Marquand Manuel took over as position coach of an Eagles secondary undergoing major changes this summer.
In a truncated offseason, he’s been asked to oversee Jalen Mills’ position change from corner to safety, the acclimation of several new players, and the challenge of turning around Sidney Jones’ career.
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If Manuel can help the former second-round pick overcome the weight of the last three seasons, each marred by injuries and demotions, Jones’ career trajectory could change significantly.
Jones was projected to be an early first-round pick out of Washington in the 2017 NFL draft before tearing his Achilles in a predraft workout. The injury caused him to fall into the second round, where the Eagles took him with the No. 43 pick.
Manuel spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons as the Atlanta Falcons’ defensive coordinator before taking a year away from coaching in 2019. After eight years as an NFL defensive back, he was a low-level assistant for the Seahawks when Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary led the team to back-to-back Super Bowl berths in the 2013 and ‘14 seasons.
Manuel said his proximity to Jones during his stint with the Seahawks made him familiar with the 24-year-old even before the two started sharing a position meeting room.
“When I first took the job, we had a good conversation,” Manuel said Wednesday. “Me being in Seattle when he was in college, I’ve seen a lot of things that he was capable of doing. In this league, as you guys already know, there’s a lot of scouting. I told him the three things that I really need him to do and 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.
“So I just think from that standpoint that the competitive edge and understanding how to play in this league, what you do in this league to be successful, and how confidence plays into everything else.”
When asked about the three things he needed Jones to do, Manuel explained the standards to which he holds each of his charges.
“Be accountable, compete daily, be willing to learn,” he said. “If you consistently do those three things in this league, you can have success. ... So his accountability and commitment and hard work are really what I asked from him, and that was the challenge, and that’s going to continue to be the challenge. I wanted him to understand that confidence goes a long way in this league, man, on whatever you do.”