Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank recently spoke with Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated about why Blank hired former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as the club’s next head coach over living legend Bill Belichick.
“It wasn’t that he was the wrong fit,” Blank said about his January conversations with Belichick. “We always wanted him. All the issues and questions about Bill relative to power structure were completely unfounded and untrue and based on nothing. All of my discussions with him, he was nothing but collaborative, inclusive, anxious to work with personnel and scouting alongside him. He did his referencing on our organization and felt very comfortable working with them. It really had nothing to do with any of that.”
Multiple individuals suggested during Super Bowl week that it was Belichick who turned Blank down instead of the other way around, in part because the six-time Super Bowl champion head coach allegedly wanted more power within the Falcons than Blank was willing to relinquish. Blank rejected such claims before his chat with Breer.
It was reported over the weekend that “multiple owners reached out to Belichick about next year’s hiring cycle” after Blank hired Morris. While Belichick turns 72 years old in April, he is just 15 wins away from setting a new NFL record for career victories earned by a head coach (regular season and playoffs combined).
“I think Bill will coach again,” Blank told Breer. “I don’t know. But the energy’s there, the passion’s there. We just felt for a variety of reasons when we weighed Raheem versus everybody, that he was just the best choice for us.”
Specifically, Blank mentioned how Morris served as an assistant, defensive coordinator and interim head coach with the Falcons during a stint that ran from 2015 through the 2020 season.
“The experience we had with him in Atlanta was great,” Blank said of Morris. “It was six years, obviously a lot of success during that time, didn’t end that way, but a lot of success during that time. Spent a lot of time on offense, defense, great leader. Coaches loved him, players loved him.”
Blank added that Morris “learned skills” over the past three seasons with the Rams “that weren’t fully developed when he left us in Atlanta.” Everyone involved will now be hoping such skills prevent Blank from regretting the hire he made in January.