Bill Belichick has more competition for the Falcons’ head coaching job

The Falcons plan to have a second interview with a head coaching candidate other than Bill Belichick: Jim Harbaugh. ESPN confirmed an initial report from the NFL Network that the University of Michigan coach will meet again with Atlanta officials. The Falcons interviewed Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and Bills quarterbacks coach and interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady on Saturday for their head coaching vacancy.

The virtual interviews with Morris and Brady came one day after Belichick completed his second interview with the Falcons. The team also met virtually with Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn on Friday and are expected to meet with Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson this weekend. Morris, a former Atlanta assistant, is a familiar addition to the team’s list of candidates.

Before his three seasons with the Rams, Morris served in a variety of roles with Atlanta from 2015-2020, including the final 11 games of the 2020 season as interim head coach. He posted a 4-7 record. Morris was 17-31 as Tampa Bay’s coach from 2009-11.

During his time in Atlanta, Morris held assistant positions on offense and defense. He served as assistant head coach while coaching wide receivers and the secondary. He was the defensive coordinator in 2020.

The long history with Atlanta made Morris an obvious candidate after Arthur Smith was fired following his third consecutive 7-10 season. Brady, the Bills’ quarterbacks coach since 2022, was promoted to interim offensive coordinator during the 2023 season. He was Carolina’s offensive coordinator from 2020-21 following stints as an offensive assistant at Louisiana State in 2019 and with the New Orleans Saints in 2017-18.

Atlanta has interviewed 11 candidates. Belichick’s second interview supported reports that he was Atlanta’s top choice. His six Super Bowl titles are more than any other coach, but he is coming off a 4-13 season — the worst of his career.

That poor season that led to Belichick leaving the Patriots less than two weeks ago. Belichick’s conversations with Falcons owner Arthur Blank likely included New England’s quarterback woes as the coach struggled to replace Tom Brady. Mac Jones, a 2021 first-round draft pick, was benched this season and Bailey Zappe struggled as well.

The Falcons have endured similar struggles after Matt Ryan’s long run at quarterback. This season, Smith switched between Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke, but neither made a case to be the long-term answer. After Brady’s departure following the 2019 season, the Patriots had only one winning record in four seasons — a one-and-done playoff appearance in 2021 — while posting a record of 29-38.

In that same span, the Falcons’ record was 25-42 in the final four years of six consecutive losing seasons. The Falcons also have interviewed Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Panthers defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Ravens assistant head coach and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, and Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. .

By Staff and wire reportsUpdated January 20, 2024, 8:04 p.m.
Filed 01.21.2024

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