Five potential candidates to replace Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as Ravens defensive coordinator – The Mercury News

With a surprise announcement on Friday that he parted ways with defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, Ravens coach John Harbaugh made a huge hole in his staff. Harbaugh always hires from within when choosing his next coordinator, but he can also look to familiar faces outside the organization.

Here’s an early look at potential applicants:

Mike Macdonald

Harbaugh talks about Macdonald, 34, as a future defensive coordinator when he worked as an assistant to the Ravens from 2014 to 2020. Macdonald later proved he could excel in the role. at the college level, working for Jim, Harbaugh’s brother, in Michigan. With Macdonald at the helm, the Wolverines have held their opponents to 17.4 points per game, ranked 8th in the country, and have potential first-round picks in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Michigan allowed 34.5 points per game the year before Macdonald arrived from Baltimore. He served as defender coach for the Ravens, earning praise for his work with individual players and building communications across the defence. Macdonald’s future may partly depend on Jim Harbaugh’s plans, with rumors swirling that the younger Harbaugh may be aiming for a return to the NFL.

Anthony Weaver

If Harbaugh wants a promotion from within, Weaver, 41, will have recent experience as an NFL coordinator. He led the Houston Texans’ defense in 2020 before joining the Ravens as game executive coordinator and defense coach for last season. The Ravens lead the alliance in defense with Weaver overseeing them in that area. The Texan struggled in his only season as a coordinator, placing 30th in total defense and 27th in scoring. But Weaver has built an stellar reputation coaching Houston’s defense from 2016 to 2020. Defensive superstar JJ Watt has described him as an “incredible coach” and “man.” he’s great.” Weaver played seven years in the NFL as a defensive quarterback, the first four of which for Raven, who landed him in the second round of the 2002 draft in Notre Dame.

Chris Hewitt

Although Hewitt, 47, has no experience as a defensive coordinator, he has coached Raven’s sideline since 2015 and has coordinated the team’s passes for the past two seasons. Raven ranks last in pass defense in 2021, able to counter Hewitt despite his unit’s stellar record in previous seasons. The second team was ravaged by injury starting cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters and safe starting DeShon Elliott but struggled to stop explosive games throughout the season. Hewitt had a long relationship with Harbaugh, who coached him at the University of Cincinnati. He played three seasons as a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints and coached at Notre Dame and Rutgers before joining the Ravens team in 2012. Harbaugh praised Hewitt’s “nonsense” style, carried over from his playing days.

Joe Cullen

Cullen, 54, served as defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 after spending the previous five seasons as a defensive line coach for the Ravens. His status in Jacksonville is growing after the Jaguars fired coach Urban Meyer in December of his first season. The Jaguars ranked 20th overall defensively and 28th defensively under Cullen’s guidance, but they put on a couple of stellar performances, holding the Buffalo Bills to six points in a nasty 9-week and Indianapolis Colts to 11 points in the season-ending victory. Despite a difficult season in Jacksonville, top defensive players said they hope their simple-talking coordinator will stay. “I support him 100%,” said lineman Myles Jack “Our defense has made strides.” Cullen also earned the respect of his players in Baltimore. He served as a defensive line coach for four other NFL teams before joining the Ravens in 2016, and his experience in nurturing internal affairs officers could be appealing for a team that needs to build rebuild his front.

Jim Leonhard

The former Ravens safe may be a wild card contender compared to some of the others, but he’s built a stellar record over five seasons as defensive coordinator for his alma mater. him, Wisconsin. The Badgers hold the opponent to 16.2 points per game, ranked fourth in the country in 2021 and ranked in the top 10 two seasons earlier. Leonhard started 13 games for the Ravens in Harbaugh’s first season as a coach and became known as an intelligent, versatile player for more than 10 NFL seasons. He has no professional coaching experience but was a defensive coordinator candidate for the Green Bay Packers last winter. Five potential candidates to replace Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as Ravens defensive coordinator – The Mercury News

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