Atlanta Falcons Communications
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Atlanta Falcons are naming Raheem Morris as the team’s new head coach. Morris and Falcons General Manager, Terry Fontenot, will report directly to Arthur M. Blank, Atlanta Falcons owner and chairman on all football matters. Rich McKay remains CEO of AMB Sports and Entertainment (AMBSE) and continues to represent the team on league matters and the NFL’s Competition Committee. Greg Beadles remains President of the Falcons and will continue overseeing all day-to-day business operations.
Morris becomes the 19th head coach in Atlanta Falcons history and takes over the club after spending the past three seasons (2021-23) as defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. During his tenure with the Rams, Los Angeles made two postseason appearances and captured a title in Super Bowl LVI.
“This is a historic day for the Atlanta Falcons – after a comprehensive search we are thrilled to welcome Raheem Morris back to Atlanta as the team’s new head coach,” said Blank. “With 26 years of experience in the NFL, including the last three in an outstanding organization that has won our league’s championship in that time, Raheem emerged from a field of excellent candidates and is the right leader to take our team into the future. His time in LA has given him an enhanced perspective on everything from personnel, team operations, game planning, working with an outstanding offensive staff and many other things that has helped him develop into an even more prepared coach in all aspects of the game. I believe his leadership skills have grown and his understanding of what it takes to have a highly collaborative one-team culture are now at a much higher level.”
Over the past three seasons, Los Angeles’ defense has recorded the fourth-best red zone efficiency rating and the seventh-fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL. His 2023 unit was one of the youngest in the NFL but helped the Rams earn a playoff berth and featured Rams third-round rookie defensive linemen Kobie Turner, a finalist for the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Turner and Byron Young tallied a combined 17 sacks, finishing first and second among all rookies. Turner’s nine sacks matched three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald’s franchise rookie record (nine in 2014), while Young’s eight sacks ranked third among rookies in franchise history.
“I’m beyond excited to work side-by-side with Raheem in bringing a championship to Atlanta,” said Fontenot. “We have conducted one of the most thorough and comprehensive searches and saw many incredible candidates through this process. Raheem is the right fit for our team, culture, and shared vision for success in Atlanta, and I cannot wait to start working with him and have his energy in our building.”
In 2022, Morris led a Rams defense that led the NFL in red zone efficiency (44.4 percent), ranked second in goal-to-go efficiency (53.3 percent), seventh in interceptions (16) and ninth in defensive total rush EPA (42.97). During the 2021 season that culminated in a Super Bowl title, Los Angeles’ defense averaged 1.5 takeaways per game and featured three players – Donald, Leonard Floyd and Von Miller – ranked in the top 20 in sacks. Additionally, Morris’ unit ranked third in sacks (50) and fifth in tackles for loss (85) during the regular season.
“I am overjoyed for the opportunity for my family and I to return to Atlanta as the Falcons head coach,” said Morris. “We know from firsthand experience what a first-class organization Atlanta is and what this team means to its city and its fans. I am incredibly appreciative of Arthur Blank for his leadership and for this entire organization for putting its trust in me to help lead this team. I can’t thank the Rams organization enough for the experience and opportunity with the team. From the Kroenke family, Kevin Demoff, Les Snead, Sean McVay and the entire staff, the Rams are a first-class organization all around. We loved our time in LA, loved the fans and know the Rams continue to have a very bright future.”
Additionally in 2021, the Rams defense ranked sixth in the NFL in opponents rushing yards per game (103.2) and fifth in yards per rush (3.96). Morris’ unit held opponents to a 51.8 percent red zone efficiency rate, which ranked eighth. Morris also led a secondary that ranked fifth in opponent passer rating (83.8) and third in interceptions (19). The secondary finished second in the NFL with 17 opponent passing touchdowns allowed and a 0.89 opponent touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Morris played safety at Hofstra from 1994-97 and received his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education. The Irvington, N.J., native will be joined in Atlanta by his wife, Nicole, his daughter, Amaya, and their two children, Maliya and Jalen.
As CEO of AMBSE, McKay oversees the business operations of the Atlanta Falcons, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the shared services functions that support the entire AMBSE portfolio. In the coming weeks he will add direct oversight of Atlanta United, with its CEO, Garth Lagerwey, reporting directly to him. He’ll also join the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation board as an associate director. AMBSE President Tim Zulawski and Falcons President Greg Beadles, as well as senior leaders of AMBSE’s shared services, will continue to report to him.
“It is hard to quantify the positive things Rich has done to impact our organization over the last 21 years, laying a strong foundation for our football team and getting Mercedes-Benz Stadium built and functioning as one of the best in the world, chief among them,” said Blank. “While he’ll no longer be involved in day-to-day football operations, Rich’s role will broaden in our organization, and I’ll continue to trust him with some of the most important work we’re engaged in across the Blank Family of Businesses.”
