While Sean McVay is the main star of the “Flying Coach” podcast that he hosts alongside the NFL Network’s Peter Schrager, it was one of his newest assistants who stole the show on Wednesday morning.
Los Angeles Rams first-year defensive coordinator Raheem Morris joined Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin as the final guest of season two of the podcast. Morris, known for his high-energy during practices and humor among past players and coaches he worked with, finally revealed where he gets his coaching style from: The Steelers head coach.
Morris not only considers Tomlin one of his best mentors, but revealed himself as a strong impersonator of Tomlin and someone who got his NFL coaching baptism from the Steelers leader, which involved a power point document Morris recreated.
The relationship between Tomlin and Morris traces back to their Tampa Bay Buccaneer years. Both were assistants under Jon Gruden from 2002-2005 when Tomlin coached defensive backs and Morris held roles like defensive quality control, defensive assistant and assistant DB coach in his four seasons there.
Because Morris spent too much time rubbing shoulders with the then-DB coach of the Bucs, he developed his own inner-Tomlin.
“His impersonation of Mike is uncanny,” McVay jokingly remarked on the show.
To which Morris himself confirmed that he does imitate his former defensive mentor on the field, saying “He’s been one of the ultimate teachers to us. When you’re around that kind of greatness, you can do nothing but absorb it in so much. And I’ve had the ability to absorb it in so much, that it comes across like me imitating Mike. I can definitely imitate this guy really well. He’ll give you some classic lines, particularly in a positional meeting setting.”
But outside of sounding like Tomlin, Morris revealed his “Welcome to the NFL coaching world” moment came from him.
How Recreating a Power Point Led to Expletives, But Started a Future Relationship
Morris once sat in a defensive room with veteran names like Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli, former Rams assistant and now Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry and Tomlin with the Bucs.
Morris recalled the first day he interviewed in 2002 for the open quality control coach spot. He shared how Kiffin would get interviewees to “recycle the information” back to him when breaking down the Bucs’ defense. Morris felt he crushed his interview.
But then along came Barry with a power point presentation that he wanted Morris to redo.
“I went to a room with Joe Barry, he handed me a power point document and said ‘Go recreate this document.’ So I had a couple of minutes to recreate the document, he said it was great,” Morris explained.
Then along came a heated Tomlin, who claimed it was his own defensive ideas that Morris redid.
“But, I walked into Mike Tomlin’s office, at the time it was a closet. The only thing missing was a couple of brooms and some cleaning materials. He looked at me and said ‘Hey man, you’re not tricking me man. You’re full of s***. Who taught you the goddamn defense? I’m going to bypass the fact that I already knew you knew this, f*** that and I’m going to say that I like you anyway,’” Morris said laughing along with Tomlin. “And there it was. The relationship started. At the end of the day, I realized he stole it, but it was his.”
From there, both developed a closely-knitted bond. Tomlin, who is five years older than Morris, said his experiences in Tampa alongside Morris helped shape his own coaching career.
Said Tomlin: “It speaks to the environment we were in. We were young coaches, we had the young coach arrogance, we thought we were good and don’t give me wrong, we worked hard. But just to be in that environment with guys like Monte and Marinelli and others, we were fortunate to be there. We knew that we were in defensive mecca.”