Following the announcement on Sunday that the Atlanta Falcons were parting ways with head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff after an 0-5 start to the season, the team announced on Monday that defensive coordinator Raheem Morris would take over the role of interim head coach.
Morris has a connection to the local area, as he was Washington's defensive backs coach from 2012-2014 after being the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009 to 2011. During that time, Washington appeared in the playoffs in 2012 but won just seven combined games in the next two seasons.
Following his departure from Washington, Morris assumed the role of assistant head coach and defensive backs coach in Atlanta. Since then, he's acted as the wide receivers and secondary coach before being named the defensive coordinator for the 2020 season.
Morris' coaching experience dates back all the way to 1998 when he was a graduate assistant with Hofstra. He broke into the NFL in 2002 as a defensive quality control coach with the Buccaneers.
According to ESPN's Vaughn McClure, Morris played a large role in Atlanta's 2019 turnaround that saw the team go 6-2 after a 1-7 start. In the winning stretch, Morris began working with defensive backs.
Now, the Falcons will be looking for a similar spark in 2020 following a nightmare start to the season. Despite having star power on offense, poor play and injuries have put the team in a tough position at 0-5.
Though Morris' career record as a head coach is 17-31, there is hope that his experience and defensive knowledge will point the Falcons in the right direction. The defensive side of the ball has been a major struggle this season, as teams have been able to run, pass and score on Atlanta at will.
"Raheem is a strong leader and a talented coach that has adapted to a variety of roles since joining the Falcons in 2015," Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay said in a statement. "He has experience as a head coach and has worked on both sides of the ball. We felt that combined with his connection to the players and coaching staff, which will be an important factor as we move forward in 2020, he was the right person to give this responsibility to."