The NY Jets' coaching staff has come under fire in recent months, and given the team's disappointing performance in 2023, it's hard to fault a lot of that criticism. But for as bad as the team's offensive staff might be, the Jets' defensive staff is still held in high regard around the NFL.
Robert Saleh remains one of the best defensive talent evaluators and developers in football. Jeff Ulbrich's stock has been on the rise alongside Saleh because of the Jets' defensive dominance. There are others on the staff who deserve recognition as well.
One such individual is safeties coach Marquand Manuel, who the Jets are hoping to keep around this offseason. Manuel is reportedly set to interview with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their vacant defensive coordinator position, per Bleacher Report's Jordan Schultz.
Manuel has been with the Jets since Saleh's first year in New York in 2021, reuniting with Ulbrich, whom he spent time working alongside in Atlanta. Now, Manuel is looking for his second opportunity as an NFL defensive coordinator.
The NY Jets could lose Marquand Manuel to the Jaguars
A former NFL safety, Manuel got his start in the coaching world as the assistant special teams of the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. He spent the next two years working alongside Saleh in Seattle as a defensive assistant and later the assistant secondary coach.
Manuel joined the Falcons' staff under Dan Quinn in 2015 as the team's secondary coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2017. After a brief stint in Philadelphia in 2021, Manuel joined Saleh's staff in 2021.
During his time with the Jets, Manuel has overseen the development of players like Tony Adams and Ashtyn Davis, who have become valuable pieces for the Jets on defense.
Manuel helped develop Adams from an undrafted rookie to a full-time starting safety in just two years. As for Davis, he earned a role on defense in 2023 and played some of the best football of his career.
This isn't the first time Manuel has been connected to a defensive coordinator opening during his Jets tenure, as he was a candidate for the Carolina Panthers' job this time last year.
While cornerbacks coach Tony Oden rightfully receives much of the attention, Manuel has experience as a coordinator and has found success working alongside Saleh and Ulbrich. He's far from an unknown in the coaching world.
The Jets hope to keep together as much of their defensive staff — and, unfortunately, their offensive staff — as possible this offseason, but there's a chance they lose a key defensive assistant to another AFC team.