Atlanta Falcons’ Defensive Coordinator Marquand Manuel: Experience as a Player
Most NFL coaches played football in the past, but Manuel’s wide experience of playing the game sets him apart.
Long before Marquand Manuel was selected to be defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, he was playing safety at the University of Florida, and he wasn’t just a walk-on or rotation player either.
Manuel played for Steve Spurrier’s Gators from 1998 to 2001, where he eventually became a starter and a team captain. His stellar play helped the Gators win the SEC Championship in 2000, and he was also successful off the field, being an SEC Academic Honor Roll honoree in each of his four years at Florida.
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After his college career, Manuel was drafted in the sixth round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, Manuel never firmly settled with a team in his career and bounced around the league on several short contracts, often playing for a team for only one season.
He would only ever start all sixteen games of the NFL season once in his career (2006 for the Green Bay Packers) and would never make it to the Pro-Bowl, but there is value in the constantly changing coaches and playing atmosphere in his career. Manuel was exposed to various coaching styles, seeing the hallmarks of success in Dick LeBeau and the contrasting, “old school” style of Ray Rhodes, for example.
Simply put, he’s been exposed to almost every coaching style in the book, and he has several past experiences to draw from for his own coaching style. Further, Manuel’s youth will be valuable to the development of the Falcon’s young defense, as he understands and likely still closely remembers the difficulties of being a young NFL player and what must be done to succeed.
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