We heard from Eagles’ defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel for the first time since he was hired on Wednesday. The coach talked about the three things he asked from Sidney Jones, Darius Slay’s desire to improve, and his experience with Jim Schwartz’s defense.
He also talked a bit about his decision to join the Eagles’ coaching staff. Manuel had several interviews, but explained that he wanted to be in a place with the same mindset and somewhere that loved football, and also wanted to be able to grow in a great environment.
Here’s what else Manuel had to say:
On Sidney Jones
“I told him the three things I really needed him to do when we had that dialogue, on how he needed to do it, when he needed to do it, and how consistent he needs to be at it.”
Manuel was later asked what those three things were that he discussed with Jones.
- Be accountable
- Compete daily
- Be willing to learn
The coach said that if anyone does those three things consistently in the league, they can be successful. Manuel went on to say that everyone has a different skill set, but it’s how to implement what you do great — and, also, you can’t be great at everything, but you can practice something enough times that you can’t get it wrong.
On the Eagles’ DBs
He’s excited about the competitive edge that the whole group brings. Manuel said that the leadership and competitive edge stood out right away, and it wasn’t something he had to wait to see develop — which is sometimes the case with a new team.
Manuel said Maddox is the “ultimate competitor” which the big part, and then his experience playing inside helps him on the outside. The coach explained that he always looks at the cornerback position as a whole, and looks for guys that can play in the slot and possibly move outside — because they’re technically one motion away from being an in or out player — rather than just focus on the size of the player.
“Not only has he played a lot of football, but he’s gravitated towards that challenge as well.”
Manuel noted that Rodney McLeod embraces the leadership role on the field, and didn’t play little brother to Malcolm Jenkins when he was here, he just wasn’t as vocal. The two go all the way back to McLeod playing in the East-West Shrine Game, and he’s been a big help in having dialogue with the young guys and having back-and-forths. He understands and shares the little nuances of what they do on a daily basis.
The DB coach talked a bit about Darius Slay and said that the cornerback is super eager to get out on the field and improve. He doesn’t think that he’s learned it all, which is encouraging for Manuel as a coach.
Slay not only competes when he’s on the field, but the coach has been able to see his effort in the meeting rooms and even when they were meeting virtually earlier in the offseason. Manuel pointed out that the CB even takes his nutrition seriously, and his role as a leader — working with the young guys and the wide receivers after practice.
The coach has some experience transitioning corners to safety, and did that in Atlanta. Manuel explained that the good part about Jalen Mills is that he doesn’t have to learn a new defense — he sat in the same meeting room for his whole career, it’s now just adjusting his eyes. Manuel also pointed out that Mills has had to do that before in Schwartz’s defense, and he played the safety position in college. He noted that it’s “been a pleasure” to watch Mills take hold of his new position.
On his experience
Manuel’s last year in the league as a player was Jim Schwartz’s first year in Detroit, and the DB coach confirmed that the defense has evolved over the years, but there is some carryover from a schematic standpoint. For the most part it’s still aggressive, still starts up front and they handle everything on the backend.