Ian Rapoport of NFL.com cites a source that indicates that the Atlanta Falcons are set to hire former Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson as their new defensive passing-game coordinator. That was a role formerly held by Raheem Morris, who is now expected to move to wide receivers coach according to NFL.com’s Albert Breer. Morris will presumably replace Terry Robiskie, who joined the Tennessee Titans as their new offensive coordinator on Monday.
Henderson interviewed for an unspecified position with the Falcons on Friday according to ESPN. Hen is familiar with Falcons head coach Dan Quinn having worked with him when both were assistants with the New York Jets in 2007 and 2008. He also worked with current Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox while in New York.
Henderson was interviewed by the Jacksonville Jaguars for their vacant defensive coordinator spot this past month, as well as for the head job with the Cleveland Browns. Ultimately the Jaguars and Browns both chose to go in different directions for those jobs, prompting most to conclude that Henderson was set to return to Dallas after his contract expired at the end of the 2015 season. Reports indicated that Henderson had little interest in making a lateral move to any new team, only seeking a defensive coordinator job or better if he left Dallas. Henderson will work alongside defensive coordinator Richard Smith to help Quinn call the defense, gearing his work towards the secondary and pass defense.
Henderson joins Cox, linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich and defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel as former NFL players now turned Falcons defensive coaches. Henderson played eight seasons in the NFL at free safety from 1991 to 1998, entering the league as a second-round pick of the New England Patriots in 1991. He appeared in 98 games over the course of his career, logging 32 starts and playing on two Super Bowl teams with the Buffalo Bills and Patriots. Henderson proved to be a journeyman, playing three-and-a-half season with the Patriots, one-and-a-half with the Bills, one with the Philadelphia Eagles and two with the Jets before hanging up his cleats for good.
He got into coaching with the Jets in 2006, joining the team as their director of player development. He added duties as assistant defensive backs coach the following year before fully realizing the defensive backs coach position in 2008. The next year he joined the Browns as a defensive backs coach, spending three years there before joining the Cowboys staff in 2012.
Morris joined the Falcons last year as an assistant head coach in addition to his role as defensive passing-game coordinator. Morris has spent the entirety of his coaching career on the defensive side of the ball, having played in the secondary during his playing career at Hofstra University while Quinn was an assistant coach there in the late 1990s. Morris entered the NFL ranks in 2002 as a defensive quality control coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He work his way up to defensive backs coach in 2007 after a year coordinating the defense at Kansas State. He was named Bucs head coach in 2009, posting a 17-31 record in three seasons. After his dismissal in 2011, he caught on with the Washington Redskins as a defensive backs coach.
Expectations after Robiskie’s departure was that the Falcons would promote offensive assistant Mike McDaniels to the vacant wide receivers coach position, given his experience coaching that unit with the Redskins and Browns in 2013 and 2014, respectively.