Every coach in the NFL has favorite players, whether they’d admit it to you out loud or not. It appears that one of Marquand Manuel’s favorites is Ricardo Allen, which in my honest opinion heightens the chances of Allen staying here for a long time.
In this MMQB profile of Manuel, someone we absolutely believe will be an NFL head coach someday, we get a lot of interesting tidbits on his approach and style. It’s enough to understand, at least at a glance, why his players might like him so much.
It has another effect, too: You begin to understand how much Manuel loves Ricardo Allen, a player who was drafted by the previous regime to play cornerback, but has emerged as a durable, remarkably solid starting free safety under Dan Quinn and company.
He’s one of the best in the league outside of Earl [Thomas] that I’ve seen tackle in open field. It’s the thankless stat, how many touchdowns he saved. I had him teach, what is being a great middle field eraser to the entire room in the spring.
Recognize how important open field tackling is to Quinn, Manuel and this defense, and you begin to understand why Allen has had this job for three years running and didn’t even break a sweat defending it from rookie Damontae Kazee. You don’t just make idle comparisons to Earl Thomas unless you really like a guy, and given that Allen is still just 25 years old, it’s conceivable he has this job for a half-decade or more. Kazee will be a threat, of course, but it’s also possible he’ll settle in as a gifted third safety, giving the team a wealth of quality young defensive backs. Either way, the Falcons should be fine at safety.
There are no guarantees in life, but Allen seems likely to hang on in Atlanta for as long as Manuel is here and another team doesn’t knock him off his feet with a huge contract offer. Let’s hope he keeps saving the Falcons from allowing long touchdowns for that entire time.