Momentum builds for Marquand Manuel to become Panthers DC

(Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) Marquand Manuel
(Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) Marquand Manuel /

Could momentum be building for Marquand Manuel to become Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator under Frank Reich in 2023?

Frank Reich‘s first task as Carolina Panthers head coach will be to mold a staff capable of taking this franchise to new heights moving forward. This is something the head coach spoke about during his first interview, with team owner David Tepper also looking to get the very best in the business on board to assist next season.

Reich has powerful connections around the league, so these objectives could be met in the not-too-distant future. Tepper’s deep pockets also indicate money won’t be a complication when push comes to shove.

All this wasn’t enough to convince Vic Fangio, who spurned a return to Carolina in favor of becoming Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator. Not entirely unsurprising when one considers where the AFC East team is right now compared to the Panthers.

The experienced play-caller’s decision to pursue other alternatives was a blow. But the Panthers interviewed multiple candidates even before their new head coach was officially confirmed, which gives them a good indicator of who might be a decent fit.

Marquand Manuel interviewed well with the Carolina Panthers

Much will depend on who Reich wants, too. And going against the coach’s wishes is not the best way for Tepper to begin this working relationship all things considered.

One man that seems to be gaining momentum is Marquand Manuel. According to both Jeremy Fowler of ESPN and Joe Person of The Athletic, the current New York Jets safeties coach interviewed extremely well and could get the coordinator job when it’s all said and done.

Manuel has previous experience as a defensive coordinator from his time with the Atlanta Falcons. He is also a former player and Super Bowl winner, which is sure to command instant respect within Carolina’s locker room if he was appointed.

While other options such as Gus Bradley remain in play, Manuel is a name to watch given recent reports. And considering the need for Reich to finalize his staff before important draft assessment events, it would be a surprise if a formal announcement didn’t arrive in the coming days.

Regardless of whether it’s Manuel or someone else, this has to be something everyone is on board with. The last thing Carolina needs is a difference of opinions between Reich and others right out of the gate, which could cause unnecessary friction at a crucial stage of the 2023 planning process.

Manuel has the credentials and experience to make a difference. This is also a good spot for the coach considering the number of talented defensive players Carolina currently has at its disposal.

The time for speculation is almost at an end. Reich and others need to focus their attention on the 2023 Senior Bowl later this week, so wrapping key coaching positions quickly and striking with conviction would be Carolina’s best possible outcome.

Whether Manuel becomes their defensive coordinator remains to be seen. His credentials certainly indicate it’s a possibility, but this needs to be rubber-stamped by every key member of the franchise before anything comes to light.

Fans won’t have to wait much longer to find out one way or another. Manuel ticks all the boxes, but only time will tell as to whether that’s enough.

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