The Indianapolis Colts have already interviewed several head coaching candidates but Raheem Morris may be the most intriguing.
After years of constant turnover at the league’s most important position, Indianapolis Colts fans far and wide are clamoring for an offensive-minded coach to take the reins in Indy. However, there’s evidence as to why a defensive-oriented candidate whose currently in the coaches’ transfer portal may just be the best overall fit for what general manager Chris Ballard is looking for this time around.
That man would be none other than journeyman coach and current defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, Raheem Morris.
Journeyman in this context isn’t supposed to reflect what the term usually stands for, which is, an athlete who is technically competent but is often unable to excel. Rather, I use this as an homage to highlight Morris and all the people & places he’s coached, as well as at the various levels he’s done so at.
Raheem Morris’ background
Morris is relatively young (46) as far as NFL head coaches go, although generally speaking, the role in question is getting collectively younger (i.e., Sean McVay, Kliff Kingsbury, & Mike McDaniel) with many more seemingly set to become a head coach in this year’s coaching carousel such as DeMeco Ryans (38), Ben Johnson (36), and Shane Steichen (37) just to name a few.
Tom Pelissero does a spectacular job every year with his annual young NFL coaches to watch list(s), but his criteria, which is fair, is based on said potential candidates being 45 years or younger (as previously mentioned, Morris is 46) as well as having no prior NFL head coaching experience. Regardless of how young Morris was at the time of writing said article, he did have a three-year stint as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009 to 2011, and was the Interim head coach for the Atlanta Falcons in 2020, thus immediately making him ineligible to be considered.
To be fair, he was once a budding, young star as a coach when his head coaching gig came to fruition. Morris became a head coach at 32 years old, which was rather unprecedented and long before the youthful movement began in the modern-day NFL.
With what some call a failed head coaching tenure on his resume, it’s understandable why any fan would be worried about granting Morris his second shot. I, however, believe it’s overdue, especially after his Super Bowl win with the Rams in 2021, that Morris gets another shot at leading an NFL team.
My reasoning for wanting Morris at the helm in Indy for the foreseeable future is twofold:
- Experienced as it gets (especially for a younger candidate)
- Abundance of connections across the league
Colts should give Raheem Morris his second chance at being a head coach
Although Raheem Morris is certainly considered a defensive-minded talent, he has, however, made promising efforts on the offensive side of the ball. Most impressively in this regard, Morris was the passing game coordinator, as well as wide receivers coach and assistant HC, for the Atlanta Falcons from 2017 to 2019. Not to mention, he played a crucial part in Matt Ryan’s MVP campaign in 2016 where he was the assistant HC & WRs Coach.
Here’s a quick look at what he’s coached and where in his fruitful career:
- 2002: Defensive Quality Control (TB)
- 2003: Defensive Assistant Coach (TB)
- 2004-05: Assistant Defensive Backs Coach (TB)
- 2006: (quick hiatus to college) Defensive Coordinator (Kansas State)
- 2007-08: Assistant Defensive Backs Coach (TB)
- 2009-11: Head Coach (TB)
- 2012-14: Defensive Backs Coach (WSH)***
- 2015: Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/DBs Coach (ATL)
- 2016: Assistant HC/WRs Coach (ATL)
- 2017-2019: Assistant HC/Pass Game Coordinator/WRs Coach (ATL)
- 2020: Defensive Coordinator/Interim HC (ATL)
- 2021-22: Defensive Coordinator (LAR)
At each stop in his coaching career, Morris has partnered with numerous familiar faces throughout the league. With his career beginning in Tampa Bay in 2002, as a part of a team that would net Morris with his first (of two) Super Bowl Ring, he would go on to form relationships with the likes of Mike Tomlin, Gus Bradley, and Monte Kiffin.
More recently, Morris was a part of the star-studded coaching staff of the 2012 to 14 Washington team. That staff featured many prevalent and current head coaches of today such as Sean McVay, Mike Shanahan, Matt LaFleur, and Mike McDaniel.
Needless to say, Raheem Morris is highly regarded across the league and has connections that stretch back as far as 20 years ago.
The most important factor in this, in my opinion, is the ability to cultivate a viable coaching staff for years to come. I don’t doubt that other candidates such as Lions’ OC Ben Johnson or Eagles’ OC Shane Steichen are capable of building a competitive staff, but with a familiar face to Morris already on the staff in Gus Bradley, I grow additionally worrisome that anybody other than Morris would retain Bradley as DC.
As Zach Hicks of Horseshoe Huddle on Sports Illustrated so graciously laid out, here are some likely contenders for coordinators that Morris would like to have alongside him:
- Bobby Slowik: San Francisco 49ers Passing Game Coordinator; Defensive assistant with the Washington Commanders from 2011-2013.
- Zac Robinson: Los Angeles Rams Passing Game Coordinator; Currently working alongside Morris with the Rams.
- Gus Bradley: Indianapolis Colts Defensive Coordinator; LB Coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2006-2008.
- Ejiro Evero: Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator; Defensive quality control coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2007-2009.
- Eric Henderson: Los Angeles Rams Defensive Line Coach; Currently working alongside Morris with the Rams.
Morris not only has the experience, knowledge, and connections to become a head coach and further, build a sustainable staff alongside him, but he knows what it takes to win. As previously mentioned, Morris has been a part of teams that have won two Super Bowls (2002 & 2021). He possesses any and every trait that you would want in a head coach; delegation, communication, and philosophy to name a few. That’s why, if I had any say in the matter, I would be vouching for Raheem Morris to become the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.