A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed ESPN’s report that former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel has signed on as the Eagles’ new defensive backs coach. Manuel replaces Cory Undlin, who coached the DBs for five seasons, then left to become defensive coordinator in Detroit.
In addition, league sources believe former Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke, who served as a defensive assistant with the Eagles this past season, will become the team’s third defensive line coach in as many seasons. If this is the case, Burke will replace Phillip Daniels, who was dismissed.
Manuel, who will turn 41 in July, was a lower-level defensive assistant on Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defenses, which went to back-to-back Super Bowls, winning SB XLVIII. He was the Falcons’ DBs coach for Super Bowl LI, in which they famously blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead and lost to the Patriots. Head coach Dan Quinn then fired defensive coordinator Richard Smith and promoted Manuel, whom he had brought with him from Seattle.
Atlanta’s defense improved dramatically in 2017, Manuel’s first year in charge, and Manuel got a lot of credit for the development of safety Keanu Neal, but in a narrative that might sound familiar to Eagles fans, key injuries proved disastrous in 2018, leading to regression and Manuel’s firing. He was out of coaching in 2019.
In Philadelphia, he will inherit a DB room facing change — much-needed change, many fans and observers believe. Starting cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are pending free agents. Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas are the top recent draft picks at corner, arriving in 2017 as second- and third-rounders, respectively, but neither Jones nor Douglas saw a defensive snap in the playoff loss to Seattle. Safety Malcolm Jenkins, the leader of the unit, has said he will not play in 2020 without a revised contract. The other starting safety, Rodney McLeod, is a pending free agent.
Manuel was a sixth-round pick of the Bengals in 2002, a safety out of Florida, where he played in the same secondary with the Eagles’ first-round pick that year, Lito Sheppard. Manuel spent two years with Cincinnati, then played for the Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Broncos, and Lions in a career that ended in 2009.
Manuel is from Miami and was the ninth of 19 children.
If Burke turns out to be the defensive line coach, as expected, that would leave the Eagles with openings at offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. They seem to want to fill all the openings before making any announcements about the staff.