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Marquand Manuel reflects on the state of the defense as the Falcons prepare for the Packers

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Fact: Marquand Manuel hasn’t eaten cheese since 1996

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel knows the pressure is on. Head coach Dan Quinn has likely done enough over the past 3+ years to keep his seat comfortably cool. Manuel, however, is staring down the distinct possibility he will be replaced or demoted in the offseason. But to Manuel’s credit, he’s not wavering. Manuel is the exact same coach he was when the season began: same swagger, same confidence in the product they’re putting on the field.

The Falcoholic’s Jeanna Thomas was again on hand for Wednesday’s media availability. Manuel didn’t shy away from discussing last week’s abysmal performance against the run. “Interiorwise, we got to have the ability to sustain ... we gotta get better from that standpoint,” he said.

The elephant in the room is a question that’s begging to be asked: how can the Falcons defense use these last four games productively? If momentum means anything in the NFL, they’ve got to finish strong. From Manuel’s standpoint, it’s a matter of trying to build on the successes the team has already had this year. “We at times found ways to win games, and that’s how we’re going to do it down the stretch ... guys that wasn’t even in training camp.” In other words, they were dealt a bad hand in 2018, and they’ve tried to make the best of it.

Pride is a concept that comes up frequently when we talk about good football. Pride in doing your job and in turn, pride in lifting up the guy that lines up next to you. That’s where Manuel thinks the defense is mentally right now, and that’s where he intends to keep them: “[T]hat’s the bottom line ... we come in every Monday, win, lose, or draw, our standard is excellence. If we play and coach to that level, we will always win.”