His latest job now brings forth this daunting challenge: Taking over the league’s best defense from a season ago constructed by Brandon Staley.
Morris has never walked into this situation before. At his last coordinator stop with the Atlanta Falcons, he was shuffled from the offense (served as wide receiver coach and pass game coordinator) to the defensive side to take over a unit that ranked No. 22 overall in scoring defense in 2019. In 2006, he was tasked with improving a Kansas State University defense that surrendered 305 points in 11 games (average of 27.72 points allowed per game) the previous season.
However, two L.A. defensive linemen have told reporters during OTAs that they speak highly of Morris’ energy, intensity and approach to practices.
One of them is defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, who described this of Morris: “He has that fire and intensity.”
The New Jersey Connection With Ex-Rutgers Standout
Sebastian Joseph-Day witnessed his total tackles (52), solo stops (32) and passes defensed (three) all improve under Staley last season.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound nose tackle said of Morris on June 1 to reporters, “He’s got great energy. I love his energy.” And there’s one more aspect he loves about his newest coordinator: They share a New Jersey connection as Morris was born in Newark and attended Irvington High School.
“He’s from ‘The Dirty Jerz,’ I already know he’s coming,” Joseph-Day, who is from Matawan, N.J, said. “I went to Rutgers, I was born in Jersey, it’s like home. Him and I get along really well.”
The third-year defender, though, has seen Morris’ fiery side, yet has seen how he’s able to balance his emotions.
“He’s also very intense and very intentional with what he’s trying to do,” Joseph-Day explained. “He knows how to turn it on and off but he also knows how to have fun with it. I’m super excited man for the defense and I’m ready to get after it.”
‘He’s Like a Player’
Robinson is joining Joseph-Day along the line once again. The now 300-pound Robinson said on June 2 the way Morris approaches practices energizes the 26-year-old.
“Once you see him, you talk to him, and see the way he approaches the game and see his knowledge of the game, it’s exciting,” Robinson said.
Robinson views Morris as more like a player and not necessarily as someone just wearing the headset.
“He’s like us: He’s like one of the players,” Robinson said. “I see his energy, his feel, the way his approach is and the way he sees everything is like a player. So it’s good for us when we imply it to the field.”
While playing at 330-pounds, Robinson was limited to eight games after qualifying as a COVID-19 opt out. Robinson was limited to 10 total tackles and didn’t collect a sack. But now, he’s turned to a vegan diet while incorporating yoga and Pilates into his workout routine, leading to his weight loss.
Already, Morris has won over Joseph-Day with The Garden State bond and Robinson with his player-coach side. As the old rule in football states: It starts in the trenches. And Morris has won over two key trench defenders to start his Rams tenure.