The Los Angeles Rams on Thursday announced they had agreed to terms with Raheem Morris to become their new defensive coordinator.
Here are five things to know about him:
1) Ties with Rams staff go beyond Sean McVay
Morris worked with McVay in Tampa Bay (2008) and Washington (2012-14), but there are also a few other familiar faces on Los Angeles' coaching staff:
- Rams offensive line coach/run game coordinator Aaron Kromer was a senior assistant for the Buccaneers during Morris' final season as assistant defensive backs coach (2005). Kromer was also senior assistant/offensive line coach for Tampa Bay in 2007, which overlapped with Morris' first season back with Tampa Bay as its defensive backs coach.
- Rams wide receivers coach Eric Yarber spent two seasons coaching the Buccaneers wide receivers (2010-11); those two years overlapped with Morris' final two as head coach of the Buccaneers.
- During Morris' final two seasons as defensive backs coach for Washington (2013-14), current Rams cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant was an offensive assistant (2013) and defensive quality control coach (2014) for Washington.
2) Has worked with talented defensive backs before
In Los Angeles, Morris will be inheriting a defense with two-time First Team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, but it's not the first time he's worked with one of the NFL's top defensive backs.
As noted in his introductory article, he has extensive experience coaching defensive backs. During the final two seasons of his first stint in Tampa Bay (2004 and 2005), he was an assistant defensive backs coach under defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin and helped cornerback Ronde Barber earn First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors each of those two seasons.
When Morris returned for his second stint with the Bucs (2007-11) – starting out as defensive backs coach the first two seasons after Mike Tomlin had departed for the Vikings and later the Steelers – he helped Barber earn his fifth Pro Bowl nod in 2008.
Barber is among the 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2021.
3) Success working with younger players
In 2010 – his second season as head coach of the Buccaneers – Tampa Bay became the first team since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger to start at least 10 rookies and finish with a winning record. Tampa Bay went 10-6.
4) Got his start in the NFL under Jon Gruden
Like McVay, Morris broke into the NFL working under Jon Gruden. Morris indicated in a Nov. 24 AtlantaFalcons.com article that Gruden has had a big influence on his coaching career.
"He was one of the first people that taught me how to work, how to put time into it, how to come into work and absolutely beat people to work and thrive in that environment," Morris said. "The work ethic he brought to the game, how much he loved football, his care for his coaching staff and everyone around him."
5) Strong communicator
Morris' switch over to offense and coaching the Falcons wide receivers for three and a half seasons was by no means a demotion. Rather, it reflected one of his best qualities.
According to an Oct. 13 story by The Athletic's Dan Pompei, when then-Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had to hire a wide receivers coach in 2016, they asked for Morris' assistance evaluating candidates. Morris pitched to Quinn the idea of hiring a "great communicator who Kyle Shanahan respects" and "the best coach, regardless of position" without explicitly volunteering himself for the job; Quinn and Shanahan later chose him.
In a February 2017 story by The Undefeated's Jason Reid detailing the transition and how Morris' first season as wide receivers coach was going, Reid wrote: "Morris also effectively articulated Shanahan's vision of the offense. He's largely responsible for improving communication issues that plagued the offense throughout last season's collapse."
Morris has also been widely praised by former players he coached for his ability to connect with them.