MORE ABOUT RAHEEM MORRIS’ CAREER
Prior to Los Angeles, Morris spent six seasons (2015-20) with the Falcons in a variety of roles including assistant head coach/passing game coordinator (2015, 2017-18), assistant head coach/wide receivers (2016), assistant head coach/wide receivers/secondary (2019) and defensive coordinator (2020) before serving as Atlanta’s interim head coach for the final 12 weeks of the 2020 season. Under the guidance of Morris, the Falcons finished the 2020 season tied for sixth in the league in red zone defense (82.1 percent) and sixth in rush defense (104.8 yards per game).
Morris began the 2019 season focused on the receiving corps but turned his attention to the secondary after the week nine bye week. Over the final eight games, the team went 6-2 and the defense improved from the lowest number of takeaways in the first half of the season (4) to finishing with the second most in the NFL (16) over the second half of the season. The defense also vaulted from the bottom of the league rankings to the top 10 in sacks (32nd to 10th), scoring efficiency (32nd to 9th) and red zone efficiency (31st to 6th) over the final eight weeks of the season.
In 2018, Morris’ coaching played a part in helping the offensive average 290.8 passing yards per game, the fourth-best average in the league. The passing attack continued to improve from 2017 to 2018, with the offense averaging 50 more passing yards per game and totaling 15 more passing touchdowns than in the previous year. Under Morris’ guidance, first-round draft pick Calvin Ridley led all rookies in receiving yards (821) and touchdowns (10). He also oversaw another great year from seven-time Pro Bowler, Julio Jones. Jones recorded 1,677 receiving yards, the second-highest total in his career, and hauled in 113 passes, the third time in his career with 100+ receptions in a season.
During Morris’ second year as the wide receivers coach in 2017, his receivers pulled in 214 receptions for 2,848 yards and 13 touchdowns. Morris’ coaching played a hand in Mohamed Sanu topping his then career-high for receptions, a mark he set the previous year under Morris’ teaching. Sanu finished the year with 67 receptions for 703 yards and tied a career-high with five touchdown receptions. Morris also oversaw another impressive year from Jones, who was selected to go to his fourth straight Pro Bowl after hauling in 88 receptions for 1,444 yards and three touchdowns.
After spending his first season with the team as assistant head coach/defensive passing game coordinator, Morris transitioned to the offensive side of the ball in 2016 and was named the assistant head coach/wide receivers coach. In his first season coaching the wide receivers, Morris worked with one of the best receivers in the game in Jones. Jones recorded 1,409 receiving yards, which was second in the NFL that season while his entire receiving group teamed up for 223 catches for 3,226 yards and 22 touchdowns. The unit included Taylor Gabriel, who recorded a career-high six receiving touchdowns and Sanu who tallied a then career-high 59 receptions.
During Morris’ first year in Atlanta, he was named the assistant head coach/defensive passing game coordinator. The defense only allowed 19 passing touchdowns, which was tied for the third-lowest total in the NFL while recording 15 interceptions, which ranked within the top 10 in the league. The numbers gave the defense a 1.27 touchdown-to-interception ratio, the seventh-best TD/Int ratio in 2015.
Morris joined the Falcons after spending three seasons as defensive backs coach for the Washington Commanders. In 2012, he helped Washington’s defense finish tied for fifth in the NFL with 31 takeaways and tie a league high with 94 passes defensed. Washington scored four defensive touchdowns in 2012, including two from the secondary.
Prior to arriving in Washington, Morris spent three seasons as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2011. He was the league’s youngest head coach in 2009 and in 2010, as his team finished with a 10-6 record. The Buccaneers made their best turnaround in franchise history in 2010 after going 3-13 in 2009.
Morris served in multiple capacities with the Buccaneers during two different stints with the team before he was promoted to head coach. He spent two seasons as the team’s defensive backs coach from 2007-08, during which time the Buccaneers ranked second in the NFL allowing 170.5 passing yards per game. During that span, the Buccaneers ranked among the league leaders with 22 interceptions.
He spent one year as the defensive coordinator at Kansas State in 2006, where he helped seven Wildcats earn All-Big 12 honors. Morris’ unit featured two first-team All-Big 12 selections and one second-team honoree.
Morris made his NFL coaching debut with Tampa Bay as a defensive quality control coach in 2002, when the club won Super Bowl XXXVII. The Buccaneers defense allowed an NFL-low 12.3 points per game, the third-best scoring defense since 2000. He served as a defensive assistant with the Bucs in 2003 and as assistant defensive backs coach from 2004-05.
In 10 seasons in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers finished fifth in total defense five times, while leading the League in 2002 and 2005. He also helped the team finish as the top-rated pass defense three times (2002, 2004 & 2007).
Morris began his collegiate coaching career an assistant coach at Hofstra in 1998. He moved on to Cornell University as defensive backs coach and special teams assistant for the 1999 season. Morris served as defensive backs coach at Hofstra from 2000 to 2001 before joining the Buccaneers. He also held a defensive minority internship position with the New York Jets in the fall of 2001.
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