Raheem Morris was hired in late January to be the Falcons’ assistant head coach as well as the defensive backs coach. Morris has spent his last 3 seasons as the Washington defensive backs coach. In those 3 years, their secondary was a mess, but a lot of that was due to injuries and just an overall lack of talent. Prior to his time in Washington, Morris served as the head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A lot of Falcons fans might remember Morris’s final season as the head coach of the Bucs. The team went 4-12 and was in turmoil for the majority of the season. The situation did not make Morris look well, but he is still a very well respected defensive coach in the NFL.
Morris gained a lot of his respect around the league in his early years with the Buccaneers. He took over the defensive backs in 2004. The Buccaneers had the first overall passing defense in terms of passing yards in 2004. In 2005, the Bucaneers finished 6th in that category. Nobody wanted to face the Buccaneers defense in those years, and the secondary was one of the most feared in the league. Morris took the defensive coordinator job at Kansas State in 2006, and the Buccaneers secondary struggled. They ranked 19th in opponent’s passing yards in Morris’s absence. Morris returned to the Buccaneers in 2007 at the same position. The secondary ranked a top the league in opponent’s passing yards. Morris clearly made an impact coaching with the Bucs, and the secondary clearly responded to him. In 2008, the defense ranked 4th in opponent’s passing yards, and it was enough for the Bucs to make Morris the head coach in 2009.
Although the way Morris went out was far from fashionable, his early years with the Buccaneers were not bad. Tampa Bay elected to rebuild heading into the 2009 season, so Morris suffered through a 3-13 season. But Morris and his group bounced back in 2010 when nothing was expected of them. They finished the season 10-6 and just outside a very competitive playoff race. The Bucs came in with high hopes in 2011, but numerous locker room issues led to a dismal 4-12 season.
Morris’s reputation took a bump, but all of his great work prior to the 2011 season should not be ignored. He was a terrific defensive backs coach in Tampa Bay and even after the secondary struggled in Washington under Morris, the Redskins still elected to interview him for the defensive coordinator position. Morris might just be a guy who is better served to be an assistant coach. He really tries to connect with his players to get the most out of them. He had some talent available in Tampa Bay and was able to get the most out of it as an assistant. He should be able to really help improve a secondary with some talent, but also with some question marks.