After a long-awaiting press conference, the Atlanta Falcons officially introduced Raheem Morris as the next head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Falcons owner Arthur Blank was not present at the press conference for a medical reason, he is healthy and in good spirits, reported by different members of Falcons media. Greg Beadles (the Atlanta Falcons President), Raheem Morris, and Terry Fontenot (Atlanta's general manager) sat at the table together for the introductory press conference. Falcons CEO Rich McKay was also not at the table but was in the crowd. Let's get into all the details of the press conference and discuss the coaching staff of the 2024 Atlanta Falcons!
The Raheem Regime
In wasting no time after Morris was hired, he, along with the Falcons front office, started filling out the main pillars of this new-look staff.
Zac Robinson- Offesnive Coordintor
Starting with the next Falcon's offensive coordinator, Zac Robinson, who was formerly the quarterback coach/passing game coordinator for the L.A. Rams. Robinson spent time in the NFL as a QB from 2010-2013 and then started coaching in the NFL with the Rams in 2019 as the assistant QB coach. Robinson would also spend time as an assistant wide receiver coach for the Rams as well. This a great hire by the Falcons, being a Sean McVay disciple, Robinson should be able to continue the success the Falcons have had in the run game but also establish dominance in the passing game using Drake London and Kyle Pitts. Morris also spoke highly of his new offensive coordinator, comparing him to a "..young Kyle Shanahan, and I saw him develop. I saw Sean McVay when he was young, and I saw him develop. Start naming names - Mike McDaniel, Steve Sarkisian ... I see Zac Robinson, and I see him in the same light."
Jimmy Lake- Defensive Coordinator
Robinson isn't the only coach from the Rams that Morris is bringing to Atlanta, as Jimmy Lake will be the new Falcons defensive coordinator. Lake has been involved in football for a very long time, dating back to 1999 as a graduate assistant at Eastern Washington. Lake's first stint in the NFL came in 2006 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers serving as the assistant defensive backs coach. Lake would then take his coaching abilities to Detroit, where he served as the defensive backs coach with the Lions. Lake then returned to Tampa Bay, serving as the Buccaneers DB coach from 2010-2011. Morris was the head coach for the Bucs in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, Lake went back to college football serving as the defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator for Bosie State.
Staying at the college level, Lake would go to the Washington Huskies, where he would stay on the defensive side of the ball from 2014-2019. Lake would then be promoted to head coach from 2020-2021. In 2023 Lake would find himself back in the NFL with the Rams as their assistant head coach. Love to see the experience that Lake has on the defensive side of the ball, the play-calling experience can be viewed as a bit of a concern as he has only called defensive plays at the college level, but does have a good amount of experience. Morris confirmed in his press conference that Lake will call the plays for the defense, so he can focus on head coaching duties.
Marquise Williams- Special Teams Coordinator
A name that may sound familiar, Williams has been the Falcon's special teams coordinator since the 2021 season. Williams was a hot target for multiple teams during the "coaching free agency" however Willaims decided to stay in Atlanta and coach under Morris. Williams has been the ST coordinator for Cordarrelle Patterson's kick return touchdown, which put Patterson at the top of the list for most kick return touchdowns in NFL history. Willaims has also been around for Younghoe Koo's successful run as Falcon's placekicker.
What Led The Falcons To Morris, and Why Did Morris Choose ATL?
It's important to go back to the fact that Atlanta had 14 candidates they interviewed for their head coaching position, but Morris stood out from the 13 others including, Bill Belichick, Jim Harbaugh, and Ben Johnson. "It was very clear there was one person who stood out, and that was Raheem Morris." Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said Morris' infectious energy was evident right off the bat, calling the first week and a half of the Morris era in ATL "a very fun 10 days." There is definitely a different style of energy coming from Morris during his press conference, something somewhat lacking with former head coach Arthur Smith during his tenure in Atlanta. There was also a familiar theme that Morris was implementing, and that had to do with collaboration. Morris brought up that he doesn't "need to be the smartest person in the building." Again, Morris reiterated that it'll be a collaborative effort to put the best team together to win the NFC South and get into the playoffs. Winning the South is Morris's goal in his first as the Falcons head coach.
For Morris "this is coming home." Adding that he'd been hired by Rich Mckay three times, dating back to his days in Tampa Bay. Morris also mentioned that he wanted to get back into head coaching as he said: "he was jealous of the relationship between Sean McVay and Les Snead and how they worked so well together, really showing what a healthy working relationship could look like." Morris added, "It's so nice to come back and see familiar faces." As a reminder, Morris was with the Falcons from 2015-2020.
One final point on leadership structure I want to point out. It was also confirmed that Blank made the final decision on hiring Morris. With that said, Fontenot led the interview process for all 14 candidates, including Morris. There was also input from many others in the Falcons' leadership including McKay, Beadles, and Ryan Pace. Fontenot also confirmed that in the last power structure, he and Arthur Smith reported to McKay, but now it will be Morris and Fontenot reporting to Blank instead. Both Morris and Fontenot will be in charge of the day-to-day operation of the football team (adding players, drafting rookies, etc.)
So, with all that said, the Falcons will enter a busy offseason after the Super Bowl concludes the 2023 season on Sunday. Atlanta will continue to scout college prospects for the draft that will take place in April but will look to sign a few free agents during the free agency period that comes before the draft. Morris provided a little insight on what the Falcons' future will look like in terms of players by only having "limited conversations about (the quarterback)" due to the responsibility of building a coaching staff first, but conversations have taken place on the QB1 of the future. The Morris-Fontenot has officially begun, just as Morris said in his press conference, "It's less about telling people it's going to be different and more about showing people what's going to be different."
(Drippiest Head Coach in the NFL)
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