Raheem Morris made a good first impression in his first game as Atlanta Falcons interim head coach, earning the team's first win of the year. Stacking more Ws could keep Morris in Atlanta for the long haul.
Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay joined NFL Network's NFL NOW on Friday afternoon and noted Morris should be a candidate not only in Atlanta but for any openings around the league.
"The unique thing about Raheem is that he has 11 weeks," McKay said. "It's not something you want to do is to have an interim that has to have 11 weeks -- typically an interim is gonna have two to three weeks -- but in this case, it's a good thing for Raheem. It gives him a really good chance to put his stamp on the football team and on how we're going to play. So let's let that play out. We'll support him in every way we can. We want to win as many games as we can, and clearly he should be a candidate. He's earned that right. He was going to be on everybody's list this year anyhow, so should he be on our list? Yes. In this case, he's got 11 games to see what we can do."
Morris spent three years as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2011, compiling a 17-31 recorded. He earned a 10-win 2010 season after a three-win year in his first and a four-win campaign that lead to his dismissal.
Sometimes a second go-around allows a coach to adjust his approach to handle a job. Morris spending time on both sides of the ball in recent years, as well as being an assistant head coach, helps him in this regard. He gets to audition in Atlanta for 11 games. An interim could do worse than having Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley on his side.
The 44-year-old coach was in line to be a head coaching candidate after helping turn around the Falcons defense last year when he moved back to that side of the ball after spending time on offense. Unfortunately, to start the season, the Falcons were a disaster on defense, which ultimately led to Dan Quinn's firing. How that unit turns around could determine the level of interest in Atlanta retaining Morris or other teams being interested.
The history of interim coaches taking over full-time isn't exactly pretty. There are some success stories like Marty Schottenheimer in Cleveland in the mid-1980s, or Jeff Fisher taking over Houston in 1994 (Fisher takes a lot of heat now, but he went 142-120 and went to a Super Bowl with Houston/Tennessee). Jason Garrett had a long leash in Dallas but ultimately went nowhere. Leslie Frazier in Minnesota had one 10-win season sandwiched between two losing years. Then there are the likes of Tom Cable or Mike Singletary -- to name two -- who crashed and burned.
After playing a tough slate to open the year, the task eases up slightly before the team's Week 10 bye, starting with Sunday's game against the two-win Detroit Lions. The slate is much tougher to end the season, including two games against the Saints, two against the Bucs and one at Kansas City.
How Morris' Falcons finish this year will tell the tale of how serious a candidate he is come the offseason.