Let Raheem Morris cook: Falcons' new head coach blasts team's poor QB play

Raheem Morris called out the elephant in the room as the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Raheem Morris, Atlanta Falcons
Raheem Morris, Atlanta Falcons / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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With the NFL Combine underway in Indianapolis, new Atlanta Falcons head coach Raheem Morris certainly made his presence felt at the podium. The former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator is back in Atlanta after having been on Dan Quinn's staff from 2015 to 2020. Morris went 4-7 as the interim head coach in Atlanta after replacing Quinn, who went 0-5 to start the 2020 NFL season.

Although he had been a head coach the decade prior in Tampa Bay, Morris is not going to let his second chance slip away from him. He was honest and direct about identifying exactly why the Falcons have underperformed the last few years. It is no surprise that the team got worse once Matt Ryan declined and the quarterback play suffered. If not for bad quarterback play, Morris is not here.

"If we had better quarterback play, I may not be standing here at the podium."

While Atlanta has plenty of cap space to sign a veteran free agent like Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield or Jameis Winston, the more popular options to get better under center would be to either trade for hometown hero Justin Fields in a deal with the Chicago Bears, or take some inside the top 10 of the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft. Other quarterbacks to monitor are Jayden Daniels and J.J. McCarthy.

If Morris is a better head coach this time around and the Falcons get better quarterback play, they might be closer to contending in the weak NFC than most casual NFL fans would even realize.

Any of those quarterbacks would be an improvement over Desmond Ridder or even Taylor Heinicke.

Raheem Morris explains why Atlanta Falcons have been mediocre of late

What hurt the Arthur Smith tenure of Falcons football more than anything was not prioritizing quarterback play. Letting Ryan go after the 2021 sort of made sense, as he was a shell of himself in 2022 with the Indianapolis Colts. The future Pro Football Hall of Famer retired ahead of last season to embark on what could be a very lucrative career for him as a broadcaster and analyst for CBS Sports.

Smith opted to draft Ridder out of Cincinnati, which is fine because he was a great college player for the Bearcats, and was only a third-round pick. However, bringing in Marcus Mariota delayed his development considerably. Once Mariota was benched, he quit on the team mid-season. Although Heinicke is a homegrown player, his ceiling as a stop-gap starter is fairly limited. Smith blew it badly.

So instead of addressing the quarterback position wisely, Smith dug his own ditch and had to lie in it after a third straight 7-10 season. Morris may have grown as a coach during his three-year run on Sean McVay's staff, but until the Falcons address the quarterback position appropriately, he too could suffer from a similar fate as did his Flowery Branch predecessor. At least he knows the problem.

Look for Morris and general manager Terry Fontenot to obtain the next face of the Falcons franchise.

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