Former Falcons were going to be crowned Super Bowl champions Sunday night regardless of who won between the Bengals and Rams. Ricardo Allen is a former safety of the Falcons but was released last offseason in a cap saving move. He signed with the Bengals last spring and had an instrumental role in Cincinnati’s defensive rise; however, it was Raheem Morris — a former defensive coordinator and interim head coach of the Falcons — who will be getting a Super Bowl ring with his eyes set on a potential head coaching gig.
Morris played a significant role in the Rams’ victory as their defensive coordinator. His game plan helped Los Angeles sack Joe Burrown seven times, tying a Super Bowl record for most sacks. They also made two massive fourth-down stops near midfield — one early in the game that led to the Rams’ first touchdown and one late in the fourth quarter that sealed LA’s first championship since 1999.
Morris’ rise to the top of the league as a coach has been atypical. Morris was actually the NFL’s youngest head coach at the time of his stop in Tampa Bay — only 32 years old in 2009. He was initially fired after three mediocre seasons as the Buccaneers head coach. Morris then returned to former boss Mike Shanahan in Washington but followed Mike’s son Kyle to Atlanta in 2015.
During the magical 2016 for the Falcons, Morris coached the wide receivers, which was a group littered with productive players because of the work of Morris. He used his defensive prowess to teach the wideouts what defenses were trying to do to stop them.
“He did an awesome job,” said Nick Williams, a wide receiver on the 2016 Falcons. “He really broke down what the defense is trying to do to you. He wanted us to be open to rethinking some things, and everyone trusted him.”
Morris enjoyed a promotion to defensive coordinator for the 2020 season, but he was quickly elevated to the title of interim head coach after Arthur Blank fired Dan Quinn following an 0-5 start.
After the 2020 season, Morris interviewed for the Falcons vacant head coaching position, but was ultimately beat out by Arthur Smith. Morris then traveled west to coach under Sean McVay and replaced Brandon Staley as the Rams’ defensive coordinator.
Morris’ unit gave up only 103.2 rushing yards per game, ranking sixth in the league in route to becoming Super Bowl champions. He’s now awaiting his next opportunity to become an NFL head coach as a 45-year-old and no longer a rising star in this league. He’s clearly made the climb up the ladder and deserves another shot. He interviewed with the Vikings, but Minnesota elected to go with Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell instead. Morris won’t get the chance to be the man in charge in 2021, but he’s undoubtedly looking forward to the moment he can call himself a head coach again.
“When [the opportunity] comes, I’m going to be absolutely ready because I’ve been able to learn from a bunch of different people, whether you’re talking about Dan Quinn, whether you’re talking about Mike Shanahan, whether you’re talking about my interim role in Atlanta and what I was able to learn from the Blank family and Rich McKay … those are all the things that get you ready for those moments,” Morris told reporters on Friday.