Falcons Add Morris, Smith to Defensive Staff

irby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Smith

The Atlanta Falcons are expected to add defensive coaches Raheem Morris and Richard Smith to their defensive coaching staff, as both as expected to work in concert with impending head coach Dan Quinn to run the defense. According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, Morris will be serve as assistant head coach and be in charge of the pass defense and defensive backs, while Smith will be named defensive coordinator. Morris’ arrival confirms a previous report that he would serve in some high-ranking capacity, but not as a true defensive coordinator. Both coaches have worked with Quinn in previous stops.

Morris, 38, played under Quinn, when the latter was a defensive line coach at Hofstra University in the late 1990s. Morris then served alongside Quinn on Hofstra’s defensive staff in 2000. Morris then moved onto the NFL in 2002 as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His first stint as a defensive coordinator came in 2006 with Kansas State University before returning to the pros with the Bucs in 2007. Morris served as the head coach of the Buccaneers from 2009 to 2011, compiling a 17-31 record. After his dismissal from the Bucs, Morris has spent the past three seasons as the defensive backs coach with the Washington Redskins.

Smith, 59, spent the past four seasons coaching the linebackers of the Denver Broncos. He first came into contact with Quinn in 2001 when both were with the San Francisco 49ers. Quinn served as a defensive quality control coach while Smith coached the team’s linebackers. Smith had been with the 49ers since 1997, but eventually moved on to coach the Detroit Lions’ linebackers in 2003. He would reunite with Quinn in 2005 as the defensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins, while Quinn coached the team’s defensive line. That year, the Dolphins defense finished 18th in total defense and 15th in scoring defense. Smith moved on to coordinate the Houston Texans defense in 2006. The Texans routinely sported below average defenses under Smith, never finishing ranked above 22nd in either scoring or total defense during the three seasons he served as defensive coordinator. Smith moved on to coach the linebackers of the Carolina Panthers in 2009, and spent two years there under head coach John Fox before following the latter to Denver in 2011. Smith had previously served as an assistant with the Broncos from 1993 to 1996, coaching mainly special teams. Smith first broke into the pros as an assistant coach with the Houston Oilers, working with tight ends, linebackers, offensive line and special teams. Prior to that Smith worked as an assistant coach on the college ranks, serving with Rio Hondo (CA) Junior College (1979-80), Cal State-Fullerton (1981-83), California (1984-86) and Arizona (1987). Smith played offensive line for Rio Hondo and Fresno State before going into coaching.

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1 Comment on "Falcons Add Morris, Smith to Defensive Staff"

  1. My understanding was Smith would be the run defensive coordinator and Morris as pass.defense coordinator/assistant head coach. My guess is they’re just glorified titles and don’t mean anything, I think Quinn realizes his strength is in coaching defensive linemen and his weakness is in defensive secondary. I think he wanted Kris Richard but couldn’t convince him to come, so he offered Morris a “promotion” so it wouldn’t be a lateral move.

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