The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have named Raheem Morris as the team’s new wide receivers coach and Jerome Henderson as the passing game coordinator. Morris will also keep his title as the assistant head coach.
“I am excited about these moves and what they will do for our coaching staff,” said Head Coach Dan Quinn. “I have known Raheem for over 19 years and I have no doubt his extensive background in the passing game will prove to be a tremendous asset to our offensive coaching staff. His experience, combined with his personality, makes him the perfect fit to take over this role. Coach Henderson brings an excellent understanding of the passing game in the NFL, and has proven his ability to develop players over his time in this league. He will be a great addition to our staff and I am looking forward to getting to work with both of these men in their new positions.”
Morris is entering his second year with the Falcons and his 14th year as a coach in the NFL. Last season he was named the assistant head coach/defensive passing game coordinator, where he oversaw a young secondary that held five of its opponents to under 200 passing yards. The secondary also only allowed 19 passing touchdowns, which was tied for the third-lowest total in the League last season. Along with forcing 15 interceptions in 2015, which ranked within the top 10 in the League, the secondary had a 1.27 touchdown-to-interception ratio, the seventh-best ratio in the NFL.
Before joining the Falcons, Morris spent three seasons as the defensive backs coach for the Washington Redskins. In 2012, he helped Washington’s defense finish tied for fifth in the NFL with 31 takeaways. The Redskins scored four defensive touchdowns in 2012, including two from the secondary. Morris oversaw a unit that tied a League high with 94 passes defensed and ranked fifth in the NFC with a 3.3 interception rate.
Prior to arriving in Washington, Morris spent three seasons as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2011. He was the League’s youngest head coach in 2009. In 2010, the Buccaneers recorded the best turnaround in franchise history, finishing with a 10-6 record after going 3-13 in 2009. He spent one year as the defensive coordinator at Kansas State in 2006 prior to joining the Buccaneers.
Morris made his NFL coaching debut with Tampa Bay as a defensive quality control coach in 2002, when the club won Super Bowl XXXVII. The Buccaneers defense allowed an NFL low 12.3 points per game, the third-best scoring defense since 2000. He served as a defensive assistant with the Bucs in 2003 and as assistant defensive backs coach from 2004-05.
Henderson spent the last four seasons as the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary coach and brings nine years of NFL coaching experience to Atlanta. In 2015, he oversaw a secondary that limited opponents to 227 passing yards per game, which ranked fifth in the NFL. Henderson’s unit surrendered 19 passing touchdowns last season, tied for the third-fewest in the NFL, and 29 passes of 25-plus yards, which ranked ninth. Under Henderson’s guidance, rookie safety Byron Jones was graded as the Cowboys top defensive back and one of the club’s top defensive players by Pro Football Focus.
In 2014, Henderson saw his unit improve in passing yards allowed, yards per attempt, interceptions, passing touchdowns, and passes of 25-plus yards. During the 2013 season, he led the defensive backfield as the entire unit made the switch from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme. In his first season in Dallas, Henderson was tasked with integrating two new starting corners in first round draft choice Morris Claiborne and veteran free agent Brandon Carr. Carr led the team in interceptions with three – returning one for a touchdown – while Claiborne picked off one pass and had a fumble returned for a touchdown.
Prior to arriving in Dallas, the former Clemson Tiger spent three seasons as a secondary coach in Cleveland where his defensive backs recorded seven of the club’s nine interceptions in 2011 and finished second in the NFL in passing defense. He was instrumental in the development of cornerback Joe Haden and safety T.J. Ward, both of whom were consensus All-Rookie selections in 2010. Before his stint in Cleveland, Henderson spent three seasons as a member of the New York Jets coaching staff. Leading the defensive backs in 2008, Henderson saw cornerback Darrelle Revis earn a Pro Bowl berth after leading the team with five interceptions. He split duties as an assistant defensive backs coach and director of player development in 2007 after originally joining the club as the director of player development in 2006.
Henderson was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft. He played eight seasons in the NFL as a defensive back with four different teams, including the Patriots (1991-93, 1996), Buffalo Bills (1993-94), Philadelphia Eagles (1995), and Jets (1997-98). He appeared in 98 games with 34 starts and recorded nine career interceptions. Henderson played in Super Bowl XXVIII with the Bills and Super Bowl XXXI as a member of the Patriots.