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Report: Marquand Manuel will assume playcalling duties in 2017

The Falcons are putting a lot of trust in their first year defensive coordinator.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Quinn took over playcalling in the back half of the 2016 season, and the Atlanta Falcons’ defense appeared to make some strides. That led directly to Richard Smith’s departure, which came as a surprise to most of us outside the building.

Here’s another surprise.

I had figured Quinn would retain playcalling work this season, given that the team did so well with him at the helm, but I once again underestimated Quinn’s faith in his people. Manuel is a rising star in the coaching profession, a talented defensive mind and a motivator, and Quinn’s going to put the defense very much in his hands. Manuel has never been a coordinator before, but he’ll have a strong support system and will be taking the reins of a young, rising defense. I have little doubt about his capabilities, and so we’ll hope he’ll have great success doing so.

Quinn, meanwhile, will return to the work of firing up his team, overseeing his staff, and proving that his team isn’t a one-and-done Super Bowl attendee.