Surprise, Ravens defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale after disappointing season – The Mercury News

Raven has fired defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, a surprising change that comes less than two weeks after the end of a disappointing season.

In a statement the Ravens released Friday, coach John Harbaugh said that he and Martindale, who has one year left on his Baltimore contract, “agreed to move forward in separate directions.”

“We had a great defensive run, and I’m very proud of what he achieved and the work he’s done,” Harbaugh added in the statement. “Don has been a major contributor to the success of our defense since 2012, and especially since he became defensive coordinator four years ago. He did a wonderful job. Now is the time to pursue other opportunities. Sometimes the moment comes, and it’s the right time. ”

Martindale’s sacking is the first domino to fall for a reason that could reshape Raven’s defence, which has struggled through a disappointing 8-9 season. The team allowed 369.8 yards per game in a six-game losing streak at the end of the season, which sank the Ravens’ playoff hopes after an 8-3 start.

Martindale, a player-favorite coach and one of the NFL’s most active players, has served under Harbaugh since 2012. After coaching the team’s defenders for six years, he took over as defensive coordinator for Dean Pees in January 2018.

From 2018 to 2020, Raven was one of the NFL’s highest-paid and highest-performing defenses, ranking in the top 10 for overall performance each year, according to Football Outsiders. During Martindale’s first three years as coordinator, Raven led the league in average scoring (18.2 points per game allowed) and total defense (307.8 yards per game). ) and ranked first in defensive touches (12).

“In [defensive] room, the way he talks to us, talks to us and just contacts us, it translates into the way we play for him,” full-back Jimmy Smith said last January. “We have a lot of different packages, different things that people can do, all sorts of things and he makes sure everyone knows that. He puts everyone in a position to play to their strengths.”

This year, however, injuries and inconsistencies, especially in their supposedly good high school, have led to a dramatic drop. The Ravens ranked 28th overall in DVOA, their lowest ranking since the series’ first year in Baltimore. They also have the NFL’s worst defensive pass; 278.9 yards allows each of their games to be an NFL high and franchise record.

Martindale, who has always cherished the people around the team’s base with his swagger, fun and single-minded approach, increasingly finds himself under the microscope as Crow’s season spirals. After the 20-19 loss in Week 13 to the Steelers, Harbaugh was asked what changed defensively in the fourth quarter. After being held 3 points in the first three quarters, Pittsburgh and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scored 17 points in the quarter.

“They hit [Cover 0] covered a few times,” said Harbaugh, referring to an all-out attack that kept defenders within single defense. “You went down the well too many times, and they caught you. That’s what happened.”

Three weeks later, Martindale was asked how Raven planned to protect Cincinnati Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase, who in the team’s first game ended with 201 appearances and helped quarterback Joe Burrow over 416 yards overall in 41-17 wins in Baltimore. The Ravens suffered a tight Week 15 loss to Green Bay, in which they pledged to double the lead for Packers recipient Davante Adams, only to see quarterback Aaron Rodgers finish 268 yards and three ball touch.

“Davante Adams, he’s one of the two best players in the league, and he’s not No. 2, and Aaron Rodgers is a Hall of Fame full-back, and I don’t think we’re ready to buy yet, I don’t think we’re ready to buy yet. a yellow jacket for Joe. ,” Martindale said.

Reviews are taken to Cincinnati. Confront a Ravens defense that lacks starters at all levels – most notably at full-back, where Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey have been lost for the year and where Anthony Averett was soon injured. end of season – the Bengals have rolled. In a 41-21 win, Burrow won 37 for 46 for 525 yards and four touchdowns. Cincinnati finished with 575 yards of attack, the worst deal ever for Raven.

Two weeks later, Raven’s post-season hopes died with another loss for the Steelers. After struggling for three-quarters of the game with the Ravens’ depleted defense, Roethlisberger led a goal-scoring lead late in the fourth half, followed by a win in extra time.

The Ravens finished the season with just 15 tackles (9 interceptions and six tackles), the fewest since 2015 and 34 clearances, the fewest since 2016. The pass ranked 24th in terms of tackles. pressure ratio, according to Pro Football Reference. offseason investments in outside sponsors Tyus Bowser, Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh. Even the Ravens’ lightning rate isn’t special; At 31.1%, it ranks sixth in the league, the first time a defense under 39.6% in Martindale’s tenure.

“It’s not always easy,” Martindale said ahead of the Ravens’ season finale. “We changed different things that we hadn’t done in the past, because of the players that we had, and the resilience and fighting ability that every one of them had.”

“Given the injuries, I would say that was probably an important part that changed our mind about a lot of things,” full-back Patrick Queen said after the season. “But at the same time, you never know how the season will go, you never know what the coaches will call, what they prefer. … You never know what the season is like and all the teams we have to play against, and [if] we will have important matches; it’s hard to say. So we definitely have a plan next year with all the boys coming back. ”

However, that was not Martindale’s plan. Raven could be outsourced to replace him, but since Marvin Lewis was named the team’s first defensive coordinator before the 1996 season, every successor has been promoted in-house.

The Ravens’ 2022 defense will have some holes to fix. With substitutes Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams joining free agency, a solid defense may soon need an overhaul. Fullbacks Tavon Young, Averett and Smith are unlikely to return to Baltimore, and Marcus Peters is recovering from a torn ACL, undermining an already unstable secondary team. Talented young players such as Oweh, Queen, roader Justin Madubuike and safe Brandon Stephens have made promising but consistent starts to their careers.

Martindale, meanwhile, is predicted to be a much sought-after coordinator candidate. Two years after he’s linked with the New York Giants head coach job, he’ll start again somewhere outside of Baltimore.

“He can coach great players, average players, can coach them all; they’re going to feel like King Kong,” said former Ravens defensive coordinator and current ESPN analyst Rex Ryan, who coached with Martindale at the University of Cincinnati in the late 1990s. last. “That’s what great people do. The thing about ‘Wink’ is, he can be himself, authentically, that’s why players like him. They love that he is himself. ” Surprise, Ravens defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale after disappointing season – The Mercury News


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