OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens coach John Harbaugh made a surprising decision to part ways with defensive coordinator Don Martindale after a disappointing season.
Baltimore’s defense was among the best in the NFL under Martindale prior to this season, and ranked No. 1 in 2018, fourth in 2019 and seventh in 2020. This season, the Ravens were marred by injuries and fell to 25th overall and dead last against the pass.
Here are some potential candidates to replace Martindale:
- Ravens defensive line coach Anthony Weaver
Analysis: Weaver is a former Ravens player so he knows all about the pride and tradition. He just finished his 12th season of coaching, including his 10th in the NFL. Weaver joined the Houston Texans in 2016 as the defensive line coach and was later promoted to defensive coordinator/defensive line coach in 2020. During the 2018 campaign, Houston received another standout season from All-Pro and Pro Bowl DE J.J. Watt, who along with DE/NT D.J. Reader, contributed to a stout run defense that led the NFL in opponent yards per rush (3.44) and yielded a franchise-low 1,323 rushing yards.
Jaguars former defensive coordinator Joe Cullen
Analysis: Cullen has 32 years of coaching experience. He spent five seasons (2016-20) as the defensive line coach for the Baltimore Ravens. During that span, Baltimore allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game (97.1), recorded the second-lowest defensive third-down percentage (35.5) and created the third-most takeaways in the NFL (126). He took over as defensive coordinator for Jacksonville in February 2021. The Jaguars finished 20th for overall defense last season.
- Defensive pass-game coordinator Chris Hewitt
Analysis: Hewitt is a no-nonsense coach and has the personality to lead the Ravens defense. Baltimore’s secondary finished last in the NFL against the pass last season, but it was missing every starter except safety Chuck Clark. In 2020, Baltimore allowed the NFL’s second-fewest points (18.9) and seventh-fewest yards (329.8) per game. The Ravens also owned the second-ranked third-down defense (34.0%) and produced a league-high 25 forced fumbles.
- Michigan defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald
Analysis: Macdonald joined Michigan’s coaching staff after seven seasons with the Ravens, who won the AFC North twice during his tenure and finished second on three other occasions. Macdonald coached the linebackers in Baltimore for the past three seasons (2018-20) and mentored the defensive backs during the 2017 season. He spent two seasons as a defensive assistant (2015-16) after beginning his tenure with the team as a coaching intern on defense (2014). The Ravens defense allowed the fewest yards in the NFL during the 2018 season finished in the top 8 in six of his seven seasons. In 2017, he helped coach a secondary that led the NFL in turnovers (34). His unit also led the league in interceptions (22) for the second year in a row (18 in 2016).