On Tuesday evening, we learned that the Falcons were moving on from defensive coordinator Richard Smith and defensive line coach Bryan Cox. Friday afternoon, the team named Marquand Manuel their new defensive coordinator.
Along with Manuel, Raheem Morris was named the wide receivers/passing game coordinator/assistant head coach. Doug Mallory was promoted to defensive backs coach, and Bryant Young was hired to replace Cox as the defensive line coach.
Manuel has spent the past two season as the Falcons secondary coach/senior defensive assistant. Under Manuel, the defensive backs only allowed 19 touchdowns through the air, which was third lowest in the NFL.
He was also the assistant secondary coach for the Seattle Seahawks when Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator there. He’s got the most familiarity with Quinn’s scheme, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise he’s received the promotion.
Manuel was key in developing the Falcons young defense. Guys like Jalen Collins, Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, Brian Poole, and Robert Alford all progressively got better as the season went along. Alford had an 82-yard interception return for touchdown in Super Bowl LI against the Patriots.
As far as Morris, he’s in his 15th year in the NFL coaching ranks. It’s going to be his third year with the Falcons. He was responsible for coaching up one of the best receiving groups in the NFL composed of Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Taylor Gabriel. Jones was second in the NFL in receiving yards, while Gabriel and Sanu had career-highs in receiving touchdowns and receptions respectively.
The Falcons now have new offensive and defensive coordinators, but there’s plenty of talent to work with.