The Falcons had to know that if they didn’t at least get Marquand Manuel fast-tracked for a promotion, they might lose him to another team. Manuel got himself in hot water with a wildly inappropriate question for cornerback Eli Apple before the 2016 draft, but talent is what wins out in the NFL, and Manuel is widely regarded as a rising star in the profession.
So the Falcons did a pretty logical thing and hired Manuel as their defensive coordinator. He’s tight with Dan Quinn and obviously someone Quinn is comfortable with—which is important after the team parted ways with Richard Smith and DQ assumed play calling duties later on in the year in 2016—and you can get a glimpse of why players like Manuel in the video below.
"It's my job to make sure you have a job!"— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 16, 2017
DC Marquand Manuel is definitely a player's coach. pic.twitter.com/40LVeUmSqC
Manuel’s job this year boils down to coaxing more out of a defense that would probably be better with you or I at the helm, so at first glance he’s not walking into a tough job. But the reality is that you can’t take improvement for granted, you have to keep a young defense focused, and you’ve got to scheme effectively for some very tough offenses, including three in the NFC South. If he can be effective in this role and help this defense truly blossom—and I believe he can—we unfortunately may be hearing his name come up in head coaching searches before long.
For now, though, it’s all about whether Manuel and company can get this defense to improve enough to offset any pullback from the offense. It looks like we’re off to a good start.