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20 Feb 2022

The Job Application

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February 20, 2022 Category: Sports Posted by:

Now that Super Bowl LVI is over, Rams Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris should be getting some attention.

By Chris Murray

For the Philadelphia Sunday SUN

Above photo: Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris talks on the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif.

The Minnesota Vikings have added Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris to their candidate list for head coach. According to a person with knowledge of the process, speaking Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022 to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the organization is not announcing interviews before they’re completed, the Vikings have requested to meet with Morris about the vacancy created when Mike Zimmer was fired last week. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

No one would argue with you if you said that the Los Angeles Rams’ owed their Super Bowl LVI win to a final touchdown drive that culminated in a one-yard pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford to wide receiver (and Most Valuable Player) Cooper Kupp.

But you could also make the argument that the game was won when Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow found himself wearing Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald and watching as his desperation fourth down pass landed harmlessly on the ground, preserving the Rams 23-20 victory.

While the Rams offense got the most attention in the end of Super Bowl LVI, what I think that got lost in the hype was the coaching job of Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris. At a time when it looked like the Bengals offense was about to take total control of the game, Morris made the necessary adjustments needed to shut down one of the NFL’s most potent offenses.

Trailing 13-10 at halftime, the Bengals started the second half with a 76-yard touchdown pass from Joe Burrow to Tee Higgins on the first play from scrimmage. The Los Angeles Rams first possession of the half ended with a Stafford interception when the ball bounced off the arm of Ben Skowronek and into the hands of Bengals corner Chidobe Awuzie at the Rams 31.

The Bengals moved the ball to the Rams 11-yard line but on the third down, Burrow was sacked by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald for a loss of nine yards. The Bengals settled for a 38-yard field goal by Evan McPherson.

Not only was that the final score for the Bengals, but it would be the deepest penetration the Rams defense would allow into their territory for the rest of the game. For the next 25 minutes of the game, the Rams locked the Bengals down. The offense was held to 305 yards total and sacked Burrow seven times.

After putting the Rams defense in a position to shut down one of the NFL’s most potent offenses in the NFL on the game’s biggest stage, you would think that Morris is destined to be a hot coaching candidate for next season when vacancies come open again. Heck, he might even get an interview.

But in a league where there are only two Black head coaches, a white coordinator without half of Morris’ experience will get that job instead and we’ll be back having the “Why can’t good Black coordinators find head coaching jobs in the NFL?” discussion all over again.

When you look at what Morris did with the Rams this season, his defense helped the Rams become the second team in a row to win a Super Bowl on its home field. The Rams finished third in the NFL in sacks, fifth in rushing yards per carry on the ground, and ninth in yard per play. The Rams were also 11th in takeaways.

Were he white with that kind of resume, Morris would already be a head coach by now.

Of course, some owners will use Morris’ 17-31 record as a head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an excuse to not hire him. I find that ironic considering that the Houston Texans almost hired former Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Josh McCown, who has no NFL coaching experience outside coaching high school football.

So, I’ll end this with a message for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners that pay his salary.

Everyone sees through your performative gestures. If you think that anti-racism slogans written on football fields and helmets and Dr. Dre and company performing in a Super Bowl halftime show is going to make anyone stop looking at the abysmal hiring record that led former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores to sue the league, you’re sadly mistaken.

(And can we talk about how gospel icons Mary Mary singing the Black National Anthem in the parking lot before the game wasn’t a good look?)

The only thing that can do that is giving Morris and other coordinators like him the chance to shine. And it’s about time.

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