“He’s a good dude,” Morris said of Goff, who was the quarterback for Morris’ first NFL head coaching gig with the Rams in 2009. “He’s got some swag.”
The rams defensive coordinator is a blog that covers the Los Angeles Rams. It features news, analysis, and opinion from around the NFL.
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ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry
- For the Los Angeles Times, I covered the Rams for two years.
- Previously, I wrote about the Falcons.
- Has written about the NBA, as well as college football and basketball.
THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA – Even after the bell marking the conclusion of a Los Angeles Rams training camp session had faded into the warm Southern California evening, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris stayed on the 40-yard line.
Morris stood 10 yards away from a line of defensive backs cutting across the field, grinning from ear to ear, while their coordinator acted as a human pitching machine, throwing strikes in their direction so they could work on their hands.
Darious Williams, a cornerback, remarked of Morris, “That guy — he’s entertaining.” “He’s a lot of fun. The vibe is wild and chaotic.”
When previous coordinator Brandon Staley left after one season to become the Los Angeles Chargers head coach, Rams coach Sean McVay wanted Morris to take over the Rams’ top-ranked defense.
Morris, a 19-year NFL coaching veteran who will be 45 next month, has coached on both sides of the ball and most recently served as the Atlanta Falcons interim head coach for 11 games last season (Falcons went 4-7 under Morris after an 0-5 start).
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Morris, with whom McVay previously worked in Tampa Bay and Washington, “never has a bad day,” according to McVay. “He’s always pouring into these people,” says the narrator.
Morris stated that his disposition is generally upbeat. “It’ll be difficult to locate me on a bad day,” he added.
Morris has immediately ingratiated himself with the Rams’ defensive players as a result of his attitude. Aaron Donald, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, stated, “He inspires.” “But make you laugh at the same time.”
Morris has proven himself to be a hands-on coordinator who will take on any task, including working as an assistant to position coaches during individual drills, and he can also turn a potentially mundane defensive meeting into something a little more memorable over the course of more than three weeks of training camp.
“He’s a fantastic coach,” defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day said. “He really understands how to connect with the guys and he knows how to create comedy out of situations when you screw up or anything like that or when you’re angry at yourself.” “He finds a way to inform you that you made a mistake while also making you laugh about it so you don’t feel bad about it.”
“His quips are very hilarious,” said second-year pro safety Jordan Fuller, who will take over as the defensive signal caller. “Usually it’s him picking on someone, but it’s great, because that’s what we do around the men and everything, so he’s entertaining.”
Morris’ teammates aren’t willing to provide any specific instances of his wit.
When asked for an example of Morris’ quips, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, who had 10.5 sacks last season, quipped, “It may be edited.” “Do you understand what I’m saying? I’m not sure how to put it.”
All joking aside, Morris inherits a defense that features Donald and All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, as well as Floyd and Williams, who are coming off breakthrough seasons.
It’s also a team that put up Super Bowl-caliber statistics despite a 10-6 record and a divisional playoff defeat to the Green Bay Packers. In terms of effectiveness, yards allowed per game (281.9), and points allowed per game, the Rams defense was the best in the league (18.5).
Morris will stick with Staley’s 3-4 system, but he’ll add his own wrinkles.
“He’s got his own personality,” Ramsey said. “He may call plays a little differently this year than last year, but for the most part, we’ll keep doing things that I’m sure he thought we did well and alter some of the things that we didn’t do well.”
Morris may have difficulties in maintaining the unit’s status as one of the finest in the league. Defensive lineman Michael Brockers, safety John Johnson III, cornerback Troy Hill, and outside linebacker Samson Ebukam, as well as important reserve rusher Morgan Fox, are all gone from last season’s team.
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The Rams will rely on sixth-year defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson to replace Brockers, third-year pro Taylor Rapp to replace Johnson, and third-year cornerback David Long to show his progress in the secondary. Justin Hollins and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, both outside linebackers, are working in on the edge.
Until the season opener against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 12 on Sunday Night Football, how the Rams’ 2023 defense is developing under Morris will be largely a mystery. For the fourth year in a row, McVay will not play starters in preseason games, relying instead on competition from three joint practices, one against the Dallas Cowboys and two against the Las Vegas Raiders, to gauge progress versus opponents.
Morris said he was pleased with what he saw against the Cowboys, but he acknowledged that there are still some areas that need to be addressed.
“I felt very comfortable about us going after the ball, about our aggressiveness, mentality, preparedness, and all those kinds of things,” Morris said. “What they revealed is that he was working on our high red zone periphery.”
The unit’s attitude is something Morris has always admired.
He believes that “metrics are for losers” and that the emphasis should instead be on creating memorable plays.
Morris said, “We have to go out there and make those splash plays and those plays that make a difference in the game.” “Aren’t they called MAD plays, or “Make A Difference” plays? So, if you go out and create that culture and those things, you’ll have the most effective defense.”
That isn’t a joke.