Falcons ready to win with right QB, says coach Raheem Morris

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Atlanta Falcons are ready to win in 2024, according to new coach Raheem Morris -- provided the team makes the correct moves in the next few weeks, specifically at quarterback.

"Go out there and find out who's going to be the trigger man for us and put ourselves in a position to win," Morris said Tuesday at the NFL combine. "And I'm not afraid to say that we have the ability, and we are capable to go out there and win next year if we do some of the right things, some of the right moves, we can do that.

"And that's not an arrogance, that's not a cockiness."

Both of the quarterbacks who started last year for the Falcons, Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke, remain under contract in 2024. But team owner Arthur Blank has described their 2023 play as "deficient."

The Falcons fired coach Arthur Smith after the season and hired Morris last month.

"If we had better quarterback play last year in Atlanta, I might not be standing here, and they would have the ability to be talking about those things," Morris said. "But right now, if we can focus on some of those things and do some of that, I think that'll give us the best chance to go out there and win."

Quarterback is clearly the biggest need for the Falcons, a team that has promising talent at the skill positions, such running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, wide receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts. The team has vowed to leave no stone unturned to get that group a capable passer, whether through free agency, the draft or a trade.

Morris joked that his staff now has "19 quarterback coaches" with an eye toward finding the right man for the job and developing him. That number was a bit of an exaggeration, but he was referring to the fact that offensive coordinator Zac Robinson played quarterback and many assistants, including quarterbacks coach T.J. Yates and senior offensive assistant Ken Zampese, have that position as a specialty.

"You want to have different opinions [from] a lot of decision-makers to make the final decision at the time when that comes up," Morris said. "And that's been a doozy for us. It's been fun for us to go through."

The Falcons have the No. 8 pick in April. Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said Tuesday that the Falcons could do everything from trading up to trading back to staying put. But he noted the quality of the options Atlanta could have at quarterback, including acquiring Justin Fields from the Bears, signing a veteran such as Kirk Cousins or Russell Wilson, or aggressively trading up in the draft.

"People know that that quarterback is a priority for us, but there's so many options," Fontenot said. "It'd be a little tougher if there weren't a lot of really good options. Again, whether you're talking about veterans, whether you're talking about the players in this college draft, there's a lot of really good options. So, that's why I wouldn't say that I feel like we're in a bad leverage spot. If there weren't a lot of options, maybe we would be so, but no. Very excited."