Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel paused and reflected on the milestone.
He’s getting ready to call his first NFL game in his hometown of Miami when the Falcons face the Dolphins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Hard Rock Stadium.
“Blessed,” Manuel said. “Truly blessed. I’ve been blessed to be around this game almost 15 years professionally.”
Manuel, 38, played at Miami Senior High before going on to star at Florida. He played in the NFL for nine seasons before joining the coaching ranks.
He was the Falcons’ defensive backs coach the past two seasons before he was promoted to defensive coordinator in March.
He’s set to call the game from the sidelines, while defensive passing-game coordinator Jerome Henderson will work out of the press box.
“I know it’s never about me,” Manuel said. “I do what I do to give back to the players. So, it’s always going to be about them. That’s the truth of the matter.”
“When you see the energy and the spirit that I bring every day, it’s about taking them farther than I ever could have went in this game.”
Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will call his game from the press box. He will relay plays through quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan.
“We’ll probably flip, maybe even in the next game,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “It’s a good opportunity. We’ve got some new guys and a new staff and (we need to see) how that fits into their roles on game day.
“Not just the players are excited. Us as coaches are, too.”
Manuel looks forward to the challenge.
“(Quinn) wants to make sure that he gives all of the coaches the tools they need to be successful,” Manuel said. “He wants me to go up and down to make sure I get the full parameter of calling. Is it better for us upstairs? Is it better for us downstairs? How does it work with the dynamics of us far as adjustments and things of that nature.”
Manuel knows that he’ll lean on Quinn, a former defensive coordinator, linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich and defensive backs coach Doug Mallory.
“It’s awesome as a true leader and spitting back all of his experience and helping me with the whole thing,” Manuel said.
Maneul doesn’t have a preference as to where he stations himself during a game.
“I’m going to start down (on the field),” Manuel said. “We are going to go from there. We are going to play with it in the (exhibition) season and see where we go from there. We are going to take cliff notes and make sure we do what’s best for the team.”
Manuel hopes to put his imprint on the unit.
“I kind of drift to everybody,” Manuel said. “I think things that come up and that need attention at times. It’s going to be with any group that needs that attention and information. It’s more about talking with the coach and relying the information to make sure that player gets the right information. I think that’s pretty much what it is.
“As far as energy, that’s going to happen regardless.”