, although things have started to go off the rails again in recent weeks. The initial success led to some buzz that interim coach and former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris could be a candidate for the full-time job, although Pauline throws some cold water on that. Pauline says there’s a “very slight chance” they keep Morris, noting people who he has talked to won’t completely rule it out. That being said, he hears that Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy is still at the top of their list.
  • Anthony Lynn and the Chargers have now won back to back games, but Pauline writes he’ll need a “miracle” to save his job. One source he talked to put the odds of Lynn returning at 20 percent, and he writes that’s a best-case scenario for the embattled Los Angeles coach. Lynn has made a number of high profile game management blunders in recent weeks, and Pauline writes the consensus of “well-connected” people is that he’ll be fired. With a talented roster and a stud young quarterback in Justin Herbert, the Chargers’ job should be an attractive one.
  • While a lot of these decisions already appear to be more or less set in stone, Pauline says that Giants GM Dave Gettleman’s status is genuinely undecided and up in the air. He writes that it’ll depend on what happens the rest of the year (presumably whether the G-Men win the NFC East), and that there’s been no “definitive decision.” However, Pauline does say that as of right now he hears the Giants are “more comfortable” getting rid of Gettleman and bringing in someone new to work alongside first-year coach Joe Judge, who people inside the building are apparently “ecstatic” about. As one that could seemingly go either way, the situation in New York will be one of the most interesting to monitor the last couple weeks. What happens with Gettleman could also very well determine whether the team runs it back with Daniel Jones or looks for a new quarterback this offseason.