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Raheem Morris on returning to Falcons as head coach: 'Coming back home, this is certainly the best feeling in the world'

Raheem Morris is no stranger to Atlanta.

Morris spent four years building his resume with the Falcons, starting as an assistant head coach/defensive pass game coordinator in 2015 to eventually becoming the team's defensive coordinator and then later the interim head coach for 11 games in 2020 after Dan Quinn was dismissed from his duties. Now, Morris is back, and this time, he will be the one calling the shots.

During his introductory news conference on Monday, Morris explained how surreal it feels to get this opportunity in a place he is so familiar with.

"This is coming home," Morris said when asked if he ever imagined coming back to coach the Falcons. "When you get a chance to go back home in this profession, it is extremely important. It is extremely critical to everybody involved, and that is a special moment. Not just for me, but for my family, for everybody involved.

"But this has been a process for me that has been outstanding and so much fun. I can't express the joy that I have right now to be able to come back and work with the (Falcons owner Arthur Blank) Blanks. To be able to come back and work with all the people around me that I've been with for years, and I could talk about this for the rest of the press conference, and it probably may bore you, but if you've ever been in this spot, to coming back home, this is certainly the best feeling in the world."

After leaving Atlanta, Morris took a job as the Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator in 2021 and formed a top-10 defense in multiple categories. The Rams were seventh in both yards/carries (4.2) and in rushing yards per game allowed (108.4). The Rams were also fourth in red-zone touchdown percentage (50.0). Not only that, but this was the same year Morris helped guide the defense to a Super Bowl LVI victory.

Morris remembers what it was like to become world champions and aims to elevate the Falcons franchise to the same standard.

"The reason we're here," Morris said at the end of his opening remarks. "It's going to be a winning culture, and we're here to win football games. At the end of the year, there is only one team that that's happy. And (Falcons general manager)Terry (Fontenot) mentioned it, but I've only been in that position twice in my career, and I can't wait to go back there again."

This is not the first time Morris has taken up the duties of a head coach, but even though he's known for his defensive mind, he is not going to get in the way of new defensive coordinator, Jimmy Lake.

"Obviously, Jimmy's called it for a long time in the college game, and I don't see a lot of confidence and struggle issues that he'll have calling at this next level. … Myself personally, I want Jimmy Lake to get out there and be able to be in front, right? Calling the plays. And me, be able to be on both sides of the ball, so I can really be involved in how we handle situations. How we go about our game management and all those types of things just so you can get the entirety of the head coach, and you can control the football team how you want to control it."

Morris is taking up a roster that has slowly taken time to rebuild but still has plenty of potential, with some newer additions looking to shine next season.

When asked what he has seen so far that he likes, Morris was quick to highlight some players Fontenot has brought in that caught his eye.

"That's really easy. Drake London. Bijan Robinson," Morris said. "This man has acquired some really good pieces and tools. The things you've got to change are just the obvious holes that we'll talk about. Every team, every year, is going to have some differences. Every team, every year, is going to have some change. Every team is going to be different. We just got to keep building on those moments."

Last season, Atlanta almost made it to the playoffs, being one Week 18 win and a Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss away from winning the division. This year, Morris plans on taking the Falcons to new heights as they build a new foundation with a new set of coaches.

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