ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons named defensive coordinator Raheem Morris interim head coach on Monday after firing Dan Quinn.
Morris is in his sixth season with the Falcons and his first season as defensive coordinator.
The Falcons fired Quinn on Sunday night, hours after the team fell to 0-5 for the first time since 1997 with a 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Falcons owner Arthur Blank also fired longtime general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
When firing Quinn and Dimitroff, the Falcons announced team president Rich McKay would take control of football operations on an interim basis and also assist Blank in the search for a full-time coach and general manager.
Morris could become a candidate for the full-time job if the Falcons, who play at Minnesota on Sunday, can revive their season.
Morris was coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2011. His team finished 10-6 in 2010, marking the best turnaround in franchise history following a 3-13 finish in 2009.
“Raheem is a strong leader and a talented coach that has adapted to a variety of roles since joining the Falcons in 2015,” McKay said in a statement Monday. “He has experience as a head coach and has worked on both sides of the ball. We felt that combined with his connection to the players and coaching staff, which will be an important factor as we move forward in 2020, he was the right person to give this responsibility to.”
Morris was the choice as interim coach despite being in charge of a defense which ranks near the bottom of the league in passing, total yards and points allowed.
The Falcons have tried to compensate for a secondary which has been depleted by injuries. The defense faces a big problem in correcting its tackling. Several players whiffed on initial contact in the loss to Carolina. Panthers running back Mike Davis often carried defenders along for the ride as he broke through to the second and third level.
The defense gave up too many big plays, nine of which covered at least 15 yards and included a 57-yard touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater to D.J. Moore.
Morris may lean on a running game which was a bright spot in Sunday’s loss. The Falcons ran for 166 yards, averaging 6.6 yards. Todd Gurley, who finished with 121 yards on just 14 carries, had success breaking tackles and running on the perimeter.
Morris has experience on offense and defense in his 18 years coaching in the NFL. He opened the 2019 season with Atlanta’s wide receivers before being switched to the secondary. The move was seen as a major reason Atlanta went 6-2 in its final eight games to finish 7-9 last season.
Morris spent three seasons as defensive backs coach for the Washington Football Team before joining the Falcons.
AP Sports Writer George Henry contributed to this report.