Blank: Raheem Morris Will 'Certainly' Be Falcons HC Candidate If He Goes 11-0

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2020

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2019, file photo, Atlanta Falcons' Raheem Morris watches from the sideline during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in Jacksonville, Fla. Morris is returning to his roots as a defensive coach. The Falcons hope the move will help save their season. After 3½ seasons working with the receivers on the offensive side, Morris is now in charge of the struggling secondary.  “You do whatever is required for the team,’” Morris said. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Raheem Morris might be fighting a losing battle to get the interim tag removed after he replaced Dan Quinn as the Atlanta Falcons' head coach.

"If Raheem ends up 11-0, then he'll certainly be a candidate," Falcons owner Arthur Blank told reporters when asked about whether Morris will be a candidate when the team starts a full coaching search.

Promoting an interim coach based on how a team finishes the season can be somewhat risky.

The phrase "new manager bump" is a common cliche in soccer and refers to how a team can occasionally perform better shortly after a managerial change. More often than not, the team is regressing to the mean rather than showing meaningful improvement.

The Falcons will probably look better under Morris because they can't get much worse than they are now amid an 0-5 start. The offense in particular will start trending upward in the event Julio Jones can shake his nagging hamstring injury.

Having said all of that, the optics of what Blank said aren't very good when the number of minority head coaches has been a persistent issue in the NFL. In May, the league approved of measures to strengthen the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates.

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Morris is the sixth minority head coach in the NFL right now. Romeo Crennel was the fifth when the Houston Texans made him Bill O'Brien's interim replacement.

Blank probably didn't intend any level of malice with his comment, and he might have been implying that a complete teardown of the front office and coaching staff is imminent.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff was fired along with Quinn, and Blank was surprisingly noncommittal about franchise quarterback Matt Ryan, who's due to count for almost $41 million against the salary cap in 2021.

Still, Blank's dismissive attitude toward Morris sends a bad message all around. It makes it feel as though whatever Morris does is totally futile in the event he has aspirations of being Quinn's permanent replacement, and it doesn't speak positively to Morris should he be on the radar of other teams looking for a new head coach.