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

With the shocking announcement on Friday that he parted with defensive coordinator Don “Wink” MartindaleRavens coach John Harbaugh drilled a huge hole in his staff. Harbaugh has always hired from within when choosing his next coordinator, but he can also look to familiar faces from outside the organization.

Here’s an early look at potential candidates:

mike macdonald

Harbaugh spoke of Macdonald, 34, as a future defensive coordinator when he served as a Ravens assistant from 2014 to 2020. Macdonald then proved he could excel in the role at the college level, working for Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, in Michigan. With McDonald at the helm, the Wolverines put opponents at 17.4 points per game, the eighth best in the nation, and Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo were selected in a possible first-round draft. Michigan allowed 34.5 points per game the year before McDonald’s came from Baltimore. He served as a linebackers coach for the Ravens, earning praise for his work with individual players and for building communication in defense. McDonald’s future may depend on Jim Harbaugh’s plans, with rumors that young Harbaugh may be eyeing a return to the NFL.

Anthony Weaver

If Harbaugh wants to campaign from within, Weaver, 41, will come with more recent experience as an NFL coordinator. He led the Houston Texans’ defense in 2020 before joining the Ravens as run game coordinator and defensive line coach for the previous season. The Ravens led the league in run defense and Weaver oversaw them in that area. The Texans struggled in their lone season as coordinator, placing 30th in overall defense and 27th in defense scoring. But Weaver built an excellent reputation coaching Houston’s defensive line from 2016 to 2020. Superstar defensive end JJ Watt described him as an “incredible coach” and a “great person”. Weaver played seven years in the NFL as a defensive lineman, the first four of them for the Ravens, who drafted him from Notre Dame in the second round of the 2002 draft.

Chris Hewitt

Although Hewitt, 47, does not have experience as a defensive coordinator, he has coached the Ravens’ secondary since 2015 and coordinated the team’s pass defense over the past two seasons. The Ravens finished last in the pass defense in 2021, which could have worked against Hewitt despite his unit’s excellent track record last season. The secondary was decimated by injuries to Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters starting and starting safety Dashon Elliott, but struggled to prevent explosive plays throughout the season. Hewitt has a long-standing 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 staff in 2012. Harbaugh praised Hewitt’s “no-nonsense” style, which was transferred from his playing days.

Joe Cullen

Cullen, 54, served as defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 after spending the past five seasons as a defensive line coach for the Ravens. His position at Jacksonville is up in the air after the Jaguars fired coach Urban Meyer in December of his first season. The Jaguars were ranked 20th in total defense and 28th in defense scoring under Cullen’s guidance, but they sprinkled in some excellent performances, edging the Buffalo Bills to six points in a Week 9 and the Indianapolis Colts in a season-ending victory. Stopped at 11 points. , Despite a rough season at Jacksonville, key defensive players said they expected their plain-spoken coordinators to keep up. Linebacker Miles Jack said, “I support him 100%.” jacksonville.com, “Our defense has made progress.” 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 nurturing an interior lineman could be lucrative for a team that needs to rebuild its front. Is.

Jim Leonhard

The former Ravens security may be a wild-card candidate more than some others, but he has built up an excellent track record over five seasons as the defensive coordinator for his alma mater, Wisconsin. The Badgers put opponents at 16.2 points per game, the fourth best in the country, in 2021 and have ranked in the top 10 over the past two seasons. Leonhard started 13 games for the Ravens in Harbaugh’s first season as coach and was known as a smart, versatile player in 10 NFL seasons. He has no pro coaching experience, but was a defensive coordinating candidate for the Green Bay Packers last winter.

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