Best known for asking Eli Apple some regrettable questions during the combine, some may have overlooked Marquand Manuel’s success on the field. The former pro player and Seattle coaching assistant was a hot name for defensive coordinator positions around the league last season. He ended up as Atlanta’s secondary coach/senior defensive assistant, and produced an impressive unit down the stretch, especially with top player Desmond Trufant moving to injured reserve.
We covered the news that Dan Quinn took over defensive play calling later in the season, which makes Richard Smith’s pseudo dismissal not surprising. Early rumors suggested the Falcons were promoting someone from in-house, and Manuel was always the favorite for the spot. ESPN’s Vaughn McClure confirmed confirmed the news Friday morning.
Considering Smith’s defensive rankings throughout his career, I expect the exploration for other options to be short and disappointing.
As noted by Vaughn, Manuel has a hands-on approach with players that has helped young players like Jalen Collins and Brian Poole improve. That mindset, along with his history in Seattle, makes me think he’s a much better fit with Dan Quinn’s coaching style and the brotherhood mantra than old school Smith.
Quinn may have a collaborative play calling relationship with Manuel, similar to Raheem Morris and Smith were briefly called the passing defense coordinator and run defense coordinator. This feels like an easy improvement for the defense, and hopefully provides Atlanta a boost in effectiveness.