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Lindsay Therespan


    • He covered the Rams for the Los Angeles Times for two years.
    • Previously handled by Sokolov
    • Beats the NBA, college football and basketball.

SOAND OAKS, CA. — Raheem Morris was coached by Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, who would take over as defensive coordinator following the departure of Brandon Staley earlier this month.

McVeigh drops a Morris grip, now the count starts.

How long will Morris, who has interviewed two head coaches this cycle, stay in Los Angeles?

A likely answer for the 44-year-old with 19 seasons of coaching experience in the NFL: Not for long.

Since becoming coach of the Rams in 2017, McVay has lost three assistants who are now head coaches: Matt LaFleur, coach of the Green Bay Packers, Zach Taylor, coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and now Staley, who put together a first-rate NFL defense that led the Rams to a typical 10-6 offensive season and a wild-card playoff win.

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The Los Angeles Chargers appointed Staley as their head coach, paving the way for a meeting between McVay and Morris, who is considered one of the top candidates for the future head coaching position.

After Morris served 11 games as interim head coach of the Atlanta Falcons last season, he applied for the vacant position, but former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith chose him. Morris was also interviewed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who recruited Urban Meyer.

For now, Morris returns to McVay after the two men worked together as assistants with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington football team.

I have a lot of respect for Raheem and what he brings to the Rams organization, McVay said in a statement after hiring Morris. Rahim is not only a great communicator, but also a great teacher. Raheem’s training, both on offense and defense, gives him a unique perspective that allows him to see the field from the perspective of a 22-man team.

Before that, Morris was head coach of the NFL’s Buccaneers in 2009, when he was the league’s youngest head coach at 32 until 2011.

He recently played six seasons with the Falcons, where he coached the offensive and defensive wings. He was appointed defensive coordinator last season and then became interim head coach when Dan Quinn was fired after an 0-5 start.

Under Morris’ leadership, the Falcons were 4-7 and finished the season 4-12. The defense improved significantly from 30th in defensive effectiveness in the first five games to 17th, improving from 446 yards per game (31st) to 376.6 (23rd) and allowing 32.3 points per game (30th) to 23 (14th).

Raheem Morris is the Rams’ new defensive coordinator, but how long will he stay in Los Angeles? Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack.

Five of the seven Falcon losses under Morris were due to a single ball possession.

Whether it’s here or somewhere else, he’s going to be the head coach of this league, Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan told reporters toward the end of the season. There’s no doubt about it.

But now Morris begins his first full season as a defensive coordinator in the NFL.

LESGU!!! …Excited about the future, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey tweeted after the Rams announced the hiring of Morris.

In Los Angeles, Morris inherited a unit that ranked first in efficiency, yards allowed per game (281.9) and points allowed per game (18.5).

The challenge will be to make it work with a system Mr. Morris may not be familiar with.

The Rams bring back Aaron Donald, who had 13.5 sacks last season, and Ramsey, who averaged 23.9 yards per game as the tightest fullback allowed, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

However, questions remain about several free agents who played key roles around Donald and Ramsey.

Leonard Floyd produced 10.5 sacks and could use him in the best season of his career in free agency, although McVay has stated that re-hiring Floyd was a priority.

The market should also be strong for safety John Johnson III, who has eight interceptions in his career and was a defensive call last season. The Troy Hill corner proved to be a playmaker with three interceptions and three defensive touchdowns, while Darious Williams’ limited corner recorded four interceptions, a record for the team.

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Morris is best known for his work on the 4-3 scheme, a system the Rams have not used since former coach Jeff Fisher was fired in 2016.

Although Morris is at 4-3 in the backfield, the Rams must maintain a Staley pattern that retains the 3-4 base established by former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (McVay did not retain Phillips when his three-year contract expired after the 2019 season), but often uses defensive heavyweight packages.

Morris is becoming familiar with Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio’s system, which Staley, who worked under Fangio for three seasons before joining the Rams, has perfected to make his own.

Morris is also expected to graduate as a defensive lineman, which currently has at least two vacancies.

After McVay came from Washington and spent four seasons with the Rams, linebacker coach Joe Barry followed Staley to the Chargers to become linebacker coach and defensive passing coordinator. Cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant, who also came to Los Angeles with McVay, has taken over as Detroit Lions secondary coach and defensive passing coordinator.

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