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Report: Eagles hire Marquand Manuel as defensive backs coach

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One fewer vacant position on Philadelphia’s coaching staff.

Minnesota Vikings v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles are hiring former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel as their new defensive backs coach, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Manuel replaces former Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin, who was hired away by the Detroit Lions. Undlin had held his previous role since 2015.

ESPN previously reported Manuel was interviewing with the Eagles. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

Manuel, a sixth-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals, played safety in the NFL from 2002 through 2009. He played his last season for Jim Schwartz’s Detroit Lions (there’s your Eagles connection) before joining the Seattle Seahawks’ coaching staff in 2012.

Manuel followed Dan Quinn to Atlanta when the latter was hired as the Falcons’ head coach. Manuel served as a secondary coach on Quinn’s staff for two seasons before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017. Manuel was then fired after the 2018 season and has been out of work since.

Manuel has worked with a number of notable defensive backs throughout his coaching career. He was an assistant secondary coach for Seattle when Byron Maxwell emerged as a full-time starter in 2014. (Some team went on to pay that Maxwell guy a lot of money in free agency but I can’t remember which.) Manuel oversaw Desmond Trufant’s sole Pro Bowl season in 2015. Keanu Neal also developed into a Pro Bowl player in Atlanta.

The 40-year-old Manuel seems like a worthwhile replacement for [Undlin].

And here’s how Eagles fans felt about the prospects of this hire:

Meanwhile, this is how our associates over at The Falcoholic reacted to the Manuel news:

Manuel, similar to [Steve] Sarkisian, showed some flashes while in Atlanta. The young defense looked great in 2017, with many expecting a big jump in 2018. That jump never happened after injuries took out many top defenders. Manuel had no answers as the defense fell to the bottom of the league.

He probably needs a few more years before he gets another shot at defensive coordinator, but Manuel is widely considered as a great secondary coach. That work is sometimes overshadowed by some inappropriate questions he asked during the NFL combine. While Manuel has received the least interest of any of the former Falcons coordinators, he is clearly still respected around the league for his positional coaching.

Manuel seems appropriately qualified for his new job.

Now Manuel has his work cut out for him as he takes over a secondary that’s seen a lot of struggles in recent seasons. There could be a lot of personnel turnover considering three out of the Eagles’ four starting defensive backs from 2019 are free agents (Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod) ... and another has declared he won’t return to the team on his current contract (Malcolm Jenkins).

The Eagles will likely add new defensive backs through both free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s up to Manuel to help get the best out of them. Maybe he can even help out some of the in-house players like Sidney Jones and/or Rasul Douglas.

Manuel’s addition gives the Eagles another former NFL defensive coordinator on their staff. Eagles defensive special assistant Matt Burke — who is rumored to be Phillip Daniels’ replacement at defensive line coach — and linebackers coach Ken Flajole also previously held DC jobs.

With the Eagles’ defensive backs coach opening (and defensive line coach opening?) filled, the attention turns back to what’s going on at offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. My guess is that we’ll finally get some news on that front this week ... but we’ll see.