Dan Quinn and the front office decided to go their separate ways after the Super Bowl, firing defensive coordinator Richard Smith. Smith had ups and downs, and eventually Quinn took over calling the defensive playcalls when he felt Smith was not dialing up the right plays. There was a noticeable difference once Quinn took over, but instead of continuing this duty, he decided to hire another defensive coordinator within the organization. That coach he hired was Marquand Manuel, and he will have a lot to live up to.
Manuel was hired in 2015 by Quinn as he followed him from Seattle. He was hired to become the defensive backs coach, and he did in fact help develop players such as Jalen Collins and Brian Poole. He did his job, and he helped Robert Alford grow into an even better player. But now that Smith is canned, Manuel is now the new defensive coordinator. At 37 years of age, he is considered very young for this position.
— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) April 19, 2017
Manuel played on six different teams during his NFL tenure, and his most impactful year was in 2006 when he played for Green Bay. He retired as a player in 2009, but came back as a coach in 2012 for Seattle. Many Falcons fans are worried, and they have every right to be. He is going to have to take a defense that ranked in 27th in scoring defense and 25th in total defense to a whole new level. Many have high expectations for this Falcons young defense, and many expect the defense to play like they did in the postseason.
The Atlanta Falcons are one of few teams that are “Super Bowl or bust” when the 2017 season begins. This team is in a win now phase. Last year, the Falcons made the Super Bowl despite exceeding expectations. Many before the season, including myself, believed the team was a year away from being great. Manuel now experienced the highs and the lows last year, and now he has been put in the captain’s seat ready to lead a defense that has all the potential in the world. Vic Beasley, Dontari Poe, Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Keanu Neal are all big named players that are ready to lead this defense, but Manuel will be the man in charge. Will Marquand Manuel be ready?